The procedure for achieving initial membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is found in the policy entitled Accreditation Procedures for Applicant Institutions. The procedure for campuses of SACSCOC member institutions to secure separately-accredited status is found in the policy entitled Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution. The standards of the Commission are found in The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement, which opens with a section on the mission, philosophy, and organization of SACSCOC.
The Handbook for Institutions Seeking Initial Accreditation describes the process of moving from Applicant to Candidate to Member institution.
Step #1 – The Pre-Applicant Workshop
Prior to submitting an Application for Membership, all prospective applicants (including campuses of member institutions seeking separate accreditation) are required to attend a one-day Workshop for Pre-Applicants, which is designed to (1) review the procedures for attaining membership, (2) provide an understanding of the Commission and its accreditation procedures, and (3) explain how to complete the application. (Pre-Applicant Workshop Agenda) This workshop is held two times a year – in February and October – at the Commission's office in Decatur, GA. (2017-2018 Calendar of Workshop Dates) Registration closes one week before the workshop. Because workshop space is limited, institutions may register a maximum of two persons. (Registration Form: SACSCOC Pre-Applicant Workshop) The registration fee includes all materials, lunch, and beverages throughout the day. Information on hotels/motels in the area is included in the registration confirmation email.
All attendees at the Workshop for Pre-Applicants are invited to attend a one-day Institutional Effectiveness Workshop for Pre-Applicants, which is designed to illustrate how to write adequate narratives and appropriately document compliance with the three SACSCOC standards that have historically proven most difficult for applicants to address -- Core Requirement 2.5 and Comprehensive Standards 3.3.1 and 3.5.1. (Pre-Applicant Institutional Effectiveness Workshop Agenda) This workshop is held two times a year – in February and October – at the Commission's office in Decatur, GA, on the day following the Workshop for Pre-Applicants. (2017-2018 Calendar of Workshop Dates) Registration closes one week before the workshop. Because workshop space is limited, attendance is limited to two individuals per institution. (Registration Form: SACSCOC Pre-Applicant Institutional Effectiveness Workshop) The registration fee includes all materials, lunch, and beverages throughout the day.
Step #2 – Preparation and Submission of an Application for Membership
The time required to prepare a successful application varies from several months to a year or two. The Application for Membership is presented below in two formats: Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Application for Membership (Microsoft Word Format) (Updated Jan 2012)
Application for Membership (Adobe Acrobat Format) (Updated Jan 2012)
When the application is submitted for initial review, it must be accompanied by payment of the application fee ( Schedule of Dues, Fees and other Expenses ).
The following documents provide information that may prove useful to institutions preparing applications:
Faculty Roster and
Faculty Roster Instructions
Core Requirement 2.3:Documenting an Alternative Approach
Core Requirement 2.7.4: Documenting an Alternative Approach
Distance and Correspondence Education
Integrity and Accuracy in Institutional Representation
Step #3 – The Candidacy Committee Visit
If the Application for Membership presents a strong case for compliance for all of the applicable standards, a Candidacy Committee visit is authorized. A Candidacy Committee visits the main campus and the institution’s off-campus teaching sites. The applicant institution pays for the Committee’s visit. The Committee’s report (Report of the Candidacy Committee) is reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees at its next meeting. The Board meets in June and in December.
A description of the Board’s decision-making process can be found in the policy entitled Standing Rules: SACSCOC Board of Trustees, Executive Council, and the College Delegate Assembly.
Note: The process for separate accreditation of a unit of a SACSCOC member institution does not include a Candidacy visit. See Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution.
Step #4 – The Accreditation Committee Visit
When the SACSCOC Board of Trustees awards Candidacy status, it also authorizes an Accreditation Committee visit. Candidacy status is awarded for four years, but an Accreditation Committee must visit the institution early enough so that its report is reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees no later than 24 months after the Board has awarded Candidacy. If membership is not awarded at that time, a second Accreditation Committee will visit the institution so that its report is reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees no later than 48 months after the Board has awarded Candidacy.
In preparation for the Accreditation Committee visit, the institution completes a Compliance Certification (
Compliance Certification Document and
Templates for the Compliance Certification ). The Accreditation Committee visits the main campus and off-campus teaching sites. The Candidate institution pays for the Committee’s visit. The Committee’s report (
Report of the Accreditation Committee) will be reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees, which meets in June and in December. A description of the Board’s decision-making process can be found in the policy entitled Standing Rules: SACSCOC Board of Trustees, Executive Council, and the College Delegate Assembly. Initial accreditation is awarded for five years.