Process, Timeline & Cost

Information for Programs Applying for Accreditation in 2019-20 cycle and 2020-21 cycle


The 2019-20 accreditation cycle is underway, applications were due on August 1, 2019. The Commission established the following deadlines for the 2020-21 accreditation review cycle:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Pre-application process opens for the 2020-21 cycle.

Friday, December 6, 2019
Deadline to submit a completed pre-application for review.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Deadline to submit a completed accreditation application for peer review.


A concurrent enrollment partnership (CEP) is eligible to apply for NACEP accreditation if it meets the following minimum criteria:

  • Is a Post-secondary Institutional Member of NACEP in good standing. CEP programs that are not currently members of NACEP must also complete a New Member Application.
  • Is operated by an institution of higher education accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized Regional Institutional Accrediting Agency.
  • Is operated by an institution authorized or licensed by the state agency for higher education in any state or country where it offers concurrent enrollment.
  • Has continuously offered NACEP-defined concurrent enrollment courses for at least three consecutive school years.
  • Has implemented the policies and procedures described in all NACEP standards prior to applying.
  • Can submit documentation that the practices described in the standards were in place during the preceding school year.
  • Can submit completed program evaluation reports for each survey type identified in the Evaluation Standards.

Typically a CEP program has been in programmatic self-study review for at least one year prior to applying.

NACEP accreditation is valid for 5 years for initial accreditation and then 7 years for re-accreditation; concurrent enrollment programs must apply for NACEP re-accreditation 4 years after their initial accreditation in order to maintain continuous accreditation. To remain an accredited program during this period, programs must be postsecondary members of NACEP in good standing, pay annual fees required of accredited programs, and continue to implement policies and follow practices that meet NACEP standards.

The accreditation process includes five main steps:

  1. Self Study
  2. Attend an Accreditation Institute within 12 months of putting in your Pre-application packet
  3. File Pre-Application Packet and Undergo Candidacy Review
  4. Prepare and Submit a Completed Accreditation Application
  5. Peer Review
Accreditation Application Fees for 2019
  • Pre-application Fee: $200
    If given a required Accreditation Advisor, there is an additional $750 service fee
  • Application Processing Fee: $500

An accredited concurrent enrollment program must remain a postsecondary member in good standing to maintain their accredited status. Accredited programs pay an Annual Accreditation Fee of $250 per year, on top of membership fees.

SITE VISITS: Site visits will be required of all applicants, for both initial and re-accreditation, beginning with the 2021-22 review cycle. One staff member, Peer Reviewer, or Accreditation Commission member will visit the institution for one day. Additional members of the Peer Review Team, staff, and the coordinating Commissioner will join virtually. Applicants will cover the site visitor’s travel and lodging expenses.

For the 2019-20, and 2020-21 application review cycles, NACEP reserves the right to request a site visit if the Commission believes that a site visit is necessary to clarify concerns raised during the evidence review. If the Commission believes that a site visit is warranted, the concurrent enrollment program seeking accreditation or re-accreditation will be expected to pay for travel and lodging for members of the review team.

Step 1: Self Study
CEP Self Study—begins one to two years prior to submitting an application

A concurrent enrollment partnership seeking NACEP initial or renewed accreditation should begin a self study one to two years in advance of submitting an application. During the self study, programs typically assemble a team of individuals involved in concurrent enrollment from a variety of perspectives (e.g. program staff, participating faculty, registrar’s office, academic affairs, institutional research, etc.). The self study team should review the manner in which the program implements all 16 of NACEP’s standards, develop implementation plans for any standards not yet in place, and identify the evidence and documentation necessary to complete an application. During the self study, prospective applicants are encouraged to access NACEP’s self study resources to strengthen their CEP program, which are available to members under Member Resources.

Step 2: File Pre-Application and Undergo Candidacy Review

Deadline: Friday, December 6, 2019 for 2020-21 Cycle
Click to start your Pre-application Packet here.

Concurrent enrollment partnership (CEP) programs seeking NACEP accreditation must complete a Pre-application packet the year they plan to submit an accreditation application. The Commission accepts Pre-application packets from October through December. Completing the Pre-application packet signals to NACEP that a college intends to submit an accreditation application this year, ensures that NACEP can contact you with important updates about the accreditation process, and triggers a Candidacy Review. Immediately after you file a Pre-application packet, an Accreditation Commissioner will conduct a Candidacy Review to determine that your program is ready to submit a complete and well-organized accreditation application. The Commissioner will approve the program’s list of disciplines that are used to organize the application.

The Pre-application packet must be submitted online and includes questions about:

You can review the full list of questions in advance, and also save a draft of your work before submitting. Please consider the list of disciplines carefully as this will be the basis for how your application will be organized. See page 6 of the NACEP Accreditation Guide for more information. Your list of disciplines must be approved by your assigned Commissioner. The Commission may request a different breakdown.

