The COA recognizes that special circumstances may occur that prompt a program to request a to postpone their reaffirmation review by one (1) year and temporarily shift to their accreditation timetable.
Examples of these special circumstances include:
- Recent administrative changes in the program;
- Institutional restructuring;
- Current or anticipated addition of new faculty or loss of faculty key to developing the self-study;
- Current or anticipated addition of new faculty key to developing the self-study;
- Physical relocation of the program;
- Unusual conditions requiring faculty attention;
- Natural or human-made disasters;
- Public health crises;
- Health problems of key faculty members;
- The program’s desire to synchronize the review dates of its baccalaureate and master’s social work programs; or
- Other, as described by the program.
A postponement will not be granted for the following rationales:
- Implementing a new program level / having a baccalaureate or master’s program in candidacy;
- Implementing a new program option;
- Implementing a new set of standards that has been published for three (3) or more years;
- Experiencing an extended reaffirmation process during the last review cycle (e.g., receiving a postponement, adjustment, deferral, progress reports, restoration reports, modified site visits, etc.); or
- Other, as described by accreditation staff.
The following policies guide the decision making of the accreditation staff and COA Executive Committee:
- A postponement can be granted to a single program for a maximum of one (1) year.
- Postponements are granted only once during each reaffirmation cycle (i.e., once per 8-year reaffirmation period).
- The program remains accredited during the period of postponement.
- After postponement of a review, the program’s next reaffirmation date is calculated from program’s original review date (i.e., the year in which the previous accreditation status expired). This ensures the program is reviewed on the correct cycle, accreditation status is retroactively effective, and there are no gaps in accreditation history.
- A site visit for initial accreditation of one degree-level program cannot take place at the same time as the site visit for the reaffirmation of another degree-level program.
- Programs in any stage of the candidacy process cannot request a postponement.
- These programs are eligible for one (1) agenda adjustment per section 1.2.3 in the EPAS Handbook.
- Programs granted a postponement are also eligible for one (1) agenda adjustment per section 1.2.3 in the EPAS Handbook.
Programs will not be granted more than one (1) postponement and one (1) agenda adjustment during each reaffirmation cycle (i.e., once per each 8-year reaffirmation period).
Programs with both accredited baccalaureate and master’s programs on separate review timetables may request to align the reaffirmation review dates of their baccalaureate and master’s programs so they take place at the same time. A permanent alignment may be granted to establish a single review date, as long as one program level’s delay is accompanied by the other program level’s review date being moved forward a comparable period of time.
The alignment entails a delayed review for one program level and a corollary shift forward of the other program’s review, so they meet in the middle date between the two dates. If the middle date is in between two dates, the new reaffirmation date will be the earlier of the two dates.
The following restrictions apply to program alignments:
- Programs cannot request an alignment if it will lead to a delay of more than two (2) years for one of the programs.
- Programs must either wait for their next reaffirmation cycle or move one program forward more than two (2) years.
To request a postponement, programs must complete the required Agenda Adjustment / Postponement Request Form, which documents the program’s rationale for the request. The form must be submitted via e-mail to the program's Accreditation Specialist and align with the document submission policy and formatting requirements detailed in section 1.2.11 of the EPAS Handbook. COA’s Executive Committee has final approval authority.
Deadline for Requesting a Postponement
The program may submit their request no earlier than two (2) years before their next self-study due date; and no later than two (2) months before their next self-study due date.
In extenuating / emergency circumstances only, programs may request a postponement and/or agenda adjustment after the deadline. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
When reviewing the postponement request, the Accreditation Specialist considers the program’s accreditation history, with special attention to recent COA actions and the program’s response to any concerns. The program is notified in writing of the decision. One (1) of four (4) decisions may be reached:
- Approve the request and establish, for the current review only, a new timetable for submission of materials for reaffirmation review.
- Defer a decision pending the receipt of additional information.
- Recommend that the COA order a modified site visit to make a fully informed decision regarding postponement. The program pays the cost of the visit.
- Deny the request, providing in writing the reasons for denial and avenues of redress if the program disagrees.
Postponement Appeals Procedures
Programs dissatisfied with the decision may appeal, in writing, to the chair of the COA and request a review by the COA as a whole at its next scheduled meeting. The COA decision on the appeal is final, and there is no further appeal.