Initial Application Process

Begin Initial Application Process

Please see below for all of the steps involved in completing the initial application process. You may begin these steps at any time by clicking on the link above.

ACICS works in collaboration with applicant institutions toward meeting ACICS standards and attaining an initial accreditation status. There is no pre-candidacy or candidacy status with ACICS. The entire process may take from 9 months to 18 months, depending upon the ability of the institution to demonstrate its compliance with ACICS standards. 

The chief on-site administrators of the main campus and all branches must attend an ACICS Initial Accreditation Workshop
before an initial Resource Visit and within 18 months prior to the completion of the Self-Study. The Initial Accreditation Workshop provides valuable guidance to the Self-Study process.

To begin the process, the following steps will need to be completed:

RESPONSIBLE PARTY                        



STEP 1: Complete the Minimum Eligibility Self-Assessment (MESA) Checklist. 

The main and each branch campus MUST meet these minimum standards of eligibility. The institution will not be able to proceed with the initial accreditation process unless the minimum standards of eligibility listed on the MESA Checklist are met. Upon completion and submission of the checklist to ACICS for review, you will receive notification on your ability to proceed with the Initial Registration.  

If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact Ms. Perliter Walters-Gilliam, ACICS Vice President of Accreditation, at  


STEP 2: Register Institution (Main and all branches, including learning sites).  
The link to register will be sent directly to the individual who completed the MESA Checklist above, IF eligible. The registration process requires the provision of critical institutional, campus (main, branch(es), and learning sites), and program information that should be readily available. Additionally, an institutional (cannot be a personal email account) email address and password will need to be created for each main or branch location. ​The person completing the registration will be responsible for communicating the login and password to key institutional personnel. This login and password will be for the institution and should be shared only at the discretion of the CEO or campus president.

There is no fee for the institutional registration. The information provided by the institution assists ACICS in making a determination regarding basic eligibility and in providing further guidance.  


STEP 3: Complete existing contact and administrator information, add any additional campuses and programs and then submit your application for preliminary review. 

Via the ACICS website, click on the “Create an Account​” li​nk
at the top of the homepage to crea​te individual accounts for the chief executive officer and on-site administrators.  Unique email addresses and passwords will be needed for each registration. Additionally, a company (or corporate) account must also be created for the ownership of the institution.


STEP 4: Review Submitted Documentation.
ACICS will review the information submitted by the initial applicant through the online process.

If the initial applicant has met the minimum standards of eligibility and ACICS’s preliminary review indicate that the institution may be a good fit, the institution will be formally invited to submit an Application for Initial Accreditation. The invitation letter will be emailed to the executive officer or president via the institutional email address previously provided. It is the institution's responsibility to ensure that this email is active.





STEP 5: Purchase of the Initial Accreditation Application (Phase IA Uploads).
Once an institution has received an invitation to apply, they may log in, using the username and password created during the registration, and begin uploading documents to their application to complete the first phase. The following documents must be submitted during this first phase:

1. State/Governmental Authorization to Operate (as a post-secondary institution)
Ownership Disclosure (Choose one)
 Ownership Disclosure - Publicly Traded Organization
• Ownership Disclosure - Privately Held
• Ownership Disclosure - Not for Profit Corporation
• Ownership Disclosure - Ltd Partnership w Corp General
• Ownership Disclosure - Ltd Liability Co.
3. Audited Financials Statement for the Most Recent Fiscal Year (Please click here for the Guidelines and Instructions)  


The institution will also be given Initial Applicant access to the ACICS Placement Verification Program (PVP) to begin the process of verifying placement information for graduates within the last 6 months. PVP-verified data will be needed to complete the Initial Campus Accountability Report (ICAR) which will be required for Part II of the application.

Once these documents have been uploaded AND payment has been submitted through the application, the application will be moved to the next step.




STEP 6: Official Application Review by ACICS.
ACICS will review the submitted documents and will communicate with the primary contact if additional information or documents are needed. Audited financials will be analyzed by ACICS for a demonstration of financial stability and institutional capacity to support the education programs. See Section 3-1-204 of the Accreditation Criteria



STEP 7: Initial Resource Visit Preparation (Phase IB Uploads). 

