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Glossary of Accreditation Terms

The following are some terms used in the CAAHEP accreditation process.

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Accreditation is granted when a program is in substantial compliance with the accreditation Standards and remains in effect until due process has demonstrated cause for its withdrawal. Only the CAAHEP Board of Directors has the authority to remove accreditation.

Accreditation Record

An Accreditation Record refers to all written materials available to CAAHEP documenting the program’s accreditation history.

Accreditation Standards

Accreditation Standards are qualitative and quantitative measures used in assessing a health science education program’s compliance with established national norms as described in a document called Standards and Guidelines for Educational Programs in (insert profession).

Add-on Track

An Add-on Track is an additional competency statement added to an underlying concentration. At the programmatic level, an add-on track is not a stand-alone program and must be a part of an accredited underlying concentration.

Administrative Probation

Administrative Probation is applied to a program that has not complied with administrative requirements such as the payment of fees, the timely submission of reports, etc.

Adverse Accreditation Decision

An Adverse Accreditation Decision is a CAAHEP action of Withhold Accreditation or Withdraw Accreditation.


A program may Appeal an accreditation decision if the decision resulted in a withdrawal or withhold of accreditation. The program sponsor must show that regarding CAAHEP’s decision: 1) the record does not support the decision; and/or 2) due process and proper procedure were not followed. Programs recommended for probation are not eligible for appeal.

Appeal Panel Member

An Appeal Panel Member is an individual, recommended by the sponsor(s) of the Committee on Accreditation, who has knowledge of the relevant profession, is familiar with accreditation process, has a working knowledge of the appropriate Standards as well as the type of institution sponsoring the health science education program, and has no relationship past or present with the program sponsor or the accreditation process leading to the decision being appealed.


The Awarded refers to the “degree” awarded upon completion of the program (Diploma, Certificate, Associate Degree, Baccalaureate, and Master's Degree). The type of degree offered is dependent on the type of institution within which the program is housed.

CAAHEP Board of Directors

The CAAHEP Board of Directors is responsible for approval of all accreditation recommendations and each set of Standards and Guidelines to which all CAAHEP accredited programs must adhere. Members of the Board are elected for three-year terms from amongst the Commissioners at the annual Commission meeting. Board members can serve two terms.


Certification refers to the passing of an exam by an individual upon completion of an educational program to demonstrate competency in their chosen profession. CAAHEP is not involved in the certification of individuals.


The Commission is the governing entity of CAAHEP comprised of approximately 108 members (Commissioners). The majority of Commissioners represent either a CoA or a Sponsoring Organization. The remaining Commissioners represent deans of 4-year and 2-year colleges. Additionally, the Commission also has two appointed public members and one representative of recent graduates of accredited programs. The two public members serve both on the Commission and on the Board of Directors.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) currently accredits over 2200 education programs in 31 health sciences fields. CAAHEP is an accreditor of programs at the entry level of each profession. CAAHEP was formed in 1994. Its predecessor organization was the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation CAHEA. CAHEA was part of the American Medical Association (AMA). CAAHEP is a Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Committees on Accreditation

There are 25 Committees on Accreditation (CoA) that participate in the CAAHEP system of accreditation. They work in cooperation with CAAHEP by managing the accreditation process in their respective professions and then forwarding recommendations for accreditation to CAAHEP. They are also responsible for providing CAAHEP with the draft language for Standards and Guidelines for their specific profession.


A Complaint is a written and signed allegation received by CAAHEP and the CoA alleging that they or an accredited program are not following established Commission policies or accreditation Standards.


Concentrations refer to specialties within a profession that have separate and independent minimum competency statements. For instance, a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program may offer concentrations in abdominal-extended, cardiac, obstetrics & gynecology or vascular sonography.

Continuing Accreditation

Continuing Accreditation is awarded after a program has already been initially accredited and then subsequently reviewed by the CoA at specified intervals. Continuing accreditation remains in place until the CAAHEP Board votes otherwise. Continuing accreditation is not time limited.

Full Distance Education Program

Full Distance Education Program: Method of delivery in which all instruction within a program is provided through distance education, meaning that the instructor and student are physically separated and using technology to interact. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous.


Guidelines are descriptions, examples, or recommendations that elaborate on the Standards. Guidelines are not required, but can assist with interpretation of the Standards. CoAs develop language for Guidelines as well as Standards; the CAAHEP Board approves and adopts Guidelines as well as Standards. The Standards and Guidelines document published by CAAHEP for each profession includes all the Standards and all the Guidelines.

Inactive Status

Inactive status may be requested at any time. While a program is inactive, they retain their accreditation but they cannot have any students matriculating in the program. A program may remain in inactive status for up to two years. At the end of two years the program must either re-activate or voluntarily withdraw from the CAAHEP system of accreditation.

Initial Accreditation

Initial Accreditation is the first status of accreditation granted to a program that has demonstrated substantial compliance with CAAHEP Standards. Initial accreditation remains in place until another action is taken by the CAAHEP Board.


Probation is a temporary status of accreditation for programs that are not currently in substantial compliance with the accreditation Standards but are expected to be able to meet them within a specified time. Programs on probation are required to provide progress reports on their efforts to come into compliance with Standards.

Programmatic Accreditor

CAAHEP is a Programmatic Accreditor. This means that CAAHEP reviews individual programs not institutions. Each program that wishes to achieve CAAHEP accreditation must request and receive accreditation separately.

Proprietary Institutions

Proprietary Institutions are “for profit” corporations that offer educational programs. These corporations frequently have campuses across the country.  As with all of CAAHEP’s accreditations, each program at each institution campus must apply for and receive its own accreditation status.


Reconsideration is a CoA’s second consideration of a status of public recognition recommendation, based on the conditions that existed when the Committee on Accreditation formulated its original recommendation and on subsequent documented evidence of corrected deficiencies at the time of the second consideration. Reconsideration must be offered when a CoA is planning on forwarding a recommendation of probation, withhold, and/or withdraw accreditation. A request for reconsideration does not guarantee or imply that the CoA will ultimately change their recommendation to CAAHEP.


A Satellite program is an off-campus location(s) that is advertised or otherwise made known to individuals outside the sponsor. The off-campus location(s) must offer all of the professional didactic and laboratory content of the program. A satellite does not pertain to the sites used by completing on-line/distance education program for individual students. Satellite(s) are included in the CAAHEP accreditation of the sponsor and function under the direction of the Key Personnel of the program. Committees on Accreditation may establish additional requirements that are consistent with CAAHEP Standards and policies.

Sponsoring Organizations

Sponsoring Organizations are associations or agencies that, among their many activities, sponsor CAAHEP and at least one CoA. Some associations sponsor more than one CoA.


A Standard is a requirement that educational programs must meet to be accredited.

Transfer of Sponsorship

Transfer of Sponsorship is requested by an institution/school/college when they intend to turn over management and administrative responsibility for an accredited program to a different entity. The new sponsoring institution is fully responsible for assuring that the program continues to comply with the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines.

Voluntary Withdrawal of Accreditation

Voluntary Withdrawal of Accreditation occurs when a sponsoring institution requests that its program(s) be removed from the CAAHEP system of accreditation. A program may voluntarily withdraw from the CAAHEP system of accreditation at any time.

Withdrawal of Accreditation

Withdrawal of Accreditation occurs when a program is no longer in compliance with the accreditation Standards and all attempts to remedy the deficiencies have failed.

Withhold of Accreditation

Withhold of Accreditation occurs when a program seeking initial accreditation is not in compliance with the accreditation Standards making it impossible for the CoA to forward a positive accreditation recommendation.