The following steps are to be followed for seeking an initial grant of institutional or programmatic accreditation:

Step 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?”

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.  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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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 for a complete listing of all User Fees.

CHAPTER II – ELIGIBILITY AND CLASSIFICATIONS

SECTION A – Eligibility for Application

Prior to consideration for accreditation, the Commission will determine preliminarily whether an institution or program meets the requirements for accreditation.

Subsection 1 – Basic requirements

a) Institutional Eligibility

In order for a postsecondary institution to apply for accreditation by the Commission and to remain accredited, it must meet the following minimum criteria:

(1) It is (a) an institution in the private sector whose principal activity is education, (b) a hospital or laboratory-based training school, (c) a vocational training institution, or (d) a federally-sponsored training program.

(2) It is an educational institution that offers programs predominantly in the health education field. An institution meets this requirement if (a) 70 percent or greater of its students are enrolled in active health programs, or (b) 70 percent of its active programs are in the health education field, provided that a majority of an institution’s students are enrolled in those programs. A program is active if it has a current student enrollment and is seeking to enroll students.

(3) All of its programs are career focused and designed to lead to employment or advancement in career field.

(4) It is located in the United States or its territories.

(5) It is properly licensed, chartered or approved to provide education beyond the secondary level under the laws and regulations of the state(s) or territories or other regulatory agencies in which it operates.

(6) It must have been legally operating and continuously providing instruction as an institution for at least the prior two years.

(7) It has enrollment in the program(s) to be included in the grant of accreditation to allow evaluation of student outcomes. (Does not apply to current-institutionally-accredited members).

(8) It has at least one graduating class from at least one program(s) currently offered to determine the overall educational effectiveness of the program(s) of study offered.

b) Programmatic Eligibility

An organization offering a program in medical assisting, medical laboratory technology, or surgical technology education is eligible to apply for and be considered for programmatic accreditation if it meets the following criteria:

(1) At the time of application and visit, it has enrollment in the program to allow evaluation of student outcomes. (Does not apply to currently accredited programmatic schools or those institutionally-accredited members seeking initial programmatic accreditation).

(2) It is (a) a public or private institution at the postsecondary level institutionally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) whose principal activity is education, (b) a hospital or laboratory-based training school, or (c) a federally-sponsored training program.

(3) Its program is career focused and designed to lead to employment.

(4) It is located in the United States or its territories.

(5) At the time of the visit, the program will have (or have had within the past twelve months) student participation in clinical experience activities, as applicable, to permit evaluation of program operations and of student progress, satisfaction, and retention. In addition, the program will have enrolled students who have completed at least 50 percent of the program, or at least 25 percent of the core coursework. (Note: Does not apply to those institutionally-accredited members seeking initial programmatic accreditation; however, an additional on-site evaluation may be required.)

(6) The coursework required for graduation, including didactic instruction and externship, provides the following:

(a) Medical Assisting

· attainment of entry-level competencies (see MA.A.1. in Chapter VII-MA), and consists of at least a 24-week full-time program of training.

(b) Medical Laboratory Technology

· attainment of entry-level competencies (see MLT.A.1. in Chapter VII-MLT), and at least 60-semester credit hours, 90 quarter credit hours, or its recognized clock-hour equivalent (normally two academic years) of training.

(c) Surgical Technology

· consistency with the current Core Curriculum for Surgical Technology, produced by the Association of Surgical Technologists (www.ast.org). Note: Currently accredited institutional members must adhere to the requirements for programmatic eligibility when adding a surgical technology program, which includes submission of the Application for Programmatic Accreditation.

c) Master’s Degree Eligibility

An institution or program currently accredited by ABHES that wishes to offer a master’s degree level program is eligible to apply for and be considered for approval if it meets the following criteria:

(1) currently approved to award a baccalaureate degree;

(2) have current enrollment in a baccalaureate degree program; and

(3) have graduated at least one baccalaureate degree cohort.

d) Eligibility Outside of ABHES Scope of Recognition

ABHES may accredit institutions and programs outside the scope of recognition by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education (Secretary). The principal difference between participation in accreditation activities within ABHES’s scope of recognition is that accreditation under this section and outside that scope does not provide successful applicants with accreditation recognized by the Secretary.

An institution or program that participates in accreditation activities outside the ABHES scope of recognition may expect to benefit from objective assessment and feedback according to ABHES standards of accreditation.

(1) The Commission, acting through its Executive Committee, may from time to time consider eligible applications for accreditation that are outside ABHES’s scope of recognition by the Secretary.

