ACCSC's EWS Programmatic Certification Process

The process for EWS programmatic certification embodies the same core principles that drive ACCSC's accreditation process; they include the following:

  • Peer Review: Creating a community committed to best practices and student achievement
  • Self-Evaluation: Creating a pathway for a reflective and introspective journey of discovery
  • Continuous Improvement: Driving a commitment to continually find ways to do better on that journey
  • Quality:: Ensuring that best practices translate to student success
  • Accountability: Requiring institutions to meet best practices and to do for students what they say they will do

Guided by the EWS Programmatic Certification standards, the process of certification is self-directed, requiring self-study, evidence gathering, reflection and self-assessment to validate that the program has identified, mapped and embedded specific essential workforce skills aligned to EWS standards, and has demonstrated that it has a process to assess students' skill development.

Application Process Overview

Process Forward
Step 1
Have at least two program representatives complete onboarding via a self-paced online course in ACCSC's Online Training Center.
Step 2
Apply for Certification, indicate program(s), distinction levels sought, & competency areas to which programs align
Step 3
Use standards and course resources to demonstrate EWS alignment, gather evidence, and prepare written justifications.
Step 4
Submit materials for evaluation and feedback, which may result in certification or opportunity to rectify and resubmit.

Application Process FAQs

Applicants are eligible if they are accredited by any accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Once a school completes Step 1, the school can apply for certification (Step 2). However, when the school applies for certification, their representatives who completed the required online course in Step 1 must have done so within one year of the application date, otherwise the course must be completed again. This is to ensure not too much time passes before a school applies as the course may be updated. Once an application for certification is submitted to ACCSC, the school will have 6 months from the application date for all required materials to be submitted (Step 4).

The time to complete the process varies depending on the current state of the program relative to EWS Programmatic Certification standards. If a program has already implemented many of the best practices represented in the standards, the duration is dependent on the time it takes for the program to collect evidence and prepare the submission. A program that hasn't implemented many of the best practices represented by EWS certification standards would need to make changes before gathering evidence and preparing a submission. The time to complete the process would depend on the scope of changes necessary to align to the standards and provide evidence of alignment.

Once achieved, certification lasts for 5 years, at which point the program must renew to maintain certification.

An onboarding online course is mandatory to comprehensively orient program representatives to the process and provide training to help ensure all submitted materials will meet the standards necessary for a program to successfully complete the process.

The EWS Programmatic Certification is inherently a cross-functional effort that will require more than one representative to be involved. Moreover, onboarding at least two representatives provides built-in contingency should one program representative no longer be available to champion the effort. While at least two representatives are required, more are encouraged, especially those in top leadership, education, and career services functions.

Certificates of completion for the representatives who complete the required onboarding training must be submitted. Additionally, the Competency-Program Alignment Map must be submitted for each competency area for which certification is sought (with attached artifacts labeled as exhibits). Exhibits must provide supporting evidence that all claims made in the alignment map document are part of the final submission. Lastly, applicants must submit written responses to all questions in the EWS questionnaire (with attached artifacts labeled as exhibits), evidencing claims made in the written justification responses.

While there is no specific quantity of evidence required, the evidence provided must clearly support every claim made. Evidence should be clear, relevant, and sufficient. It is up to the institution to decide what is "sufficient".

While institutions can use CareerPrepped to help them achieve EWS Programmatic Certification, institutions may use any tools and resources they wish. Achieving EWS Programmatic Certification requires that all certification standards are met.

Once final materials are submitted for a program, an ACCSC evaluator will be assigned to the program.

Yes, program representatives will have an opportunity to ask questions during the process.

If a program submission fails to achieve certification, feedback will be provided to enable the institution to take the appropriate steps to rectify deficiencies in the submission. The program will get a second chance to rectify all issues and resubmit. If it fails a second time, it must wait another six months before reapplying and must cover 50% of normal fees to pursue certification.