Institute for Credentialing Excellence

NCCA 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. 

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

Start Here
(Planning for Accreditation)

(Articles, Guidelines, Templates, More)

Application Process
(Deadlines and Decisions)

Maintaining Accreditation
(Annual Reports and Deadlines)

drop down arow.pngPlanning for NCCA Accreditation?

Click on the arrow to access more information regarding eligibility for NCCA accreditation, as well as recommended first steps.

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. 
  3. Attend the NCCA Accreditation Overview Workshop

    • 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.
  4. Use ICE's Consultant/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!

drop down arow.pngResources

Click on the arrow to access resources for attaining and maintaining accreditation.

Utilize these resources as you work through your accreditation application:

Articles & White Papers

  • The Separation of Certification and Education (Standard 3): 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. 
  • Job Analysis: Beyond the Basics (Standard 14): Job analysis is the cornerstone of any sound, legally defensible credentialing program. This article will discuss some key decisions involved in conducting a job analysis for a credentialing program
  • Removing Roadblocks and Clearing the Way for Accreditation Success Part 1 and Part 2 : Learn how awareness of common roadblocks can not only lead to success, but create a commitment to best practices and ongoing improvement. 
  • Making NCCA Accreditation Work for You: A deep dive into the challenges commonly faced during the re-accreditation process and how an organized approach to quality improvement can mitigate them. 

NCCA Templates, Checklists, Guidance Documents

  • SME Demographic & Activity Template. One example of how to organize the evidence needed for Standard 13, Essential Element D. The template can be updated to include a roster of SMEs per working committee, along with the required qualifications needed to reflect your program’s certificant demographic. Please note that if SMEs names are confidential, complete identifying information can be excluded if sufficient information is provided to evaluate the professional characteristics and qualifications of panelists as well as their specific committee assignments.
  • 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.
  • NCCA Live Remote Proctoring Breaks Guidance Document: For the purpose of compliance with NCCA Standards, the NCCA has developed a guidance document related to security and breaks during live remote proctored exams.
  • NCCA Notice of Material Change Guidance Document: Pursuant to several requests for clarification from accredited programs, the NCCA has developed a guidance document to provide additional examples of potential material changes. The NCCA Standards require programs to notify the Commission in writing prior to making any material changes in the program. This notice to the NCCA can help you identify compliance considerations related to program changes.
  • NCCA Quantifying Panel Targets Guidance Document: Pursuant to several requests for clarification from accredited programs, the NCCA has developed a guidance document to provide additional clarify what is expected with respect to setting targets for panel composition, for the purposes of compliance with NCCA Standard 13: Panel Composition, Essential Element C. 

  • Tips and Tricks for Navigating the NCCA Online Portal. The complimentary training highlights various steps in the application process, reviews the most common technical mistakes when completing an application, and provides tips and tricks for navigating the online platform. 


  • Certification: The ICE Handbook 3rd Edition: This is the third edition of ICE's Handbook, a step-by-step guide to designing and implementing effective professional certification examinations. It is written by recognized experts with applied knowledge of practical experience and expertly edited by James Henderson, Ph.D.  

Searchable Resources

  • NCCA Store. Access even more resources by visiting the accreditation section of our ICE store. 

drop down arow.pngApplication Process

Click on the arrow to access information about: application deadlines, timelines, and decisions.


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.

What happens once you submit your application? When will you receive inquiries? Access the NCCA Accreditation Application Flowchart 



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 (for 1 or 5 years, see below)*,
      3. Deny.**

**For first time applicants, following an initial denial, the program is permitted to reapply at one of the next two application deadlines for a reduced fee.

*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 reaccreditation for one year, 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 five-year accreditation with compliance reporting must submit a Final Report of compliance activities within six months of notification of their status or their accreditation will be revoked. 

Walk through the decision flowchart 

drop down arow.pngMaintaining Accreditation

Click on the arrow to access information about: annual reports, reaccreditation applications and deadlines, and annual fees.



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 and 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 Application Submission 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
December 1 current year – March 31 following year August 31 current year
April 1 - July 31 January 31
August 1 - November 30 April 30



All organizations that have programs accredited by the Commission must pay annual accreditation maintenance fees to remain in good standing. Visit our "Fees" webpage for more details.

Planning and Applying for NCCA Accreditation