(2) The Executive Committee shall determine and publish the specific policies and procedures for applications for accreditation that are outside ABHES’s scope of recognition, including specific limits on eligibility and fees for accreditation.

(3) An institution or program that is accredited pursuant to this section may truthfully represent that it is accredited by ABHES only when it makes clear that the grant of accreditation under this section is not recognized by the Secretary.

Any institution or program submitting an application for accreditation pursuant to this section and outside the scope of recognition by the Secretary does so with the understanding that the accreditation to be awarded is not recognized by the Secretary, and further that it may not be eligible to participate in any program such as federal Title IV funding that requires accreditation by an agency recognized by the Secretary.

Initial ABHES Accreditation Timeline

ABHES has two travel cycles per year. The first travel cycle is from February through early May for Commission review in July; and the second travel cycle is from August through early November for Commission review in the following January.

Initial Applications RECEIVED between February 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020

PROGRAMMATIC SER’s due November 1, 2020
• On-Site Team Visit between February and early May 2021
• Reviewed by the Commission at its July 2021 Meeting

INSTITUTIONAL Draft SER due November 1, 2020
• Prelim Visitation between February and April 2021
• Final SER due May 1, 2021
• On-Site Team Visit between August and early November 2021
• Reviewed by the Commission at its January 2022 Meeting

Initial Applications RECEIVED between August 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021

PROGRAMMATIC SER’s due May 1, 2021
• On-Site Team Visit between August and early November 2021
• Reviewed by the Commission at its January 2022 Meeting

INSTITUTIONAL Draft SER due May 1, 2021
• Prelim Visitation between August and October 2021
• Final SER due November 1, 2021
• On-Site Team Visit between February and early May 2022
• Reviewed by the Commission at its July 2022 Meeting

Initial Applications RECEIVED between February 1, 2021, and July 31, 2021

PROGRAMMATIC SER’s due November 1, 2021
• On-Site Team Visit between February and early May 2022
• Reviewed by the Commission at its July 2022 Meeting

INSTITUTIONAL Draft SER due November 1, 2021
• Prelim Visitation between February and April 2022
• Final SER due May 1, 2022
• On-Site Team Visit between August and early November 2022
• Reviewed by the Commission at its January 2023 Meeting

Renewal Accreditation Timeline

Self-Evaluation Reports (SER) are provided for completion approximately 12-18 months prior to the expiration of a grant of accreditation. The renewal application and SER’s are emailed to selected schools in January and June of each year based upon the assigned travel cycle.

Workshop Attendance Requirement

Accreditation Workshop attendance is required within 12 months PRIOR to the SER deadline. Workshops are held in February, April, September and October of each year. Click on the events tab and select Accreditation Workshops to view the current workshop listing and/or to register online.

Generally, the initial application process takes between 18 to 24 months for institutional applicants and usually up to 12 months for programmatic applicants. There are two travel cycle per year, each followed by a Commission meeting. An initial institutional applicant is required to undergo two on-site visits; 1) a preliminary visit, and 2) a full team visit. Programmatic applicants are not required 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.

*Note for programmatic applicants: At the time of the on-site visit pursuant to Chapter II.B.5 of the Accreditation Manual, at the time of the visit, the program will have student participation in clinical experience activities, as applicable, to permit evaluation of program operations and of student progress, satisfaction, and retention. In addition, the program will have enrolled students who have completed at least 50% of the program, or at least 25% percent of the core coursework.

The application and review process is as follows (see the Application Process link for details):

1) Application submission

2) Self Evaluation Report (SER) provided for completion (Upon acceptance of the application)

3) Attendance at an ABHES Accreditation Workshop, usually held in the months of February, April, September, and October of each year)

4) Undergo a preliminary visit (following attendance at the accreditation workshop and submission of the DRAFT Self Evaluation Report (SER)) – Institutional Applicants Only; Optional for Programmatic Applicants

5) FINAL SER submission (May 1 and November 1 of each year)

6) Undergo full on-site team visit (1st Cycle: Jan-May; 2nd Cycle: August – November)

7) Response to team reports (3 weeks from receipt of completed reports)

8) Review and action by the Commission at either of its two meetings held in January and July of each year.

ABHES is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as both an institutional and specialized programmatic accrediting agency with scope that focuses on health care education and training. Generally, schools that wish to seek institutional accreditation are not currently accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools wishing to seek programmatic accreditation are already accredited by a recognized agency, but are interested in graduates of either a Medical Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technology and/or Surgical Technology program the eligibility to sit for various credentialing exams in such fields.

