THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS
The following steps are to be followed for seeking an initial grant of institutional or programmatic accreditation:
1. Retrieve Application Packet
Visit the ABHES Website at www.abhes.org and click the link, Apply for Institutional Accreditation, or Apply for Programmatic Accreditation. Both links can be found on the bottom left side of the homepage and contain instructions with hyper links to the required forms to be submitted with the application, including the eligibility criteria, ownership disclosure form, fees, etc. If unsure which application to complete, see Frequently Asked Questions link for the explanation of “What is the difference between institutional and programmatic accreditation?”
2. Application Submission
Once you confirm that your institution or program meets the Basic Eligibility criteria from Chapter II of the Accreditation Manual and your institution or program is ready to apply for accreditation, complete the Institutional or Programmatic Application for Accreditation and submit it along with the other required documents outlined in the instructions noted in Step 1 above.
3. Self-Evaluation Report (SER) Preparation
Upon receipt of the completed application packet, the institution will be provided the Self Evaluation Report (SER) for completion. There are two SER deadlines each year: May 1st and November 1st. The due dates assigned depend on the time the application is received and accepted. See the Accreditation Timeline link for details.
4. Accreditation Workshop Attendance
ABHES requires that initial and renewal applicants seeking a grant of accreditation must attend the applicable Institutional or Programmatic Accreditation Workshop prior to submission of the SER. The Accreditation Workshop is open to all who wish to attend; however, once an institution submits an application for accreditation, a representative from each campus and/or program (programmatic applicants) is required to attend the workshop prior to submission of the SER. The workshop attendance is valid for a one year period. In the event of a delay in the process a second attendance at the accreditation workshop may be required. There are approximately four accreditation workshops held each year. See the Listing of Workshops for details.
5. Preliminary Visit
Initial institutional applicants are required to undergo a preliminary visit following attendance at the Accreditation Workshop, where initial programmatic applicants have the option to undergo a preliminary visit. The preliminary visit is conducted following receipt of the DRAFT SER as a means of ensuring that the institution complies with all eligibility criteria and is in substantial compliance with ABHES standards. It is also a time for the institution to address any questions or concerns with staff in a consultative manner. Should it be determined on the preliminary visit that your institution is not in substantial compliance with the ABHES Standards, submission of the FINAL SER will be postponed and the institution may be required to undergo a second preliminary visit; thus, delaying the accreditation process. See the Accreditation Timeline for scheduled DRAFT SER due dates.
6. SER Submission
The SER is the most important step in the accreditation process. Care should be taken in completing this report as the visiting evaluation team and Commissioners will base their judgments, in part, on this document. The SER must be completed based on the institution’s compliance with the current ABHES Accreditation Manual (visit www.abhes.org and click the “publications tab” to view and download the most current Manual). Note that the accreditation standards are identified in bold print and the detailed explanations (i.e., guidelines) are found directly beneath each standard, which are essential to review.
The SER must be completed in a concise, yet detailed, manner providing specifics on how the institution meets each standard and a description of the evidence that exists to confirm compliance. Please be advised that simply restating the standard language or referring to external documents is NOT acceptable. Involvement of all constituencies including staff, faculty, students, graduates, employers, and advisory committee members is key to the successful completion of the SER.
7. On-Site Team Visit
Upon receipt of the SER, a staff member will contact the institution to schedule the on-site team visit. Visits are usually scheduled for two days and the number of evaluators is determined by the number of like programs offered by the institution. Each team consists of a team leader, program specialist(s), and an ABHES staff member. If any portion of any program/course is offered via distance education, a distance education specialist will also be a part of the evaluation team. The primary purpose of the on-site team visit is to confirm the information the institution provided in its SER and assess whether there is documentation in place to evidence compliance with the accreditation standards.
8. Institutional Response
Accrediting procedures provide an institution and/or program the opportunity to respond to the on-site visitation reports, concentrating specifically on areas of concern and violations, if any. The primary purpose of this step is to provide the institution and/or program an opportunity to document changes made by the institution and/or program to evidence compliance with a standard that was cited as a violation in the team’s visitation reports.
9. Commission Review
The Commission meets at least twice per year and the commissioners are provided with necessary information pertinent to the application, including the institution’s/program’s SER, team’s visitation reports, and its response to the team’s visitation reports for review and action. The Commission can opt to grant accreditation between 1 through 6 years, defer action and review at the next Commission meeting (held 6 months later), issue a show-cause directive (renewal applicants only), or deny an application. The Commission’s decision is then provided to the applicant in writing approximately 6 weeks following the Commission meeting.
10. Annual Report
Upon receipt of a grant of accreditation, schools are then required to complete an Annual Report for the most recent ABHES reporting period, July 1 to June 30. Schools are required to report its activities within the given timeframe and are required to pay an annual sustaining fee that is based upon gross annual tuition for institutional members or annual total program enrollment for programmatic members.
See Appendix G, Fees, of the Accreditation Manual at https://www.abhes.org/accreditationmanual for a complete listing of all User Fees.