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Petitions

Any new initiative from an accredited member school that constitutes a substantive change requires a petition to the Board of Commissioners for approval. To help schools determine what changes are considered substantive, the Board adopted in February 2014 a new set of “Guidelines Regarding Petitions for Change,” found in Appendix 3 of the Board Policy Manual. Further guidelines for various changes contemplated by member schools are these:

•    Guidelines on Certificate Programs (06/09/16)
•    Guidelines Regarding Combined Undergraduate and Graduate Programs (06/24/15)
•    Guidelines Regarding Dual and Joint Degrees Offered by Two or More Institutions (03/02/15)
•    Guidelines for Petitioning for Candidate for Accredited Member Status (03/09/16)
•    Guidelines Regarding State Authorization for Distance Education (06/09/16)

Instructions for Submitting Petitions

While Guidelines for Petitioning the Board of Commissioners covers a variety of reasons to petition the Board, listed below are the most common. These online forms require the use of Microsoft Word 2010 or later.  Petitions are to be emailed to the Director, Accreditation Services, with the completed petition saved and attached as a PDF, along with any supporting documents combined into a second, bookmarked PDF attachment. In addition, the completed petition (and any supporting documents) is to be printed and mailed to Director, Accreditation Services, ATS Commission on Accrediting, 10 Summit Park Drive, Pittsburgh, PA  15275-1110. Mailed petitions must include a check for $250 (per petition) payable to ATS Commission on Accrediting (not simply ATS)—except for three that have no fee (noted below).

Degree Program Petitions
Petition Submission Deadline
Response
Fee
Change in Degree Nomenclature (see Note 1) Anytime 2 months No Fee
New Degree (in master's degree category already approved, e.g., another professional MA) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1 3-4 months $250
New Degree (in category not already approved or for any new doctorate) April 1 or Nov. 1 4 months* $250
Revised Degree (see Note 2) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1 3-4 months $250
Distance Education Petitions
 Petition Submission Deadline
Response
Fee
Comprehensive Distance Education (for six or more online courses) April 1 or Nov. 1  4 months  $250
Experiment or Exception Petitions
Petition Submission Deadline
Response
Fee
Educational Experiment or Exception April 1 or Nov. 1 4 months $250
Extension Site Petitions
Petition Submission Deadline
Response
Fee
Opening a New Site (offering less than half a degree) Anytime  2 months  $250
Opening a New Site (offering at least half a degree, if first site to do so) April 1 or Nov. 1  4 months  $250
Opening a New Site (offering at least half a degree, not if first site to do so) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  $250
Closing an Already Approved Site (see Note 3) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  No Fee
Expanding an Already Approved Site (see Note 4) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  $250
Relocating an Already Approved Site (offering less than half a degree) Anytime  2 months  $250
Relocating an Already Approved Site (offering at least half a degree) Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  $250
Main Campus Petitions
(if changing legal name of school, contact staff)
Petition Submission Deadline
Response
Fee
Campus Closure Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  No fee
Campus Relocation Feb. 1, April 1, May 1, Oct. 1, or Nov. 1  3-4 months  $250
Change in Ownership or Governing Control (mergers, etc.) April 1 or Nov. 1  4 months  $250
       

* New doctoral programs also require a focused visit after the Board's initial consideration of the petition before final approval, so the entire approval process may take up to 12 months (i.e., two sequential Board meetings are required). The Board may excuse a school from a focused visit if the institution already offers an approved doctoral program in the same degree category.

NOTES:
[1]    Since the Board not only accredits institutions but also approves each degree program, schools must petition to change the name of an approved degree program to ensure that Commission records are accurate. 
[2]    Petitions for revised degree programs are required only if the revised program would no longer meet that degree program standard (e.g., revising a professional MA into an academic MA). Petitions are not required for reducing total credits, as long as the program still meets duration requirements (e.g., 72 semester credits for MDiv and 36 for MA). If terminating a degree (not involving closing a site), please notify staff via email.
[3]    Petitions for closing a site are required only if the site offers a complete degree. Closing a site that offers less than a complete degree requires only email notification to staff, including how students’ educational needs will be met.
[4]    Petitions for expanding an already approved extension site are required if the school is expanding the site: (1) from less than half a degree to at least half a degree or to a complete degree, or (2) from at least half a degree to a complete degree, or (3) by adding a complete new degree to a site approved for different degree(s).