Schools wishing to seek institutional accreditation must offer at least 70% health education, which is defined as an educational institution that offers programs predominantly in the health education field. An institution meets this requirement if (1) 70 percent or greater of its full-time equivalent students are enrolled in the health programs, or (2) 70 percent of its active programs are in the health education field, provided that a majority of an institution’s full-time equivalent students are enrolled in those programs. A program is active if it has a current student enrollment and is seeking to enroll students. Institutional applicants must evidence that it meets all of the eligibility criteria outlined in Chapter II, Section A, Institutional Eligibility of the Accreditation Manual.

An institution wishing to seek initial institutional accreditation must ensure that it complies with the eligibility requirements outlined in Chapter II, Section A of the ABHES Accreditation Manual.  When the institution determines that it meets and can document compliance with all of the eligibility criteria, visit https://www.abhes.org/apply-for-institutional-accreditation for detailed application instructions.

After the required information has been reviewed, the institution will be informed of its status and visitation requirements, and will be directed to complete a Self-Evaluation Report (SER).  The institution will also be required to submit an audited financial statement  to contain the elements included on the Audited Financial Review Sheet.  A grant of accreditation will be contingent upon receipt, review and approval of the audited statement. 

In addition, initial applicants are also required to attend an Accreditation Workshop within 12 months of submission of the SER.  The individual(s) designated to attend the workshop must be employed by the institution and directly involved in the accreditation and self-evaluation process (e.g., school director, director of education, dean, etc.).  See the Workshop Listing for dates and times of upcoming workshops and to register online.

An institution wishing to seek initial programmatic accreditation must ensure that the program(s) (i.e., Medical Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technology, and/or Surgical Technology) complies with the programmatic eligibility requirements outlined in Chapter II, Section B of the ABHES Accreditation Manual NOTE: Institutions that are currently institutionally accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA); a hospital or laboratory-based training school; or a program in a Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital, a rehabilitation facility, or a federally-sponsored Armed Forces program, can seek programmatic accreditation for one or more of the following programs: Medical Assisting, Medical Laboratory Technology, and/or Surgical Technology. Once the institution confirms and is able to document its program(s)’ compliance with the programmatic eligibility criteria, visit https://www.abhes.org/apply-for-programmatic-accreditation for detailed application instructions.

In addition, initial applicants are also required to attend an Accreditation Workshop within 12 months of submission of the SER.  The individual(s) designated to attend the workshop must be employed by the institution and directly involved in the accreditation and self-evaluation process (e.g., director of education, program director, etc.).  See the Workshop Listing for dates and times of upcoming workshops and to register online.

The accreditation workshop is open to all and it is required of any institution/program seeking an initial or renewed grant of accreditation. A representative from each campus location, if seeking institutional accreditation, or each program, if seeking programmatic accreditation is required to attend an Accreditation Workshop prior to submission of the Self Evaluation Report (SER). The individual(s) designated to attend the workshop must be employed by the institution and directly involved in the accreditation and self-evaluation process (e.g., school director, director of education, program director, etc.). The workshop attendance is valid for a one year period during the initial application process. In the event of a delay in the process a second attendance workshop at an accreditation workshop may be required. There are approximately four accreditation workshops held each year in February, April, September, and October. See the Listing of Workshops for details and to register online.

Upon receiving a grant of initial accreditation, an annual sustaining fee is assessed each year of the length of the grant awarded by the Commission.  See Appendix G of the Accreditation Manual for a complete listing of all User fees and the Annual Sustaining Fee Schedule.

Schools seeking accreditation for the first time should consider the following expenses when budgeting:

INSTITUTIONAL APPLICANTS:

