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Petitions and Notifications

The new Policies and Procedures, adopted by the membership in June 2020 and effective July 2020, introduce several revisions affecting how accredited members implement changes, including these:

  1. Many changes that previously required a petition to and action by the ATS Board of Commissioners now require only a notification to and acknowledgement by Commission staff. Those notifications can be submitted any time using the Notification forms listed below, and your Commission staff liaison will typically acknowledge that notification within 30 days—much quicker than previous responses to petitions.  
  2. Changes that still require petitions to and action by the Board no longer require any fee nor any paper copies. All petitions are to be submitted online using the Petition forms listed below. The length of time between submission and Board action on most petitions is now also often briefer than before.   
  3. Requests for changes (either Notification or Petitions) no longer require any appendices. Instead, these forms typically ask for brief responses, sometimes supplemented by instructions to include links to additional documentation. The links embedded in responses should be easy to access and should not require passwords or proprietary software (e.g., links to webpages on the school’s website or links to PDF documents are preferred). The links should also not be changed during the time between submission and action.
  4. The Board has adopted the following new guidelines to supplement the new Standards of Accreditation and the new Policies and Procedures:     


Petitions

Chapter IV of the Policies and Procedures describes various substantive changes that require petitions to the Board of Commissioners. The most common types of petitions are listed below, with submission deadlines. Petitions submitted by April 1 will be acted on in June, those submitted by July 1 will be acted on in September, those submitted by September 1 will be acted on in November/December, and those submitted by November 1 will be acted on the following February. All petitions must use the appropriate form below and follow the instructions included in that form. [NOTE: If you would like to see the entire form before completing it one section at a time, please open the form and then use the “print” option, either to a printer, or if you prefer a complete electronic copy, print to “Adobe PDF.”]

The following petitions may be submitted April 1, July 1, September 1, or November 1:

The following petitions may be submitted April 1 or November 1:

Please email commissioninformationservices@ats.edu with any questions.


Notifications

Section VI.A.6 of the Policies and Procedures describes various changes that require notifications to and acknowledgement by Commission staff, not petitions to the Board of Commissioners. All of those types of notifications are listed below, combined into three separate notification forms. Notifications may be submitted anytime throughout the year, though at least 30 days prior to the anticipated change (60 days prior if adding a new degree). Your Commission staff liaison will typically email you an acknowledgement within 30 days of receipt of the notification, which means you may then implement the change. All notifications must use the appropriate form below and follow the instructions included in that form. [NOTE: If you would like to see the entire form before completing it one section at a time, please open the form and then use the “print” option, either to a printer, or if you prefer a complete electronic copy, print to “Adobe PDF.”]

 NOTES:
[1]    Adding a new degree requires a petition if it is in a new degree category (i.e., MDiv, MA, ThM, DMin, Other Professional Doctorate, or PhD) or represents a significant departure from the school’s currently approved degrees (see Policies and Procedures IV.D); otherwise, adding a new degree requires a notification to Commission staff. As noted in Policies and Procedures IV.D.1, “offering a doctoral degree in a new category may require a focused visit before approval, especially new PhD degrees (see III.D.1).” That means the approval process for a new doctoral degree could take up to nine months from the time a petition is submitted because the Board may need to meet twice: once to authorize a focused visit and again to review the report from that visit before making a final decision on approval.
[2]    Adding, closing, relocating, or expanding an additional location (formerly called an extension site) requires a petition if the location offers at least half of a degree (see Policies and Procedures IV.E). If the location involves at least one-fourth but less than one-half of a degree, a notification to Commission staff is required. If the location offers less than one-fourth of a degree, no petition or notification is required.
[3]   Offering enough courses online to constitute half or more of any degree requires a petition for comprehensive distance education approval (see Policies and Procedures IV.F). This approval is needed only once (see also Note 4).
[4]    Implementing an educational experiment requires a petition; common types of experiments include offering more than half of a PhD degree online or offering any part of a degree through competency-based education not based on courses or credits (see Policies and Procedures IV.G).
[5]    Changing the name by which a school is listed in the ATS membership directory requires a notification to Commission staff, not a petition to the Board. Changing the mailing address of an approved location (including its main campus) requires a notification as well, unless the change also involves a change in physical location of a site that offers at least half of a degree, in which case a petition is required.

Please email commissioninformationservices@ats.edu with any questions.