Frequently Asked Questions for Institutions Seeking Accreditation

Please note that this FAQ sheet provides summarized content only. Please refer to the DEAC Accreditation Handbook for a complete listing of all DEAC processes, procedures, standards and policies.

What is the first critical step in the accreditation process?

A key person at the institution who will be leading or central to the accreditation application process must enroll in and successfully complete the Preparing for DEAC Accreditation tutorial to qualify as a compliance officer. The course is available through DEAC’s the Online Training Center . This tutorial must be completed within one year prior to submitting the application for accreditation. DEAC does not accept applications for accreditation without a copy of the Certificate of Completion for the tutorial from the key person who completed the course.

When will the Application for Accreditation receive approval?

After completing the Preparing for DEAC Accreditation online tutorial, an institution seeking DEAC accreditation or reaccreditation must submit an application for accreditation and associated nonrefundable fee. The application requires information intended to establish the applicant’s eligibility (or continued eligibility in the case of institutions applying for reaccreditation) based on the standards of eligibility set forth in the DEAC Accreditation Handbook. DEAC makes its determination of eligibility based primarily on an institution’s application but may also request and review additional information from the applicant and/or third parties in order to reach its determination. The burden of proving eligibility is on the applicant institution. Compliance with the eligibility criteria must be maintained throughout the accreditation evaluation process and any subsequent term of accreditation. Please also see pp 13‒16 in the DEAC Accreditation Handbook.

How long is an application for accreditation valid?

An application for accreditation is valid for one year from the date it is received by the Commission.

As a new applicant, how soon is a draft of our Self-Evaluation Report (SER) required for submission?

Preparing the Self-Evaluation Report may take only a few months for a small institution or as many as nine months to a year for a large institution. Please contact DEAC regarding a submission timeframe. After DEAC receives the SER, the DEAC staff will schedule a Readiness Assessment by an expert evaluator. The evaluator will review the SER to determine if the institution is prepared to undergo a full onsite examination by an examining committee.

What is a readiness assessment?

For initial applicants, the next step after receipt of DEAC’s application acceptance letter is a readiness assessment conducted by an independent DEAC-appointed evaluator. The readiness assessment provides a preliminary evaluation of the institution. It is not a comprehensive examination nor should a finding of “ready” by the evaluator be construed as an indication that an institution is likely to be granted accreditation if it proceeds with the more extensive accreditation evaluation. Rather, it is intended to determine whether or not the institution has sufficient strength and stability to successfully undergo a full evaluation, and therefore whether a commitment of the institution’s and DEAC’s resources in administering such an evaluation is merited. The assessment also provides guidance to the institution on the actions necessary for the institution to prepare for the more in-depth, rigorous, and comprehensive review.

How long does the accreditation process take?

Generally, it can take about 18-24 months for the entire procedure. A smaller institution may be able to prepare for accreditation in as few as 18 months. The Commission meets in January and June, so prospective applicants are advised to initiate the process at least 12 months before the meeting they wish to have their application considered. After the Application for Accreditation is accepted, institutions must complete all steps of the accreditation process within 12 to 18 months after the determination of eligibility is communicated by DEAC.

From whom may one seek advice in preparing to undergo an accreditation review?

DEAC staff in Washington are available for consultation regarding any questions about the accrediting process, procedures, or standards. Please contact the Commission offices for assistance.

As an applicant, may an institution refer to seeking accreditation from the DEAC Accrediting Commission or refer to an applicant status in its literature or promotional materials?

An initial applicant institution may not suggest that it is accredited by or will be accredited by or otherwise carries any form of approval by DEAC unless and until accreditation has been finally granted, and then solely in accordance with the rules for referencing DEAC accreditation set forth in Standard VII.B. When an institution applies for initial accreditation, it must certify on its application for accreditation that it “agrees to not make any promotional use of its application for accreditation status prior to receiving DEAC accreditation.” If DEAC is informed that an applicant institution has violated the foregoing prohibition, the DEAC executive director will notify the institution immediately and tell them to cease and desist.

What does the On-site Evaluation process entail?

The on-site evaluation provides an opportunity for evaluators to meet with key staff members, faculty/instructors, principal managers, outside accountants, governing board members, and advisory council members in order to verify that the institution is meeting its mission, can demonstrate successful student achievement, and otherwise operates in accordance with DEAC accreditation standards. All such institutional personnel must be present or readily available by telephone or other link during the on-site visit. Before the on-site evaluation, each evaluator develops a comprehensive picture of the institution’s operations by completing a thorough review of the SER and then answers questions on the evaluation form provided by DEAC. The Chair of the on-site team is responsible for the completion of the on-site evaluation in accordance with DEAC’s processes and procedures and ensures that each evaluator completes his/her tasks during the on-site evaluation. A DEAC staff member accompanies the on-site team throughout the on-site evaluation to ensure objectivity, impartiality, uniformity, consistency in the interpretation of standards, and adherence to established procedures and to serve as a liaison between the on-site team and the Commission. 

Do outside observers serve on visiting examining committees?

DEAC routinely extends an invitation to the appropriate state licensing agency to participate in the on-site evaluation as an observer. As needed, representatives from the U.S. Department of Education may participate as observers. The Chair’s Report and the Institution’s Response to the Chair’s Report are shared with state or federal observers who attended the on-site visit.

Is reimbursement for travel expenses for visiting examining committees required in addition to the on-site examination fees?

No. The on-site examination fee is a “flat fee” which includes the cost of travel for the Examining Committee members.

How much does the accreditation visit cost?

The fees for an on-site review vary according to the size of the institution and the number of its courses and site locations. An institution with one course seeking initial accreditation can expect the fee to range between $8,000 and $15,000. Larger institutions with many courses can expect a higher fee.