During the Candidacy Review, the Commission will determine whether to:

  • Approve your Pre-Application, allowing you to prepare and submit a full Application;
  • Not approve your Pre-Application, thus you will not be eligible to submit a full Application until the following application cycle; or
  • Provisionally approve your Pre-Application due to outstanding concerns. In this case, you will be assigned an Accreditation Advisor to assist you with preparing the rest of your application if you wish to apply this cycle. There will be a $750 service fee for the Accreditation Advisor to cover the person’s time working with you.  The Advisor will inform the commission if s/he determines that you are ready to submit an application in this cycle or not.

The filing fee for the Pre-application Packet is $200, payable online by purchasing/credit card or by check. Pre-application Packets must be filed the school year a CEP plans to submit an accreditation application.

Click here for a visual of the Accreditation Pre-Application Process

Step 3: Prepare and Submit a Completed Accreditation Application
Deadline: Thursday, August 1, 2019 for 2019-20 Cycle

A CEP typically takes 4-6 months to prepare an accreditation application. Instructions and forms should be downloaded here. NACEP only accepts electronic applications submitted via NACEP’s secure, password-protected document upload site (instructions will be provided to all applicants). Applications must follow NACEP’s Requirements for Preparing Electronic Accreditation Applications to ensure that the application is well-organized to facilitate peer review. Upon receipt, the program is invoiced an Accreditation Application Fee.

A complete application consists of:

  • A program description, including a description of the university or college context within which the program operates
  • A complete NACEP coversheet for each standard, explaining how the applicant fulfills the standard and describing the evidence submitted
  • Evidence showing the program meets or exceeds each NACEP standard. The evidence includes comprehensive descriptions with contextual detail as well as sample documents illustrating that appropriate processes, policies and procedures are in place to ensure continued implementation.
Step 4: Peer Review
August 2019-April 2020

Under the guidance of a member of the Accreditation Commission, applications are reviewed by a two to three-person peer review teams who report their findings to the Accreditation Commission.  The Commission votes on all decisions regarding granting or denying accreditation.

Immediately after an application is submitted, an Accreditation Commissioner screens the application for completeness.  If an application is missing only a few pieces of required evidence, they may ask for additional documentation before a Peer Review Team is assigned.  If an application is judged to be incomplete and not ready to be reviewed, it will not be assigned to a Peer Review Team, and the application will be withdrawn from consideration during that review cycle.

Each application is evaluated by a team of two to three peer reviewers from NACEP-accredited programs. The reviewers are professionals in concurrent enrollment — program directors, faculty liaisons, administrators, cep high school instructors or other concurrent enrollment staff — and come from outside the state or system seeking accreditation. They thoroughly analyze each application and deliberate through conferencing. Based on their initial review of the application, the Peer Review Team will request clarification and additional documentation.

Following the initial review the Peer Review Team conducts an interview with the applicant, either in person Sunday at the NACEP National Conference or via teleconferencing and/or videoconferencing. The interview is an opportunity for the Peer Review Team to gain a better understanding of your program and the context in which it operates.

Commissioners provide ongoing support to peer review teams as they evaluate whether the application includes enough documentation of the type that fulfills the intent of each standard. Because there is great variation in institutional terminology and partnership programming, reviewers may request more information and documentation to clearly understand how a program ensures NACEP standards are met. NACEP does not typically conduct site visits, although it reserves the right to request a site visit if there are areas that can best be clarified in person. Once the review is concluded, the assigned Accreditation Commissioner presents the findings of the Peer Review Team and a recommendation to the NACEP Accreditation Commission for a vote at an April Commission meeting.

Changes for 2020-21 Accreditation Cycle

In the 2020-21 accreditation cycle, the Commission will only ask for one round of additional evidence verses two.  This change will impact the Accreditation Timeline which will wrap up by March 1, 2021 verses May 1, 2021.  Interviews will happen Sunday of the National Conference or by teleconference this cycle.

Site Visits

Please note, site visits will be required of all applicants beginning with the 2021-22 review cycle. One staff member, reviewer, or commissioner will go to the institution for one day and everyone else will be brought in virtually. The cost of this will fall on the program going through the accreditation process.

Specific questions about the process and timeline may be directed to Diana Johnson, the Chair of the Accreditation Commission.

19-20 Accreditation Timeline

20-21 Accreditation Timeline

Step 4.5: The Interview

The Interview is a crucial part of the Accreditation Process. It provides the applicant a chance to obtain clarification from the Peer Review Team.  The Interview also provides the Peer Review Team with a better understanding of the program.  Interviews will either take place in-person on the Sunday of the National Conference or by teleconference.