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Accreditation Process and Resources

Planning for NCCA Accreditation?

Eligibility: A certification program may apply for accreditation after one year of assessment administration or administration to at least 500 candidates using the current assessment mechanism, whichever comes first.

Be sure to take these first steps:

  1. Read and review the the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.

    • The accreditation application requires applicants to provide written explanations and supporting evidence of their program's compliance with the NCCA Standards.
  2. Use the NCCA self-assessment checklist 

    • This is a tool for your own evaluation purposes and is not to be submitted to the NCCA as part of the application process. The NCCA self-assessment checklist is available to help you to gauge your program's readiness to apply for accreditation. 

Application Process

Application submission deadlines occur three times per year:

  • January 31st
  • April 30th
  • August 31st

The application process takes 4 - 5 months to complete; from the time the application is submitted to the time the applicant receives official notification of the accreditation decision.

Access the NCCA 2016 Standards Training. The training highlights the application process and summarizes the intent and requirements of each Standard. 

Application Review

The NCCA utilizes a tiered application review process for both new and currently accredited programs. The benefits of this process are:

  • Enhanced initial screening of applications;
  • Opportunity for all programs to address initial staff inquiries within 10 business days so that a more complete application can be forwarded for review
  • Prompt feedback from an in-depth review for new and currently accredited programs; and
  • Increased opportunity for programs to implement necessary changes to come into compliance with the Standards.

Walk through the review process using this diagram 

Accreditation Decisions

Applicants will receive official notification of the status of their program(s) within 4 - 5 months following their application submission. Notifications are sent via email from the online accreditation portal. ICE staff cannot provide accreditation decisions over the phone or via direct email.  

The Commission can reach one of three possible decisions regarding an application:

  1. Accredit (for a period of 5 years),
  2. Accredit with Compliance Reporting*,
  3. Deny.**

**For first time applicants, following an initial denial, the program is permitted to reapply at one of the next two application deadlines without additional payment of fees.

*Compliance Reporting

If a program is accredited conditioned upon compliance reporting, it must regularly report its progress towards achieving full compliance with the Standards to the Commission.

Compliance Plan: Initially, any organization whose program is accredited “with compliance reporting” must submit a plan to achieve compliance (Compliance Plan) within 60 days of notification. To do this, they access their online application where any Essential Element of a Standard that needs to be addressed will be highlighted in orange and marked “Needs Compliance Plan.” The organization must enter the action(s) it is committing to take in order to address the deficiency, along with the date by which they plan to complete the action(s). After entering a plan for each Essential Element, the organization must resubmit their application. If the resubmission is not received in a timely manner, or it is not accepted by the Commission, the program’s accreditation will be revoked.

Compliance Report: Following the Commission’s acceptance of the Compliance Plan, additional reporting must occur. If a program receives a conditional one-year accreditation, they must submit an Interim Report indicating their progress at six months. A Final Report of actions demonstrating full compliance must be submitted within one year of the initial notification of accreditation. Organizations may enter documentation of activities into their application as they occur; however, they will not be able to resubmit the full application until compliance activities for each Essential Element highlighted in orange have been entered. A program is required to resubmit their application after they have completed their Interim report and again when they have completed their Final report. Failure to submit either report within the required timeframe will result in loss of accreditation. A program is encouraged to achieve full compliance at the earliest possible date. Once full compliance is achieved, the accreditation will be extended for an additional four years beyond the initial term.

Programs granted conditional five-year accreditation must submit a Final Report of compliance activities within six months of notification of their conditional status or their accreditation will be revoked. 

Maintaining NCCA Accreditation

Annual report forms are available to organizations with accredited programs beginning in January each year, to be completed by June 1st each year, via the accreditation portal.

*Please verify that your email system will allow communications from both info@credentialingexcellence.org and lists.smithbucklin.com in order to ensure that you receive timely reminders.

The NCCA requires that each organization with an accredited certification program(s) complete an annual report form to enable the NCCA to monitor continuing compliance with the NCCA Standards. The annual report form is required for several reasons, including:

  • To document compliance with NCCA Standard 24
  • To keep organizations with NCCA accredited programs continually aware of the NCCA Standards
  • To provide organizations the opportunity to receive feedback on any changes that may affect their accreditation status and receive suggested actions to take to maintain compliance with NCCA Standards

In limited situations, the annual report form may provide data leading to revocation of NCCA accreditation after NCCA review, if the certification program fails to respond or its response demonstrates intended lack of compliance with NCCA Standards.

Renewing NCCA Accreditation

Accreditation is valid for a period of 5 years. When a certification program's accreditation is set to expire, the sponsoring organization is required to submit a re-accreditation application and a non-refundable renewal application fee (see current fee structure). The NCCA will not extend accreditation for organizations that do not submit their re-accreditation applications on time.

The re-accreditation application and process is identical to the initial application and process - therefore, it requires a complete new application with all supporting documentation. 

Re-accreditation applications should be submitted according to the following schedule.  This schedule has been designed so that all re-accreditation applications will be reviewed by the Commission and a decision made prior to the program's expiration date.

Accreditation Term Date Application Due Date
November 1 current year – March 31 following year August 31 current year
April 1 - June 30 January 31
July 1 - October 31 April 30