Why Eight-Year Accreditation Cycles?

8 Years is 8 Years…

A question often asked is why is the accreditation timeframe for ACEN eight (8) years instead of ten (10) years like other accrediting agencies, and whether ACEN is considering changing its accreditation cycle from eight (8) years to ten (10) years?

About 12 years ago the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) told all accrediting agencies that a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles was too long of an interval. Currently, eight (8) years is the longest acceptable interval between accreditation cycles. Yes, some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year interval between accreditation cycles however, to satisfy the USDOE mandate all institutions/programs must demonstrate compliance through an interim report midway between cycles – at the fifth year. This report carries all the weight that any review by the accrediting agency’s governing board bears.

For example, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has a ten (10) year cycle and Fifth Year Interim Report. The same is true with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which requires all its accredited programs to produce a continuous improvement progress report at the fifth year. So at face value it appears as if some accrediting agencies have a ten (10) year cycle and while true, what many don’t realize is all institutions/programs must write an interim report too. So in reality, institutions/programs are doing an accreditation process/report every five (5) years.

ACEN is not considering changing its eight (8) year accreditation cycle. At ACEN eight (8) years really means eight (8) years; ACEN accredited programs are not doing an accreditation process midway through the accreditation cycle.