Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
The provisional accreditation process begins with a thorough review of the planning, organization, and proposed content of a program that is in the advanced planning stages, but not yet operational. The provisional accreditation pathway is the only entry way for proposed new programs into the accreditation process.
The ARC-PA accredits only qualified PA programs offered by, or located within institutions chartered by and physically located within, the United States and where students are geographically located within the United States for their education.
A single institution must be clearly identified as the sponsor of the program. Sponsoring institutions applying for provisional accreditation of a new PA program must be authorized under applicable law to provide a program of post-secondary education. They must be accredited by, and in good standing with, a recognized regional accrediting agency and must be authorized by that agency to confer upon graduates of the PA program a graduate degree.
The process involves the basic steps below, as presented here in flow sheet format.
Accreditation-provisional status does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. As is true for other accredited programs, serious issues concerning the institution’s or program’s ability to demonstrate compliance with the Standards, at any point in the provisional process, may result in an adverse accreditation action. Programs that fail to achieve accreditation or have accreditation withdrawn may re-enter the provisional process at a later date.
Institutional representatives should first read the accreditation Standards and all Provisional sections of the ARC-PA web site.
To initiate the provisional accreditation process, a representative of the proposed sponsoring institution must contact Accreditation Services at the ARC-PA to verify institutional eligibility. After determining the program’s eligibility, the ARC-PA provides the program with information on the application process and timeline for consideration.
The provisional accreditation review process includes a series of three site visits prior to subsequent commission reviews and accreditation action.
Programs applying for Provisional Accreditation are not eligible to propose a distant campus as a component of the application process. The ARC-PA will not consider expansion to a distant campus until the program has held Accreditation-Continued status for five years after completing the provisional accreditation process.
Programs with the status of Accreditation-Provisional are not eligible to apply for an increase in class size until after completing the provisional accreditation process and obtaining Accreditation - Continued status, without having had an adverse accreditation action. Within the initial applications, programs applying for Accreditation-Provisional status indicate if the entering class size will remain the same for the first three cohorts, or if it will increase incrementally. The time before a program may apply for an increase in class size varies depending on whether the program did or did not increase class size incrementally during the provisional accreditation process.
The Accreditation Resources page of the web site contains important information from ARC-PA aimed at helping programs prepare for their ongoing self analysis, prepare for site visits and develop syllabi.
A fee of $1,500 is due within 30 days of placement on a commission agenda in order to confirm the placement. Fifty percent of the Provisional Application Fee is due one year prior to the meeting at which the provisional application will be reviewed with the balance due along with submission of the application materials. Accreditation fees are non-refundable. If a program withdraws from the accreditation process, it forfeits any fees paid. If a program requests to change commission agendas once it has been scheduled, it must withdraw from the accreditation process, forfeiting any fees paid, and re-enter the process from the beginning and adhere to the fee schedule in effect at the time of re-entry. (The program is responsible for site visit fees for the initial provisional visit.)
Accredited programs pay an annual accreditation fee, billed each year in December.
A copy of the current fee schedule is available on the ARC-PA web site. Programs that cancel their site visits within sixty days of their scheduled visits will be responsible for any expenses associated with the visit that have been incurred by the ARC-PA.