The benchmark model is a systematic, incremental approach to developing a social work program and writing a comprehensive self-study. There are three benchmarks; the first portion of each benchmark consists of specific accreditation standards that must be approved by the Commission on Accreditation (COA) to proceed to the next benchmark, and the second portion consists of standards that must be addressed in draft form. 

Program development is guided by three visits from the COA commissioners. During the commissioner visits 1 and 2, the commissioner makes a recommendation as to whether to approve the program’s standards in the first portion of the benchmark and provides consultation on the standards in the second portion. During commissioner visit 3, the commissioner makes recommendations as to whether the program is in compliance with the EPAS.

Programs progress through several stages of program development: applying for candidacy status, completing candidacy, and receiving initial accreditation status. There are several products, timetables, forms, and accreditation fees associated with each stage, which can be found on the CSWE website.

More information on the candidacy process can be found in section 3 of the EPAS Handbook.