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Developing Program Information

Candidate for Accreditation Status

The first step for any new emerging orthotic and prosthetic academic program is for the program to complete a Request for Candidate Status (RCS) by completing the RCS form listed on this page.  This will trigger the NCOPE staff to grant access to the Application for Candidate Status (ACS), which is performed using the NCOPE Accreditation Management Portal (AMP).  Candidate for Accreditation is a status that indicates that the orthotic, prosthetic or pedorthic education program is progressing toward CAAHEP Accreditation. Attainment of Candidate for Accreditation status does not assure accreditation by NCOPE/CAAHEP. The purpose is to help assure that the institution develops an O&P program or Pedorthic program with adequate planning and with the necessary resources (e.g., leadership, faculty, physical plant, budget, clinical education sites) to address the CAAHEP Standards.
Candidate for Accreditation once granted is not an accreditation status and therefore students graduating under candidate would not be graduating from an accredited program and would not be accepted by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics. The purpose for the candidate program is to help assure that institutions develop O&P and pedorthic education programs with adequate planning and the necessary resources (e.g., leadership, faculty, physical plant, and budget).  This program allows developing O&P and pedorthic programs the opportunity to establish a formal and publicly recognized relationship with NCOPE.

Program Eligibility

  1. An O&P Program Director must be on staff at least six (6) months prior to the initiation of an O&P program and the admission of students to ensure a timely progression of the process.
  2. It is expected that appropriate state and institutional bodies approve the proposed curriculum before a site visit is conducted by NCOPE.
  3. Granting of Candidate for Accreditation status must occur prior to the enrollment of students in the program. 
    • The program and the institution agree to not enroll students in the applicant program until recognized by NCOPE. The program will provide evidence upon submission of its application that it fully understands that failure to comply with this condition shall result in termination of the review by NCOPE without having made a final decision. 
    • The attainment of Candidate for Accreditation status is required for the program to proceed with the CAAHEP accreditation process.

NCOPE Notification

NCOPE should be notified when an institution is considering the development of an education program. NCOPE has resources to provide guidance and assistance to ensure that the steps leading to accreditation are initiated in a timely manner. Programs seeking to initiate the Application for Candidate Status (ACS) must submit the Request for Candidacy Status form to gain access to the Accreditation Management Portal and other necessary resources.

Compile and Submit the Self-Study Using the Accreditation Management Portal (AMP)

Access to AMP is granted after notification to NCOPE is provided.  Within the AMP tool, educators/administrators will compile data and provide a narrative that delineates the program’s resources and ability to deliver a program that meets or exceeds the CAAHEP Accreditation Standards.  Additional details are provided within the NCOPE Accreditation Manual.

Undergo an Application for Candidate Status Review

  • Self-study reviewers review the Program’s Self-Study in relation to the CAAHEP Standards.
  • Self-study reviewers submit a report to NCOPE.
  • NCOPE shares the self-study reviewers report with the program.
  • An iterative process may occur if additional documentation is requested from the sponsor institution in order to thoroughly assess the self-study.

Host a Site Visit

  • NCOPE assigns site visitors after removing any parties that have a real or perceived conflict of interest with the sponsor institution.
  • Site visitors evaluate the program in relation to the CAAHEP Standards.
  • The site visitors prepares a site visit report, which is submitted to the NCOPE staff.
  • The program is given the opportunity to review the site visitor report for factual accuracy.
  • NCOPE sends a Findings Letter to the program, summarizing the documentation provided by both the self-study reviewers and site visitors.

Earn Candidate Status Upon NCOPE Board Approval

  • The NCOPE board of directors is presented the documentation provided by both sponsor institution, self-study reviewers, and site visitors for assessment.
  • The NCOPE board may petition members of the self-study review or site visit be present during the review process in order to address any questions, comments, or concerns.
  • The NCOPE board votes and a recommendation is moved forward to CAAHEP.

Initial Application

Upon successful completion of candidacy, programs may proceed with the comprehensive review process to pursue initial accreditation via the CAAHEP system.