Once the official review is successfully completed, the application will be move to Phase IB enabling the applicant to continue uploading the following documents to the application:  

  •  Official Institutional Catalog
  •  Draft Campus Effectiveness Plan (CEP)
  •  Certificate of Attendance at Initial Accreditation Workshop  


STEP 8: Schedule a Resource Visit. 

Once Phase IB documents have been submitted and reviewed, ACICS will contact the institution to schedule a Resource Visit. An invoice will be generated and sent to the institution for payment prior to the visit taking place.

The function of the resource visit is to verify the application, visit with key individuals on campus, examine a sample of the records, and assess the general readiness of the institution to proceed with its application for accreditation and host a full on-site team visit. It is not the intent of this visit to check the institution’s compliance with all ACICS standards.




STEP 9: Submit payment for the Initial Resource Visit and Host ACICS for Resource Visit
Payment for the Initial Resource Visit is done through the ACICS Member Center.
The resource visit is usually one day and conducted by one ACICS staff. However, at ACICS' discretion, this visit may be longer and include more than one team member. The institution will be advised by ACICS concerning its preparation for this visit.


STEP 10: Submit Resource Visit Report Response (If Applicable).
It may be necessary, at the discretion of the ACICS staff, to require a response to the Resource report prior to approving the continuation of the application process. The report will indicate the response due date, after which review, the institution will be notified of its ability to proceed.
 It is also ACICS' discretion to determine if the institution needs a significant amount of time to demonstrate general compliance with ACICS expectations and standards. This may necessitate the application being placed on hold until a thorough response is received and/or subsequent visit conducted, as determined.


STEP 11: Initial Grant Visit Preparation (Phase Part II Uploads).

• Initial Self-Study Narrative
• Explanation of the Self-Study Process
• Future Plans
• Revised Campus Effectiveness Plan (CEP)
• Revised Institutional Catalog
• Academic Credit Analysis
• Inventory of Equipment
• Faculty and Administrative Staff Summary Form
• Designated Delegate Form*
• Submission of Initial Campus Accountability Report (through Portal)

*The institution's voting representative indicated on the designated delegate form will vote on behalf of the institution during ACICS matters requiring a vote of the members.





STEP 12: Schedule the Initial Grant Accreditation Visit.
ACICS schedules the dates for the team visit in coordination with the institution. All Self Study materials (as outlined above) must be successfully uploaded prior to the scheduling of the visit. Within a month of the travel cycle, the institution will be contacted by the assigned ACICS staff coordinator for visit scheduling.

ACICS will generate and send an invoice for the Initial Grant Visit, at least three (3) weeks prior to the visit which MUST be paid within 10 days before the scheduled review or the visit will be postponed or cancelled.





STEP 13: Submit payment for the Initial Grant Accreditation Visit.
Payment for the Initial Grant Visit is done through the ACICS Member Portal.

Credit cards are the accepted method for payment. 




STEP 14: Conducts its onsite review, Send the Team Report, and Give Institution the opportunity to Respond.
The institution must correct and address all findings and concerns expressed in the team report. The assigned staff coordinator is available to provide assistance as needed. 





STEP 15: All of the materials pertaining to the institution's application, reports of the visit, and the institutional response will be reviewed by the Intermediate Review Committee (IRC) members.
This review takes place approximately 2-3 weeks prior to the Council's scheduled meeting. The IRC's recommendation will be submitted to the Council for consideration.





STEP 16: Application Action by Council

The Council will consider the institution's application, any additional information pertinent to its review, and the recommendation of the IRC to inform its decision on the institution's application for Initial Accreditation.

Possible actions include:
•  Award an Initial Grant of Accreditation for a specified period of time;
•  Defer action on the application until the next meeting, pending receipt of additional information from the institution; or
•  Deny the application for initial accreditation. 

The Council meets in April, August, and December each year. Actions of the Council will be sent in writing within 30 days.

If you need more information on the eligibility requirements, please contact For general questions regarding the initial application process, please contact