Recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation is the first step toward membership in and accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); however, achieving Candidacy does not guarantee eventual accreditation. The status of "Candidate" indicates that an institution has achieved initial recognition and is progressing toward accreditation, but should not be confused with membership.
Accreditation is not a single event, but rather an ongoing cycle. Member schools must, according to the appropriate Commission protocol, periodically demonstrate continued alignment with NEASC Standards in order to maintain their NEASC Accreditation/Membership.
Application Instructions for NEASC Candidacy
Independent schools located in the US
Independent schools desiring Candidate status with NEASC must file the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools Application for Candidate for Accreditation. Recognition by NEASC of the institution in this category is accomplished only after a school has submitted a formal application with detailed information as to its mission, organization and structure, professional staff, curriculum, admissions policy, physical plant, and immediate and long-range plans. The school is visited by a committee representing the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools, and a report on the visit and the material supplied by the school is reviewed by the Commission to determine whether a school is granted recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation.
Upon receipt of the application, the Director of the Commission will assess a candidacy evaluation fee equal to the annual membership fee for a school with that enrollment. The school's recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation is reviewed annually by the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools. An institution may be in the category for a maximum of five years, except by special vote of the Commission.
For an independent school in the US to be considered for Pre-Candidacy in the NEASC membership process and offered the opportunity to complete and submit a Candidacy Application:
- It must be a nonpublic school that is separately incorporated under the relevant laws of the state/providence where it or its primary office is located or a member of a system of nonpublic schools in which the school leadership exercises authority over the educational program and its students’ learning. (If the school is international, explore the NEASC Commission on International Education accreditation protocol.)
- It must provide academic programs leading to a diploma, the completion of an established curriculum, a set course of studies, or coursework that contributes to another school’s or educational program’s required or elective course of studies.
- It must have completed at least one year of operation as a school or educational program with regular in-person attendance of the students with their instructors. (If the school offers instruction entirely online, explore the NEASC Online School and Program Accreditation.)
- It must enroll most of its students for a minimum of an academic year or an entire semester for semester-length programs and with therapeutic schools for the duration of the student care. (If the education is a program, explore the NEASC Educational Program Accreditation.)
- It must be at the time of determining eligibility in verifiable compliance with all local, county, state/provincial safety, health, and child protection codes and regulations. In the case of a proprietary school, it must have a governing body that establishes and maintains policy-making processes with provisions for the participation of the school’s stakeholders. One-third of the members of a proprietary school’s governing body must represent the public interest, with no contractual, employment, or personal financial interest.
- It must have sufficient operational and financial resources or the capacity to generate sufficient operational and financial resources to support and sustain its current students' continuous enrollment (Nine years of resources or capacity for a kindergarten to eighth-grade school, four years for a grade nine to twelve secondary school, etc.)
- It must abide by required state/provincial early childhood guidelines if it enrolls children under the age of three.
- It must have the interest, capacity, and potential to enter and complete a comprehensive school improvement and quality assurance process.
The above will be determined by a NEASC Commission on Independent Schools director in discussion with the head of school.
- Candidacy Application for Accreditation (download form)
The following Application for Candidate for Accreditation is intended to help the school review its readiness for accreditation and to provide background about the school for the candidacy visiting committee. It is not intended to be a full self-study and may be completed by the Head of School with whatever help that person chooses. The narrative portion of this report should not exceed ten pages.
- Small-School Candidacy Application* (download form)
The following Small-School Protocol* Candidacy Application is intended to help the school review its readiness for accreditation and to provide background about the school for the candidacy visiting committee. It is not intended to be a full self-study and may be completed by the Head of School with whatever help that person chooses. The narrative portion of this application should not exceed five pages.
