ACPE accreditation is public recognition that a professional degree program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is judged to meet established qualifications and education standards through initial and subsequent periodic evaluations. Accreditation is distinguished from licensure, which applies to individuals.
The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment of the quality of a college or school of pharmacy’s professional program and to encourage continued improvement thereof. Accreditation concerns itself with both quality assurance and quality enhancement. Those programs accredited by ACPE are published and maintained on ACPE’s website under Accredited Programs. Recognition does not imply or infer that all Doctor of Pharmacy programs are equivalent beyond meeting the expectations of the accreditation standards. Accreditation standards include both quantitative and qualitative parameters.
A professional program is evaluated on the extent to which it accomplishes its stated goals and is consistent with the concept that pharmacy is a unique, personal service profession in the health science field. In the application of these standards, literal conformity in every detail is not required beyond meeting the minimum expectations of the standards. Variations are to be expected, and superiority in certain qualities is a reality. Many college and school programs exceed the standards in one or more of the various elements comprising accreditation. In pharmacy education, as in American education generally, there is diversity, which is a potential strength. The accreditation process assures basic expectations for quality pharmacy education.
ACPE is recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) for the accreditation and preaccreditation, within the United States, of professional degree programs in pharmacy leading to the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy, including those programs offered via distance education. ACPE’s Continuing Pharmacy Education Provider Accreditation and International Services programs do not qualify for USDE recognition.
ACPE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a private, nonprofit national organization that coordinates accreditation activity in the United States. CHEA represents more than 3,000 colleges and universities and 60 national, regional and specialized accreditors.
PharmD programs accredited by ACPE are published and noted on the ACPE website.
Directory of Professional Programs of Colleges and Schools of Pharmacy
ACPE requires the programs it accredits to meet the expectations of all 25 standards of ACPE’s accreditation standards. Any standard the board finds to be partially compliant or non-compliant can be seen by clicking on the Detailed PharmD Accreditation History link for each college or school. The program has four years to bring the standard into compliance as per U.S. Department of Education. If no standard is noted, the program is in compliance with all 25 ACPE Accreditation Standards.
The following documents, Review Type, Board Action, and Accreditation Status, provide definitions for the information found under the accreditation history links of the PharmD programs listed above under Programs by Status and Programs by State.
The document, Programs Up For Review, provides the PharmD programs being reviewed in the current academic year.
The following page will provide guidance on how to establish a new program.
Accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy provides a national basis for quality assurance. For the profession, accreditation provides a means for practitioners to participate in setting of requirements for preparation to enter the profession. Accreditation also assures improvement in the professional services available to the general public since accredited programs are expected to modify their requirements to reflect advances in knowledge and practice. ACPE Standards outline required elements for accreditation. Accreditation decisions are based upon the extent to which a PharmD program meets the expectations of ACPE Standards. Guidance to Standards 2016 provide further details and outline the recommendations for meeting the required standards.
Effective January 1, 2022, version 2.0 will be utilized for all accreditation visits. AAMS will be updated during 2021 to replicate Rubric 2016 Version 2.0 for program use.
Documents, Forms and Materials
Application Process—Establishing New Programs
Self-Studies and Interim Reports
- Guidelines for Interim Reports During the Accreditation Term (see Policies and Procedures Manual, Addendum 6)
Faculty (templates are incorporated into AAMS 2.0)
IPPE/APPE (templates are incorporated into AAMS 2.0)
Enrollment (these items are incorporated into AAMS 2.0)
Frequently Asked Questions
The customary on-site review cycle is eight years; however, ACPE reserves the right to review programs for purposes of accreditation in a cycle of less than eight years.
- Changes and Trends in NAPLEX® Outcomes
- Changes and Trends in Enrollment
- On-Time Graduation Rate
- Financial Resources
- Job placement/gainful employment
- Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) scores after January 2017
- A letter will be sent to a program whose graduates obtain a percentage pass rate on the NAPLEX® lower than that represented by at least two standard deviations below the average obtained by all candidates taking that examination. This monitoring shall apply only to first-time examination candidates from ACPE-accredited programs using both calendar year and academic year data. The program must respond with steps taken to improve graduates’ performance.
- A letter will be sent to a program whose graduates obtain a Mean Scaled Score on the NAPLEX® lower than that represented by at least two standard deviations below the average obtained by all candidates taking that examination. This monitoring of NAPLEX shall apply only to first-time examination candidates from ACPE-accredited programs using both calendar year and academic year data.
