Accreditation Process and Resources
Use the arrows next to the various sections of this webpage to access information about the application process, first steps, resources, and the maintenance and renewal processes.
Click on the arrow to access more information regarding eligibility for NCCA accreditation, as well as recommended first steps.
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:
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.
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.
- During this live workshop, presenters will walk through the NCCA Standards and the requirements to meet the essential elements of each Standard. You will gain a better understanding of your organization's readiness and how the accreditation process works, and leave with ideas for how becoming NCCA-accredited can benefit your program and enhance its value.
Use ICE's Industry Partner Directory
- Search under Certification Administration/Management for expertise in “Certification Accreditation Preparation or Standards Compliance"
- ICE's searchable directory can connect you to providers of services and products as you:
- create your program to align with the NCCA Standards,
- make updates to your program as it grows and expands,
- prepare to apply for accreditation,
- and more!
Click on the arrow to access information about: application deadlines, resources, maintaining accreditation, and renewing accreditation.
Application submission deadlines occur three times per year:
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.
Utilize these resources as you work through your accreditation application:
- Security and Confidentiality Checklist. In order to assist accreditation applicants with their efforts to provide evidence in compliance with NCCA Standards 10, 11, 12, and 18, the following checklist is offered.
- Removing Roadblocks and Clearing the Way for Accreditation Success: Part 1 (ICE Digest article.) Learn how awareness of common roadblocks can not only lead to success, but create a commitment to best practices and ongoing improvement.
- The Separation of Certification and Education (ICE Digest article.) The separation of certification and education avoids conflicts of interest and maintains the integrity of the exam, but organizations can offer both and still be in compliance with accreditation requirements.
- Making NCCA Accreditation Work for You (ICE Digest article.) A deep dive into the challenges commonly faced during the re-accreditation process and how an organized approach to quality improvement can mitigate them.
- 2016 NCCA Standards Revisions Recap and Takeaways: What You Need To Know (ICE Digest article.) Certification programs must stay up-to-date with the latest revisions to the NCCA Standards for certification programs.
- NCCA 2016 Standards Training. The training highlights the application process and summarizes the intent and requirements of each Standard.
- NCCA Store. Access even more resources by visiting the accreditation section of our ICE store.
- Industry Partner Directory. Utilize ICE's Industry Partners to help you through the application process.
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:
- Accredit (for a period of 5 years),
- Accredit with Compliance Reporting*,
**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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 are due 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|