*The Small-School Protocol is designed for independent schools with fewer than 50 students and limited personnel. The protocol is ideal for schools that are intentionally smaller in size becase of their mission, the kinds and needs of the studenets they serve, their curriculum and program, or the nature of their location, campus, and facilities. Based on the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools esteemed 20|20 Accreditation Process, and complete with the same Standards, Indicators, and a similar peer-review process, it is equally thorough and forward-thinking but without the unmanageable demands that can make tradtional accreditation so challenging. The scale of the process is small; the quality is NEASC.
The Candidacy Visit
Once a school has submitted its Application for Candidacy, a small committee is appointed by the Director of the Commission and is supplied with copies of the application filed by the school. The committee conducts an onsite visit, ordinarily of one day, to verify the information in the application. This committee prepares a written report (the Candidacy Report) for the school and for the NEASC Commission on Independent Schools and provides, in a separate letter, a recommendation to the Commission as to the acceptance of the school into the Candidate category. Expenses of the visiting committee are borne by the school being evaluated for Candidate Status.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
International schools located outside of the US
International schools pursuing Candidate status with NEASC must file an application with the NEASC Commission on International Education and must:
- Commit to meeting established standards.
- Commit to a process of self-evaluation, peer review, and on-going systematic improvement, utilizing NEASC-CIE’s standards.
- Be willing to host a preliminary visit to assess the school’s readiness for the self-study process leading to accreditation.
- Be able to host a visiting team appointed by NEASC so as to ensure peer review.
- Have basic guiding documents (faculty handbook, student handbook, written curriculum, employment contracts, staff evaluation procedures, governing board policies, and job descriptions).
- Upon application, and later upon request, submit an independent audit, current budget, and most recent management letter in English.
- Commit to acting within the spirits of the ideals and principles enunciated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Be willing to release faculty members and other personnel to serve on visiting teams for accreditation visits to other similar schools.
For an international school to be recognized as a Candidate for Accreditation by NEASC, it must meet the following criteria:
- Use English as a primary language of instruction and communication throughout the school.*
- Demonstrate the international nature of the school through a mission which includes creating international citizens, through demographics of the student body and staff, and through the co-curricular experiences and programs offered.
- Provide a curriculum which in content, design, implementation, and assessment reflects best practices in American and international education.
- Have several years of operating history.
- Operate outside the United States.
*NEASC expects students from our accredited schools to be able to transfer successfully to similar schools worldwide and, after high school graduation, to enter colleges and universities where English is the primary medium of instruction.
Online education academies and providers may qualify for NEASC Accreditation if they meet eligibility requirements.
National Schools with embedded international programs may apply to enter the NEASC international accreditation process if the programs are substantial, comprehensive, and leading to a school leaving certificate or diploma.
Is our school ready?
As you read these questions, consider your school’s current state and aspirations. If you can answer "Yes" to these questions, then you are probably ready to apply for accreditation. We invite you to contact us at email@example.com.
- Is the school guided by broadly accepted and understood Guiding Statements of vision, mission and shared understanding of high-quality learning?
- Is there evidence that students are learning effectively, are engaged with their learning and understand what they are learning?
- Does the school’s learning environment support and nurture the students’ personal, creative, academic, social, and emotional needs?
- Does the school provide an emotionally and physically safe, secure, accessible learning environment for its students and staff, supported by clear policies to support Child Protection and Safeguarding?
- Do healthy, ethical, respectful, trusting, and constructive relationships and interactions between and among students and adults characterize the school culture?
- Does the school equip its students with the skills, knowledge, and understandings to be successful in the next level of formal schooling and beyond?
- Are the school’s faculty, staff, leadership and governance competent, knowledgeable, and qualified in modeling and promoting the school’s Guiding Statements?
- Are the school’s faculty, staff, leadership and governance committed to ongoing improvement, self-reflection, and life-long learning? Are they aware both of strengths and areas in need of attention?
- Does the school culture encourage future-oriented dialogue, discussion, reflection, and action? Does it tolerate risk-taking and failure?