- A letter will be sent to a program based on any other analysis indicating a negative trend in NAPLEX® outcomes. (e.g., branch campus analysis)
- A letter will be sent to a program having a newly identified change in the first professional year enrollment larger than 20 percent over a five year period or less. Situations in which a program is deemed to be in a period of transition between professional programs will be taken into account in a review of a program’s ability to remain in compliance with the standards, particularly those addressing curricular effectiveness
- A letter will be sent to a program based on any other analysis indicating a substantial trend affecting a program’s ability to remain in compliance with the standards, particularly those standards addressing curricular effectiveness.
- An increase in headcount enrollment of 50 percent or more within one institutional fiscal year will be reported to the Secretary of the USDE within 30 days of ACPE’s receipt of notification of such an increase, in accord with expectations established by the USDE.
What items are included in the on-time graduation rate monitoring? (See also Policies and Procedures)
- Matriculating class size for the first professional year of graduating class (e.g., for 2009-2010 graduates, entry class size in 2006-2007 for an academic four-year curriculum)
- Number of graduates of the class completing the curriculum in the specified timeframe (i.e., 3 or 4 years).
- Number of academic dismissals
- Number of withdrawals
When will a program be asked to identify the cause of any negative changes or trends in on-time graduation rates? (See also Policies and Procedures)
- The number of academic dismissals is greater than or equal to six percent of the matriculating class size.
- The number of students withdrawing from the program is greater than or equal to six percent of the matriculating class size.
- The number of students with a delayed graduation is greater than or equal to fifteen percent of the matriculating class size.
- The total attrition related to on-time graduation is greater than or equal to twenty four percent of the matriculating class size. For this purpose, attrition is the total number of students who did not graduate on time for any reason, including delayed graduation, academic dismissal, or withdrawal from the program.
When will a program be asked to identify the cause of the change in Financial Resources? (See also Policies and Procedures)
- A 10% decrease in its annual fiscal year total revenue.
- A program experiencing a net loss for two consecutive years.
- Job placement/gainful employment
What does ACPE require of programs concerning job placement/gainful employment? (See also Policies and Procedures)
This summary shall be reported as percent of graduates whose primary pursuit is: 1) employment within the profession of pharmacy; 2) employment outside the profession of pharmacy; 3) post-graduate education or residency training; or 4) other/lost to follow-up. A full accounting across these four categories (i.e., 100%) of the graduating class is expected. How and when the data are captured to prepare this summary report is at the discretion of the college or school; a brief description of the methodology used to capture the data should be included with the report.
When could a program expect further action from the Board regarding repeated annual monitoring concerns? (See also Policies and Procedures)
- Any change in the established mission or goals of the institution or college/school;
- Curricular change that represent a significant departure in either content or method of delivery, from those that were offered during the program’s previous accreditation cycle including:
• Any change in the established mission or goals of the institution or college/school;
• Curricular change that represent a significant departure in either content or method of delivery, from those that were offered during the program’s previous accreditation cycle including:
• Development of a non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy program
• Development of a joint delivery of program agreement
• Use of distance learning technologies or other unique methodologies to deliver a substantial portion of the curriculum (e.g., 25% or higher);
• A substantial change in enrollment in the professional program (defined as 20% or more in one year or cumulatively over two consecutive years);
• A substantial change in the number of clock or credit hours required for successful completion of the program;
• A significant change in the length of the program;
• The establishment of an additional geographic location at which substantial portions of the program are offered;
• A substantial change in faculty composition or size;
• Change in the legal status, governance, or ownership of the program;
• Changes in financial resources that could affect the quality of the program;
• Changes in leadership;
• Changes in organizational structure;
• Change in status with other accrediting agency; and
• Any other changes that the Dean feels require notification of ACPE
Licensing, NAPLEX and FPGEE Questions
Where can I find out information regarding licensing requirements, the NAPLEX exams and the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination?
1600 Feehanville Drive
Mount Prospect, Illinois 60056
Phone: (847) 391-4406
FAX: (847) 375-1114
E-mail: [email protected]
Questions Regarding Admissions to ACPE Accredited Programs
Questions regarding admissions criteria to ACPE accredited pharmacy programs, which program accept foreign students, which offer non-traditional programs, which require PCAT, and other specific program and admission requirement questions?
Please contact the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy at:
1400 Crystal Drive, Ste. 300
Arlington, Virginia 22202
Phone: (703) 739-2330
FAX: (703) 836-8982
E-mail: [email protected]
Per the Policies & Procedures, the following include the different classifications of Accreditation Status.
