We are available to help you accomplish the first step of your accreditation journey: aligning your institution's operations with best practices and COE standards.

This consulting package includes:

  • Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • Operations Manual.
  • Meeting Guidelines.
  • Survey Guidelines.
  • Sample Student and Employee Files.
  • Catalog Review.
  • Ten Zoom Training Sessions.​
Man stamping approved on a document


Accreditation is probably the most challenging and rewarding experience your institution will ever go through. The tasks to be accomplished are grouped into 4 distinctive milestones: 

Milestone 1 - Aligning with COE Standards.
Milestone 2 - Implementing Annual Evaluations.
Milestone 3 - Issuing Your First Strategic Plan.
Milestone 4 - Preparing the Accreditation Documents.​

Download our Licensed to Accredited Reference Guide for a description of the internal process your institution will go through to achieve each milestone. We are available to assist you in successfully completing them all. Each one builds the foundation for the next. No skipping! 

7 – Aligning Your Institution with COE Standards

9– What to Expect After Initial Approval


​COE Standards are published in their Handbook of Accreditations, available on COE's Manuals Page.  Accreditors usually review their standards annually. We recommend staying up-to-date with COE's publications and making any necessary adjustments to your institution's policies.

A successful accreditation process starts with aligning your school’s policies and operations with COE standards. For many institutions, this is the first time an official policy manual will be issued. Rest assured; your hard work will be well rewarded. Many sections of the Self-Study refer to your institution’s policies and procedures. Copies of policies and plans are required for many of the Exhibits. Download our COE School Guide – Policies and Procedures Manual and COE School Guide - Operations Manual.​​

10 – Download Our Free COE Reference Guides


1 - ​COE Eligibility Self-Assessment

The Council on Occupational Education Accreditation Free Reference Guides  

The Council on Occupational Education (COE) is an institutional accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education. It is ideal for career and trade schools offering diploma programs and occupational associate degrees.

This page includes an overview for new applicants organized in the following sections:

  1. COE Eligibility Self-Assessment
  2. COE Accreditation Process
  3. ​From Licensed to Accredited in 4 Milestones
  4. ​COE Standards
  5. COE Readiness Self-Assessment
  6. Completing COE Applications and Reports
  7. Preparing for COE Visits
  8. Aligning Your Institution with COE Standards
  9. What to Expect After Initial Approval
  10. Download Our Free COE Reference Guides
  11. Reference Pages and Publications
  12. COE Consulting Services  

COE Accreditation Resources


Staying in compliance after accreditation is achieved is all about keeping it going steady as you did during the initial accreditation process: conducting the meetings and surveys, preparing the reports, preparing a revised annual budget, issuing a revised strategic plan, attending The Council on Occupational Education yearly meetings and workshops, annual employee evaluations, training, class observations, annual data reporting and renewals as per all regulatory agencies. Once accreditation is achieved, you may be able to start the Title IV application for the programs that qualify. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the Title IV application process and third-party financial aid processor services in advance. Your institution may also consider applying with Homeland Security for SEVP Certification to grant International Student Visas.  ​

Besides the line items normally included in an operating budget, a category should be reflected for each school department, such as admissions, human resources, technical infrastructure, student services, financial, learning resources, academics, placement services, institutional planning, distance education, operations, and maintenance. 


Surveys are an excellent medium to collect feedback from students, graduates, employers, staff, faculty, and advisory members. Ensure your surveys include statements addressing COE's evaluation expectations. Survey reports are presented at school meetings for annual evaluation and are required as part of the Digital Exhibits. 

Recommended surveys for accredited institutions:

  • Course Survey (end of term)
  • Student Survey (end of the academic year)
  • Graduate Survey (upon graduation)
  • Employer Survey (upon student employment)
  • Employee Survey (annually)
  • Policies and Procedures Survey (annually)

Download our COE School Guide – Annual Surveys. We recommend Survey Monkey for running your school's surveys and preparing the reports for meetings. 

​There are many elements that play a role in an institution's road to accreditation status. We invite you to download our free COE Readiness Self-Assessment. It includes 39 items we see as key players for any institution to achieve and maintain accreditation. Feeling overwhelmed? No worries. This page includes tips and reference guides to assist you to achieve your goal.  


12 – COE Consulting Services


4 - ​COE Standards

This consulting package includes four modules that align with COE's accreditation process. This approach allows your institution to commit to one objective and consulting fee at a time. You may cancel our services at any time without penalties. Each module focuses on one of the Licensed to Accredited Milestones and includes ten (10) Zoom training sessions:

Module 1 - Aligning with COE Standards.
Module 2 - Implementing Annual Evaluations.
Module 3 - Issuing Your First Strategic Plan.
Module 4 - Preparing the Accreditation Documents.​​​​​

Interested in learning more? Contact us for a complimentary consultation. Clients that have already completed the COE Starter Consulting Package only contract Modules 2 through 4. 