- Do the school’s resources (financial, equipment, facilities, personnel) assure its long-term viability and development?
To request an application for candidacy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Public elementary, middle, and high schools located in the US
Public schools in the US seeking Candidate status with NEASC must complete and file an Application for Candidacy with the NEASC Commission on Public Schools. Once the application has been received and reviewed, a NEASC staff liaison will contact the school to discuss next steps.
Upon receiving candidacy status, the institution must make a commitment to accreditation by conducting a Self-Reflection (formerly "Self-Study") and hosting an Accreditation Visiting Team within three years of becoming a Candidate. Earlier team visits may be scheduled at the discretion of the Commission; the principal should send this request to the Director of the Commission in writing.
"Candidate for Accreditation" is a temporary status during which time a school is preparing for an initial accreditation visit. An institution admitted to this category is entitled to make public its Candidate status in its publications, correspondence and student transcripts.
Date of Initial Accreditation
The date of a school's initial accreditation is retroactive to the last day of evaluation by the Visiting Team.
Please contact us to request an Application for Candidacy from the NEASC Commission on Public Schools.
Public high schools that wish to apply for Candidate status must:
- have completed one year of operation
- be approved by the appropriate government agency
- be tax supported
- publish and distribute a program of studies and student handbook
- prior to the candidacy visit, submit a narrative assessment of the extent to which the school meets each Standard for Accreditation, to be signed by a committee of representatives of the school, along with a statement of major strengths and needs related to adherence to the Standards, and the school’s stated mission and expectations
- host a visit from a Commission representative(s)
- pay the required candidacy application fee
Public elementary and/or middle level schools that wish to apply for Candidate status must:
- have completed at least one year of operation
- be tax supported
- complete and submit a candidacy application form to the Commission office
- host a candidacy visit from a Commission representative(s)
Public technical/career schools and centers located in the US
Public technical/career schools and centers in the US seeking Candidate status with NEASC must complete and file an Application for Candidacy with the NEASC Committee on Technical and Career Institutions (NEASC-CTCI), a subgroup of the NEASC Commission on Public Schools.
A school considering to apply for candidacy with NEASC-CTCI should first consult with Bruce Sievers, Associate Director of the Commission, at email@example.com.
The "Candidate for Accreditation" status is limited to a maximum of five years provided that the Biennial Progress Report indicates that the institution is progressing towards regional accreditation. If an institution does not achieve accreditation status within the five-year period, it will no longer be listed as a Candidate for Accreditation and must wait at least two years before applying for the same status.
An institution must first be licensed to operate in one of the six New England states and demonstrate that it meets the Commission's Eligibility Requirements. The process begins with an in-person interview with Commission staff. The length of time to candidacy depends on a number of factors, including how long the institution has been in operation and the results of its on-site evaluations. Once candidacy is achieved, an institution must progress to accreditation within five years.
To become a CTCI Candidate for Accreditation or be considered for accredited status, an institution must meet and maintain the following Eligibility Requirements:
- Have a charter and/or formal authority from an appropriate governmental agency as a freestanding institution
- Be geographically located and organizationally structured to fall within the scope of Committee activities
- Have the legal authority to confer a certificate or diploma
- Have been in operation at least one year and graduated one class prior to the date of application
- Have a governing board, whether elected or appointed, with adequate voting membership that is representative of the public interest and is without any contractual, employment or personal financial investment in the institution
- Have employed a chief administrative officer
- Have a faculty, qualified by education and experience, which is significantly involved in the development and review of educational programs
- Have a basic plan for the development of the institution
- Have formally adopted and made public its statement of mission and program goals
- Have admission policies compatible with the institution's stated mission and program objectives
To obtain a current NEASC-CTCI Candidate for Accreditation application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application fee varies according to the institution's enrollment. If the institution is accepted as a Candidate, it will pay an annual affiliation fee as set by the NEASC Board of Trustees in addition to its application for candidacy fee.