Obtaining Initial Accreditation
Eligibility: An institution wishing to seek accreditation for the first time must undergo an eligibility review to establish compliance with the Commission’s Eligibility Requirements for Regional Accreditation, the ACCJC, and the Process of Accreditation 4 accreditation. If the institution has provided evidence that it complies with the Eligibility Requirements, it will be declared eligible to prepare an Institutional Self-Evaluation Report in application for Candidacy.
Candidacy: The institution conducts a comprehensive institutional self-evaluation in preparation for candidacy. It will prepare an Institutional Self-Evaluation Report (ISER) in which it provides evidence that its policies and practices align with all of the standards of accreditation, eligibility requirements, and Commission policies, henceforth all together the Standards. A peer review team will visit the college to verify that the institution meets the Standards. Upon review of the peer review team’s report, the Commission may grant candidacy status. While a candidate for accreditation, the institution will submit a Follow Up Report regarding its compliance with Standards, and the Commission may require a Follow Up Visit. Nevertheless, having achieved candidacy status, the institution is eligible to participate in federal financial aid programs.
Initial Accreditation: Based on assessment of the Follow Up, the Commission may grant Initial Accreditation. Once Initial Accreditation is granted, the institution will thereafter receive a reaffirmation visit by a peer review team following a seven-year cycle.
Ongoing Accreditation and Comprehensive Review
ACCJC member institutions agree to undergo a comprehensive review for reaffirmation of accreditation every seven years to determine whether they are continuing to meet the established Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards, including the federal requirements, and Commission policies. Member institutions are expected to engage in sustainable efforts to improve educational quality and institutional effectiveness. The review process includes four steps: internal self-evaluation, external evaluation by a team of peer reviewers, Commission review and accreditation action, and institutional response to recommendations for improvement.
Source: Guide to Institutional Self-Evaluation, Improvement, and Peer Review, 2020
The ACCJC focuses its energies on two goals: (1) ensuring that every member institution maintains compliance with accreditation standards of quality, with Commission policies, and with federal regulations as they relate to accreditation; and (2) encouraging institutions to strive for continuous improvement of student achievement and success. ACCJC processes are designed to support colleges in their efforts both to comply with Commission Standards and policies and to improve student outcomes and institutional effectiveness.
The importance of peer review as the preferred approach to institutional evaluation cannot be overstated. Drawing upon their experience and expertise as educators, faculty and administrative representatives on peer review teams have deep understanding of the meaning and significance of the Standards. Consequently, they discern the variety of ways that colleges can align their policies and practices with Standards according to their unique missions, and they also ably recognize compliance and non-compliance, and areas needing improvement.
Source: Guide to Institutional Self-Evaluation, Improvement, and Peer Review, 2020, page 3