ACICS Applies for Initial Recognition

Hello Members: 

I would like to formally introduce myself as the new President and CEO for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The staff and Council are grateful to our members for your patience as we move forward following the decision by the Department of Education to remove our agency’s long standing recognition. We recognize this is a challenging time and we appreciate your support as we embrace our duty to hold schools accountable for student outcomes; specifically, retention, placement, and licensure pass rates.  

 As you well know, ACICS is fundamentally changing as an organization.  In the last 14 months, we have launched reform efforts and made significant progress in the following categories:

  • ACICS has adopted and aggressively implemented new Accreditation Criteria to improve the effectiveness of its accreditation process, with particular emphasis on student outcomes;

  • ACICS has established and implemented more robust standards, overhauling the architecture for collecting and verifying data, and implementing interim monitoring procedures; 

  • ACICS has overhauled and strengthened its monitoring approaches to identify and report problems with continued compliance; 

  • ACICS has strengthened its standards to be clear that institutions must come into compliance with the Council’s standards within specified time frames or accreditation will be withdrawn. ACICS has taken prompt action to withdraw accreditation from institutions that have failed to meet its standards; and  

  • ACICS has strengthened its governance practices to support the integrity of accreditation process and decision-making.  


While these actions were initiated in response to concerns raised by the Secretary of Education in June of 2016, which culminated in the Department’s decision to withdraw recognition of ACICS as an accreditor in December of that year, I can tell you that they represent much more than an effort to remedy our shortcomings. Indeed, I believe ACICS is taking the steps necessary to become, over time, a leader among accreditors.  I am proud of the tremendous work being advanced by so many members of the ACICS community and I am committed to our shared future.   

With this in mind, we have begun communicating with the Department of Education about the meaningful changes made to date and our plans for maintaining and expanding those reforms in the future. We will submit a formal petition for recognition as a national accreditor to the Department by October 1, and we have asked to be included on the agenda for the Spring 2018 meeting of the National Advisory Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).     

The ACICS leadership takes our oversight responsibilities to accredited institutions and your students seriously.  To that end, in June 2016, we made the decision to no longer accept new applications for initial accreditation, in order to focus our resources on strengthening our standards and practices. Today, we accredit 245 institutions with 570 main and branch campuses throughout the United States and abroad.  ACICS continues to be recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the CHEA Committee on Recognition has recommended to its Board of Trustees that ACICS’s recognition be continued for three years, a decision which has been taken under advisement.   

I am proud of this organization and all the work we have accomplished together in the past 14 months.  Much work remains to be done and the leadership of ACICS is committed to doing everything it takes to re-envision the organization for the future.  I will certainly keep you up-to-date on these efforts and encourage you to be in touch with any questions. In the meantime, thank you for the opportunity to lead this organization at such a critical time; I take the responsibilities very seriously and am hopeful for our future together.   

To this end, please log into your campus account on the ACICS Member Center and click on Support ACICS! on the left hand tool bar to acknowledge your support of ACICS's ongoing efforts to attain recognition.    

Thank you in advance for your support.


Michelle Edwards
President and CEO