- Preaccreditation – A newly instituted Doctor of Pharmacy program of a College or School of Pharmacy maybe granted one of two preaccreditation statuses, depending upon its stage of development. In the instance of a newly founded College or School of Pharmacy, the program progresses through both statuses. The standards are the same as those employed for accredited status, however, preaccreditation involves, in large measure, planning in accord with standards and provision of reasonable assurances for a quality outcome.
- Precandidate – A new program that has no students enrolled but that meets the eligibility criteria for accreditation may be granted Precandidate accreditation status. The granting of Precandidate status indicates that a college or school’s planning for the Doctor of Pharmacy program has taken into account ACPE standards and guidelines and suggests reasonable assurances of moving to the next step, that of Candidate status. Granting of Precandidate status brings no rights or privileges of accreditation. Full public disclosure by the college or school of pharmacy of the terms and conditions of this accreditation status is required.
- Candidate – Following achievement of Precandidate status, and once students have enrolled in a new program, but the program has not had a graduating class, the program may be granted Candidate status. The granting of Candidate status denotes a developmental program that is expected to mature in accord with stated plans and within a defined time period. Reasonable assurances are expected to be provided that the program may become accredited as programmatic experiences are gained, generally, by the time the first class has graduated. Graduates of a class designated as having Candidate status have the same rights and privileges as graduates of an accredited program.
- Accreditation – The professional degree program of a college or school of pharmacy is granted accreditation if it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of ACPE that the program complies with accreditation standards, including the appropriateness of the program’s mission and goals, the adequacy of resources and organization to meet the mission and goals, outcomes which indicate that the mission and goals are being met, and the reasonable assurance of the continued compliance with standards.
- Accreditation with Probation – A professional program of a College or School of Pharmacy that has been granted accreditation and is subsequently determined to be in non-compliance with a standard or standards will be given the accreditation status of probation. Due notice of this action, indication of the area(s) of non-compliance, and the time period within which the program is expected to bring itself into compliance with standards (not to exceed two years) are given. Graduates of a program in a probationary status retain all the rights and privileges associated with an accredited program. Probation is not an adverse accreditation action.
- Administrative Warning – Assigned administratively when a program does not comply with administrative requirements for maintaining preaccreditation or accreditation. These requirements may include: (1) failure to pay ACPE any invoiced fees within the time limitation indicated on the invoice; (2) failure to submit interim reporting or annual monitoring requirements by the established deadline; (3) failure to submit the self-study no later than six weeks prior to a scheduled visit; (4) failure to schedule an on-site evaluation at or near the time established by ACPE; (5) failure to submit timely notification of a substantive change; and (6) inappropriate use of the ACPE logo.
Distance learning allows the school to go to the students, if family, work or finances make it impossible to attend a traditional, brick-and-mortar institution. The scheduling flexibility of some distance-learning programs makes them suitable for part-time students. In fact, distance learning has been popular for many years in some non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) programs developed for practicing pharmacists with baccalaureate (B.S.) degrees. Distance-learning programs that offer a Pharm.D. to entry-level students, however, are a completely new occurrence.
While distance learning has much to offer place-bound students, some educational experiences may be lost. Going away to school exposes students to life experiences that help to shape interpersonal and coping skills. Daily interaction with pharmacy faculty and peers may assist in developing values and skills for socializing students into the profession. On the other hand, practice environments are continually changing, so distance learners may actually be developing social skills for health-care settings of the future, where interactions between professionals and patients are likely to take place through distance communication as well as face to face.
Learning from a distance is not for everyone, but if you or someone you know has the interest, self-discipline and motivation to succeed in a distance-learning program in pharmacy, then contact colleges or schools with distance-learning pathways to see if one is right for you. A list of ACPE-accredited colleges and schools with distance-learning pathways is on this website.
Questions about Establishing a New PharmD Program
What documentation and information does ACPE need from an institution that wants to establish a College/School of Pharmacy?
- Completed Application for Precandidate Status *
- Completed Precandidate Threshold Documents *
- Completed Invitation to Evaluate Form *
- Application Fee
* Scroll up to the section titled Documents, Forms and Materials (click to expand the “Other Resources” section) for the listed documents.
For a complete listing of the current year’s fees, please refer to the above section titled, “Financial”.
Note: ACPE reserves the right to adjust fees should circumstances dictate.
Any program considering an application for a new college or school of pharmacy is highly encouraged to consult ACPE staff well before an initial application is submitted.
Professional Degree Program
- ACPE Self-Study Workshop: August 8-9, 2023
ACPE is offering two Self Study Workshop in the month of August
August 4-5, 2020
August 20-21, 2020
* To register, please click here.