Important Information about Accreditation

Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is the national agency for the accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy. Accreditation is the public recognition accorded a professional program in pharmacy that is judged to meet established qualifications and educational standards through initial and subsequent periodic evaluations. It applies to degree programs and is to be distinguished from certification or licensure, which applies to individuals.

The values of accreditation are several and the ACPE accreditation process serves concurrently several constituencies including the general public, students and prospective students, licensing bodies, pharmacy degree programs and their parent institutions, providers of continuing pharmaceutical education including certificate programs in pharmacy, and the profession. Graduates of accredited professional programs in pharmacy should be educationally prepared for practice and should satisfy educational requirements for licensure. However, decisions concerning eligibility for licensure reside with the respective licensing bodies in accordance with their state statutes and administrative rules and regulations.

AACP and PharmCAS are not involved in the pharmacy degree program accreditation process or regional accreditation nor can guarantee the quality of a particular program. A pharmacy degree program is eligible to participate in PharmCAS provided they are a member institution (at any level) of AACP. Graduate programs that are recognized by the appropriate regional accrediting body and Pharm.D. programs recognized by ACPE with pre-candidate, candidate, or fully accredited status are eligible to participate in PharmCAS. The accreditation status for each Pharm.D. program is available on the school page within the PharmCAS School Directory. The School Directory provides a list of the accreditation levels of all Pharm.D. programs.

If you apply to a program with no ACPE status, you will be required to apply to at least one additional program with accreditation status before you can submit your application.

“Full” Accreditation: The professional program of a pharmacy degree programs is granted initial or continued accreditation if it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the ACPE that the program complies with accreditation standards and guidelines, including the appropriateness of program mission, the adequacy of resources and organization to meet its mission, the demonstration of educational outcomes which indicate that the mission is being met, and the reasonable assurance of the continued meeting of its mission. The customary on-site review cycle for purposes of continued accreditation is six years. However, programs may be reviewed in less than or greater than six years, at the discretion of the Council. Such early reviews may be based either upon an onsite evaluation or a written report from the institution. Institutional representatives may exercise the option of personally presenting such reports to the Council. Program monitoring during the accreditation period includes annual reviews, requested reports and/or review of specific information, special on-site evaluations, or staff visits.

In the event that evaluation presents program concerns of such character so as to impact upon prospects for continued compliance with a standard or standards and/or may result in non-compliance with a standard or standards if not adequately addressed, the chief executive officer of the institution and the dean of the college or school of pharmacy are given a period of time, generally not more than one year, to demonstrate that the program is and will continue in compliance. This notification is designated as Cautionary Notice. If the response is inadequate and the program is found to be in non-compliance with a standard or standards, the program will be placed in a probationary status.

A newly instituted professional program of a pharmacy degree program may be granted one of two pre-accreditation statuses, pre-candidate or candidate, depending upon its stage of development. In the instance of a newly founded pharmacy degree programs, the programs generally progress through both statuses.

Pre-candidate: A new program that has no students enrolled, but has a dean, may be granted pre-candidate accreditation status. This indicates that the degree program’s planning for the professional program(s) has taken into account ACPE standards and suggests reasonable assurances of moving to the next step, that of candidate status. Full public disclosure by the degree program of the terms and conditions of pre-candidate status is required.

Candidate: A new program that has students enrolled but has not had a graduating class may be granted candidate status. The granting of candidate status denotes a developmental program, which has taken into account ACPE accreditation standards and is expected to mature in accord with stated plans within a defined time period. Reasonable assurances exist that the program will become accredited as programmatic experience is gained, generally, by the time the first class has been graduated. Graduates of a class designated as having candidate status have the same rights and privileges as graduates of a program that has accreditation status.

The accreditation status of probation is given to a pharmacy degree program that has been accredited and is subsequently determined to be in noncompliance with a standard or standards. Graduates of a program that has been placed in a probationary status retain all rights and privileges associated with accreditation status. A program in probationary status reflects a diminished status and presents serious concern. Adverse action, defined as withdrawal or denial of an accreditation status, will be taken if a degree program fails to bring the program into compliance within the time period specified by the Council; such time period shall not exceed two years and may be extended only for good cause.

When ACPE determines that a professional program of a college or degree program of pharmacy fails to comply with standards and that identified deficiencies have not been satisfactorily addressed, initial accreditation or pre-accreditation may be denied, or the existing accreditation status may be withdrawn. Withdrawal of accreditation will generally, but not necessarily, occur after cautionary notice and/or a period of probation. In the event of denial or withdrawal of accreditation or pre-accreditation status, institutions may initiate a formal appeal in accord with published procedures, which include the right of the institution and ACPE to be represented by counsel.

Graduate Programs in the pharmaceutical sciences are covered through the regional accreditation of the university where the graduate program resides. The directory of regional accrediting bodies can be found on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website.

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