Standards and Notations
The nearly 250 member schools of the Commission on Accrediting of ATS have adopted accreditation standards composed of two complementary parts: the General Institutional Standards and the Educational and Degree Program Standards. These two parts reflect the nature of Commission accreditation, which is that the Commission accredits institutions and approves degree programs. The General Institutional Standards apply across the range of diverse schools, even though they may be interpreted in slightly varying ways as a function of the institutional structure and educational mission of the school. The Educational and Degree Program Standards are intended to ensure a common understanding of the academic work involved in degree programs at member schools and to provide common public meaning for a degree, regardless of which member school grants it.
The standards may also be viewed structurally as a three-tiered edifice, illustrated graphically. The General Institutional Standards form the foundation for the Educational Standard, and interpretation of the individual Degree Program Standards (which fall into four categories) depends upon an understanding of both the General Institutional Standards and the Educational Standard that come before them.
Notations are imposed when, in the judgment of the Board of Commissioners, principles contained in the accrediting standards are not being adequately translated into practice (see Commission Procedures VII.E). The current notations were developed in 2010, but the Board of Commissioners will be developing notations aligned with the newly adopted standards. Until then, the Board will continue to use the current notations in its accrediting decisions.
Notations are actions that schools are required to address within two years. Other accreditation actions taken by the Board of Commissioners include requiring focused visits or interim reports, monitoring substantive changes, imposing probation, or withdrawing accreditation (Commission Procedures VII). These actions are not sequential, since any of them may be imposed at any time that is considered appropriate by the Board of Commissioners. All of these actions are public and published as part of the Commission Membership List.
Note: For those interested in seeing how the numbering and letter systems for the pre-2012 standards compare to those adopted in 2012, please see the Guide to General Institutional Standards Renumbering and the Guide to Educational and Degree Program Standards Relettering.