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 also contains 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.
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 two workshops: the Pre-Applicant Workshop and the Pre-Applicant Institutional Effectiveness Workshop (only one person from each institution is required to attend the Institutional Effectiveness Workshop). These workshops which are held over a two-day period are designed to:
- Review the procedures for attaining membership.
- Provide an understanding of the Commission and its accreditation procedures.
- Explain how to complete the application.
- Provide guidance concerning documentation with the Core Requirement and the standards addressing institutional effectiveness and planning.
Institutions may send a maximum of two persons to each of the two workshops.
The workshops are held two times each year—in April and in October—at the SACSCOC office in Decatur, Georgia. (Calendar of Workshop Dates) Registration closes one weeks before the workshop dates or when the workshops reach capacity
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.
The institution should send one registration form listing both the person(s) attending the Pre-Applicant Workshop and the person(s) attending the Pre-Applicant Institutional Effectiveness Workshop along with the fee (see Registration Forms).
Preparation and Submission of an Application for Membership
The time required to prepare a successful application may vary from several months to one or more years depending on the institution. The Application for Membership, including instructions on how to submit the application, is presented below in two formats: Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Application for Membership (Microsoft Word Format) (Updated Jan 2018)
- Application for Membership (Adobe Acrobat Format) (Updated Jan 2018)
When submitted, the application must be accompanied by 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 Form (Updated April 2018)
- Full-time Faculty (Revised June 2019)
- General Instructions for Completing the Faculty Roster Form (Updated April 2019)
The Candidacy Committee Visit and Candidacy Status
If the Application for Membership documents compliance with all of the applicable standards, a Candidacy Committee visit is authorized. The Candidacy Committee visits the main campus and the institution’s off-campus instructional sites. The applicant institution pays all expenses related to the Committee’s visit. The Report of the Candidacy Committee is reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees at its next meeting in either June or December. The Board will either grant or deny Candidacy status at that time. A description of the Board’s decision-making process is 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 or Candidacy status. See Separate Accreditation for Units of a Member Institution.
The Accreditation Committee Visit
When the SACSCOC Board of Trustees grants Candidacy status, it authorizes an Accreditation Committee visit and directs the institution to complete a Compliance Certification in preparation for the visit. (Compliance Certification Document and Templates for the Compliance Certification) The Accreditation Committee visit will be scheduled so that the Committee report can be reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees no later than 24 months after the Board has awarded Candidacy. If Membership is not granted at that time, a second Accreditation Committee will visit the institution so that its report can be reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees no later than 48 months after the Board has granted Candidacy.
The Accreditation Committee visits the main campus of the institution and off-campus instructional sites. The Candidate institution pays all expenses related to the visit. The Committee’s report (Report of the Accreditation Committee) will be reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees in either June or December. A description of the Board’s decision-making process is found in the policy entitled Standing Rules: SACSCOC Board of Trustees, Executive Council, and the College Delegate Assembly. If granted, initial accreditation is awarded for five years.