Expenses/Fees
Amount
Notes
Initial Application Fee
$4,000
Includes all programs offered by the institution to be reviewed during the accreditation process.
Reviewed Financial Statement
‡$4,000 and $20,000
A reviewed (or audited) financial statement must be submitted with the initial Application for Accreditation.
Institutional Accreditation Workshop Registration Fee
$650
Increases to $700 if registering within 30 days of the workshop or on-site.
Preliminary On-Site Visit Deposit
$1,500 per team member for the first day;
$500 per team member for each additional day
Team visits are typically 2 days in length and there is a 3-member team minimum.  Team size can increase depending on the number of programs offered and/or if any program is delivered via distance education.
On-Site Team Visit Fee
$1,500 per team member for the first day;
$500 per team member for each additional day
Team visits are typically 2 days in length and there is a 3-member team minimum.  Team size can increase depending on the number of programs offered and/or if any program is delivered via distance education.
Audited Financial Statement
‡$7,000 and $50,000
Audited financial statement is to be submitted on June 30 or December 31 depending on the Commission meeting where the school’s file is to be reviewed.
Annual Sustaining Fees
*$2,200 – $15,000
Due annually based upon gross annual tuition per the Fees Appendix, of the Accreditation Manual.
PROGRAMMATIC APPLICANTS:
Expenses/Fees
Amount
Notes
Initial Application Fee
$4,000
Required for each eligible Medical Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technology; and/or Surgical Technology Programmatic Application for Accreditation.
Workshop Registration Fee
$650
Increases to $700 if registering within 30 days of the workshop or on-site.
On-Site Team Visit Fee
$1,500 per team member for the first day;
$500 per team member for each additional day
Team visits are typically 2 days in length and there is a 3-member team minimum.  Team size can increase depending on the number of programs offered and/or if any program is delivered via distance education.
Annual Sustaining Fees
*$1,500 – $14,000
Due annually based upon number of students enrolled annually in the eligible programs (listed above) per the Fees Appendix, of the Accreditation Manual.
‡ Accountants do not have a standard schedule of fees for audits. CPAs use their hourly rate to calculate the fee based on the amount of time needed to complete the assignment. Most CPAs establish hourly rates based on their level of expertise and location. CPAs associated with large well-established firms can also command higher fees. The time required to complete your audit or reviewed financial statement will be directly related to the complexity of your business.

*Annual Sustaining Fee:

Upon receiving a grant of initial accreditation, an annual sustaining fee is assessed and each year of the length of the grant awarded by the Commission thereafter.  See Appendix G of the Accreditation Manual for a complete listing of all User Fees and the Annual Sustaining Fee Schedule.

As a leader in health education accreditation for over 40 years, ABHES has been nationally recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a private, non-profit, independent accrediting agency since 1968. It has been at the forefront of advancing the quality of health education programs throughout the country.

ABHES enhances the quality of education and training and promotes institutional and programmatic accountability through systematic and consistent program evaluation. Its key is to assure the quality of the programs it accredits, and assist in the improvement of the programs. This quality-determination is accomplished by rigorous and systematic evaluation based on valid standards.

The goals of ABHES focus on three key areas: recognition, resources, and service; all of which it believes are essential and paramount to achieving its mission.

ABHES-member institutions offer predominantly health education programs and/or medical assistant, medical laboratory technology, and/or surgical technology programs leading to a certificate, diploma, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Occupational Science, Academic Associate , or Baccalaureate degree, including those offered via distance education. Graduates of an ABHES-accredited institution or program are eligible to sit for various credentialing exams optimizing a graduates’ marketability.

ABHES accreditation allows the opportunity for enhancement in that institutions experience the ability to identify strengths and areas in need of improvement for greater institutional/program effectiveness through dynamic workshops, staff assisted self-study, and site visits by experienced and credentialed health specialists.

As a recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Secretary of Education, ABHES is deemed to be a reliable authority concerning the quality of education or training offered by the institutions of higher education or higher education programs it accredits. Institutional accreditation by ABHES may be used to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. ABHES does not process, assist or have any decision-making abilities regarding schools seeking to participate in Title IV funding. Institutionally-accredited member schools interested in Title IV funding must contact the U.S. Department of Education directly at www.ed.gov.

An institution must submit an audited financial statement by June 30 or December 31 depending on the Commission meeting where the school’s file is to be reviewed. A grant of accreditation will be contingent upon receipt, review and approval of the audited statements.

In an effort to assess an initial applicant’s eligibility with ABHES, each applicant should meet the minimum financial stability eligibility requirements stated below.

Initial applicant institutions must submit audited financial statements, which include a balance sheet, an income statement covering a twelve-month period, a statement of cash flows, and all appropriate disclosures (including footnotes). These financial statements must be prepared by an outside agency or individual according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) on an accrual basis.

The audited financial statement must contain the elements included on the Audited Financial Review Sheet.

Per the ABHES Accreditation Manual, the following financial standards are required:

SECTION B – Financial Capability 

IV.B.1. An institution demonstrates that it has the financial resources to ensure continuity of operation and to fulfill its obligations to students and employees. 

The financial well-being of an institution requires regular oversight by management. The institution demonstrates it has revenues and assets available to meet the institution’s responsibilities, including continuity of service and the accomplishment of overall educational objectives.  Institutions will submit audited financial statements.  Factors to be considered include but are not limited to ratio of current assets to current liabilities for the most recent operating year; history of operating results; and net worth.