To be eligible for consideration for accreditation, an institution or entity must satisfy the following minimum requirements. Use the Self-Assessment Checklist to determine your institution's eligibility.
1. Educational Entity
It shall be an independent (not a public) institution of postsecondary education primarily offering certificates or diplomas and postsecondary institutions offering associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees in programs designed to educate students for professional, technical, or occupational careers. Elementary or secondary schools are not eligible to seek accreditation through ACICS. Other types of educational activity may be considered if it leads to professional enhancement at the postsecondary level.
An institution is presumed to be an institution of postsecondary education if it (1) enrolls a majority of its students in one or more programs, the content of which is on a postsecondary academic level and which leads to a postsecondary academic credential (such as a certificate, diploma, or degree) or an occupational objective; (2) enrolls students who possess a high school diploma or its equivalent, or who are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance and demonstrate, through valid assessment, an ability to benefit from the educational experience; and (3) offers at least one program which is a minimum of 300 clock hours in length, and which leads to an academic credential.
2. Licensing & Experience
It shall be legally organized; be licensed by (1) the appropriate state education agency for postsecondary institutions or (2) the appropriate state agency for authorizing the conduct of business in that state for non-institutional entities; and have offered its educational services to the general public for at least two years immediately prior to consideration of the application by ACICS. The burden is on the institution to demonstrate that it has sufficient number of graduates and enrollment for ACICS to effectively evaluate the institution and the program offerings.
Its primary mission shall be to offer educational programs which help students develop skills and competencies to enhance their careers.
4. Length of Operation and Financial Stability
The institution must show evidence of having offered educational services for a minimum of two years immediately prior to application. It must also demonstrate financial stability as evidenced in an audited financial statement and analyzed by ACICS. A positive net assets and current 1:1 ratio or above of current liabilities to current assets are considered to be minimum requirements. Exceptions may be discussed with ACICS.
Its residential enrollment and enrollment in each program shall be sufficient both to support course work and learning experiences that, separately or in combination, constitute measurable and defined educational programs and to enable ACICS to assess the educational effectiveness of those programs. A current enrollment of 10 or more students in each program may be deemed sufficient. Programs with smaller enrollments may be considered at the discretion of ACICS, and institutions will be required to follow alternate processes. A current enrollment of 10 or more students in each program may be deemed sufficient. Programs with smaller enrollments may be considered at the discretion of ACICS, and institutions will be required to follow alternate processes.
It shall have a sufficient number of graduates from a majority of its programs to enable ACICS to assess the educational effectiveness of those programs. Programs offered at any credential level from which there are no graduates will be reviewed in accordance with standards outlined in the Accreditation Criteria. A minimum of seven graduates over a three-year period immediately prior to application for accreditation is considered sufficient.
It shall be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
It shall be organized as a corporation, as a limited partnership (with a corporate general partner), or as a limited liability company. It cannot be a sole proprietorship or a partnership (without a corporate general partner.) The institution must be organized as a full-fledged educational institution, providing a full array of services to students. (A non-institutional entity may be considered under some circumstances, but they do not qualify for federal student aid programs or to award degree programs.)
Its evaluation for accreditation shall be authorized by the chief executive officer.
Its owner or managers shall not have been debarred by ACICS.