Phase 2: Application and Self-Study (Steps 4–6)

The next three steps (steps 4–6) are required elements in the accreditation process.

Step 4. Application for Accreditation

Programs apply to the IHEAC for accreditation. The application is the first formal step in the accreditation process. The accreditation application requires targeted information about the program (e.g., contact information, meeting eligibility criteria, years of operation, cohorts graduated).

Step 5. Application Review

The IHEAC staff reviews all applications for completeness and provides information and technical assistance to support the applicant. Staff share a list of programs who apply for accreditation with the IHEAC Board. The program applicant and Council staff collaboratively develop a plan and timeline.

Step 6. Complete and Submit the Self-Study Report

The Self-Study Report explains in detail how the program meets each standard. Although the Pre-Accreditation Self-Assessment (in Step 3 of the pre-accreditation preparatory phase) is optional, the Self-Study Report is a mandatory component of accreditation. Programs that opt to conduct a Pre-Accreditation Self-Assessment will likely find it useful in developing their Self-Study Report.

The Self-Study is available in Weave, a secure electronic portal managed by the IHEAC. The IHEAC assigns a Weave log-in to the program director and designees. Weave provides a secure web portal, software, and electronic workspace to assist programs and agencies in assembling all materials needed for accreditation review. Weave partners with the IHEAC to provide an efficient electronic format to manage the Self-Study portion of the program accreditation process.

The Self-Study Report describes how the accreditation standards are met and includes evidence that demonstrates attainment of each standard. The Self-Study is divided into three parts:

  1. Introduction and Background

  2. Program Standard Narratives

  3. Evidence Documents

1. Self-Study Introduction and Background

This is a short background and history of your program, including programmatic information, such as the length of the program, number of years in existence, type of institution, size of the institution, size of the program, enrollment, number of students served, on-campus and off-campus student housing (if any), student support options, general curricular structure, and credential(s) that students are eligible to earn. You may also include college and university contextual information.

In this section of the Self-Study, tell your story, frame your program’s history, and highlight what you believe are the major accomplishments of your students. You will have additional space within each of the standards to provide relevant information and additional details about how you meet the accreditation standards.

As part of the introduction, programs complete Table 1 (see Appendix A).

2. Self-Study Program Standard Narratives

Weave lists all the standards, guidance, and evidence required for review. Only the program director and their team can view the working document and evidence prior to the Self-Study submission. Weave also provides a workspace for internal program communications. Only the program director and their team can view the communications about the Self-Study.

Narratives are the written portion of the Self-Study where programs explain how their program meets the standard areas and standards.

There are 10 Program Standard Areas:

Mission Student Achievement Curriculum Faculty and Staff Facility, Equipment, and Supply Administrative and Fiscal Capacity Student Services Length and Structure of Program of Study Student Complaints Program Development, Planning and Review

Across the 10 standard areas, there are 38 standards as shown in Section 3 of this guide. For each of the 38 standards, programs provide a narrative that discusses how the program meets the standard. In addition, some standards have required tables (see Appendix A) that you must complete and insert into the narrative. The narratives must also contain references to documents submitted as evidence. Programs must identify the specific location within the evidence documents by including page numbers and copying and inserting text from the document.

While there is not a word count limit on each narrative, the IHEAC welcomes concise, informative narratives. Evidence documents may be linked to multiple narratives within the Self-Study. The narrative may also include external weblinks. You must clearly label and name all evidence.

3. Self-Study Evidence Documents

Evidence refers to information that programs provide to demonstrate or illustrate how they are meeting a standard. Ideas for relevant evidence are included in Section 3 of the guide. Here is a list of examples of evidence documents that programs may include:

  • Policy Manuals

  • Admissions Materials

  • Photos (with appropriate permissions)

  • Website screen shots

  • Redacted student schedules and programs of study

  • Minutes from meetings demonstrating a policy implementation

  • Existing Annual Reports

Once your program submits the completed Self-Study Report, the IHEAC staff conducts a completeness review of the Self-Study. The IHEAC may request additional information to ensure completeness. The IHEAC staff makes all materials available to the Peer Review Team approximately ten weeks prior to the scheduled site visit. Then, they conduct an independent, individual review. Upon completion of the review and at the first Peer Reviewer meeting, reviewers may seek clarification or more information from the applicant.

Helpful Tips for the Self-Study

Get Started – You can start gathering evidence and writing narratives at any time. You do not need to wait until you have applied for accreditation to begin gathering the policies, procedures, and information about your program. Use the Pre-Accreditation Google Drive folder structure to get yourself organized.

Make a Plan – Set aside dedicated time to work on the narratives and organize evidence. Plan out at least a semester to work on the narratives. If you work with a team, divide the work and set a weekly time to check-in.

Ask for Help – If you have a question about Weave or a procedural question, reach out to IHEAC staff ( While they are not able to provide feedback on your narrative or evidence, they are able to help problem solve and offer guidance.

Last updated