Accreditation Handbook—Chapter XVI: Procedures for Achievement and Maintenance of Candidacy Status
Candidacy is available only to applicant programs that
- are newly developed graduate degree programs, including stand-alone programs or those offered through a consortium, AND
- have no students currently enrolled.
Candidacy Milestones and Timelines for a Typical Program
The CAA has designated specific reporting milestones and timelines to assist in planning for new programs that are seeking candidacy status. New programs that are preparing an Application for Candidacy [DOC] must submit the application at least 18 months in advance of the proposed student enrollment date—applications are accepted by February 1 or August 1 each year. New programs must also file a letter of intent to apply 5 months in advance of the expected submission date of candidacy application. NOTE: The CAA reserves the right to limit the number of candidacy applications for any submission date.
Standards Compliance Continuum
Although compliance with all standards is not required at the time of award of candidacy, the CAA’s decision to award candidacy status is based on the program’s submission of a comprehensive development plan (candidacy application) and the program’s and institution’s demonstrated commitment and ability to implement the program fully. New programs are expected to continue to develop throughout its candidacy cycle, and the CAA developed a standards compliance continuum to highlight its expectations for a program’s development and achievement as related to the Standards for Accreditation.
The CAA uses the terms and definitions in the continuum key as follows:
- Planned (P): Compliance with the standard is planned; a comprehensive development plan, timelines, and adequate support for continued development are evident and sustainable.
- Initiated (I): The plan is initiated; review requirements of the standard are in progress, and adequate and sustained support for development is evident.
- Maintained (M): Review requirements of the standard have been met, compliance demonstrated and maintained; program improvement is initiated. Adequate and sustained support for development is evident.
Applicant and candidate programs must use the Candidacy Compliance Continuum [PDF] to guide their preparation and documentation. Programs are expected to demonstrate, at a minimum, the designated level of development outlined in the compliance continuum. The CAA will apply the same continuum and compliance schedule for its review and actions on a program’s candidacy application and annual progress reports. For example, decisions to award candidacy to an applicant program will be based on the expectations listed in the column, “CAA’s award of candidacy.”
Candidacy Program Eligibility to Seek Approval for Substantive Changes
When the CAA grants accreditation or candidacy status to an entry-level graduate education program, accreditation status applies only for the conditions that existed at the time of the CAA’s action. As of January 1, 2020, programs in candidacy are not eligible to seek approval of substantive changes while the program holds candidacy status. Minor changes within the program may take place, which are routinely reported in an annual progress report, and which are part of a healthy educational process and result from ongoing self-assessment and continuous improvement.
However, candidacy programs may not modify their program to add a distance education component, add a satellite or branch campus, or engage in a contractual arrangement with an entity other than an institution of higher education, such as a speech/language/hearing center or other business, in accordance with the CAA’s policy on substantive changes during the candidacy term. See the full policy and related procedures in the Chapter X. J. Seeking Approval of Substantive Changes in the Accreditation Handbook.