6 - ​Completing COE Applications and Reports      



Digital Exhibits will demonstrate your institution’s compliance with COE standards. The accreditation visiting team will review each criterion narrative response in the Self-Study and its corresponding Digital Exhibit following the visit Check Sheets. Take all the time necessary to prepare your Exhibits, for the visiting team needs to see proof of compliance. Download our COE School Guide– Preparing Exhibits for a list of our recommendations.

This may be the first time your school is preparing a Strategic Plan.  This plan includes the short and long-term goals of the institution. Once the first Strategic Plan is issued, we recommend a quarterly review. We have prepared a Strategic Plan Reference Guide to help you get started. Download our COE School Guide – Preparing the Strategic Plan.

Personnel files are as important as student files. Audit all administrative and faculty files, including full-time and part-time. Elements to audit: employment applications, resume, official transcripts, licenses, copies of valid ID, job descriptions, new employee acknowledgment forms, employee orientation, faculty orientation, contact with community employers, annual performance evaluation, staff development plan, annual certificates of eight (8) hours of continuing education completion, class observations, personnel advising forms, personnel grievances. Download our COE School Guide – Employee File Documents.​


5 - ​COE Readiness Self-Assessment




We hope the information included on this page has answered your questions regarding COE eligibility and the application process. Still needing assistance? We are glad to help! Request a free consultation by calling 786-618-2277, emailing [email protected], or completing the free session request form. We are available to assist your school with the COE accreditation process.

Attending COE workshops is first in order to get your accreditation process to a good start. Even when only one full-time employee is required to attend the workshops to comply with COE standards, we recommend that the Chief Administrator, Accreditation Liaison Officer, and Director of Education attend annually. Workshops are conducted during the COE Summer Conference and the COE Annual Meeting. 


Once the onsite visit has been completed, the institution will receive an Official Visit Team Report. The institution must submit a response demonstrating how each non-compliance finding has been addressed and resolved. Accreditation status will not be granted unless all non-compliance issues have been resolved to the Council’s satisfaction. Institutions have 30 days to submit a response. We recommend reviewing COE’s Workshop Presentation regarding preparing a response to findings of non-compliance and following the instructions you will receive along with the Visit Team Report.


11 – Reference Pages and Publications



Student files should follow a standardized checklist. Create a list of students by reporting year and conduct an internal audit. Elements to audit: enrollment agreement, entrance exams, admission documentation, student orientation, transcripts, diplomas, SAP reports, leave of absence, attendance, academic evaluations, advising forms, tutoring forms, grievances, externship completion documentation, ledger cards, refund calculations, and exit interviews.   Download our COE School Guide – Graduate Student File Documents and COE School Guide – Withdraw Student File Documents.

Check Sheets are the backbone of your accreditation process. They align with COE’s Standards and provide an organized method for schools to present documentation and demonstrate compliance with each required criterion. Check Sheets are available on COE’s Applications and Forms Page. You must download the correct version for Check Sheets change every year to reflect reviews of COE’s policies and standards. Visits scheduled for 2023 will use the check sheets released in 2022. 

2 - ​COE Accreditation Process      

An annual calendar will help you stay in compliance all year long. Choose a month/week for each activity to be performed at your institution. Remember to include: deadlines with regulatory agencies, meetings, surveys, inventory reviews, reports, issuing the revised strategic plan, teacher planning days, training, annual employee performance evaluations, and class observations. Download our COE School Guide – Annual Operating Calendar.

The initial COE accreditation process can be summarized as follows:

  1. Submit a letter of intent to Seek Candidacy with COE.
  2. Attend a Candidate Academy workshop.
  3. Submit a Candidate Application.
  4. Host a Candidate Team visit.
  5. Candidacy awarded by the COE Commission.
  6. Attend the required Self-Study and Annual Report workshops.
  7. Prepare the Self-Study and Exhibits.
  8. Host a Preliminary Visit.
  9. Host the Accreditation Team.
  10. Prepare and Submit an Institutional response to the Team Report.
  11. Initial Accreditation Awarded by the Commission.

For detailed information on the accreditation process, visit COE’s Achieving Accreditation Page. You may also want to review COE’s Handbook of Accreditation, available on the COE's Manuals Page


Attend the “How to Host the Visiting Team” workshop and share the handouts with the school personnel in charge of preparing the school for the visit. Follow all instructions received from the visit coordinator and COE Staff. Team members will interview personnel and students and also contact graduates and employers. Visit COE’s Handouts Page for the latest workshop presentations.  ​

5 – Preparing for COE Visits

​The Self Study is a narrative format document that, along with the Exhibits, will demonstrate your institution's compliance with COE standards. We have prepared a reference guide that includes recommended steps for Self-Study preparation, the Self-study sections, and references. Download our COE School Guide – Preparing the Self-Study.

3 - ​From Licensed to Accredited in 4 Milestones


Conducting and properly documenting meetings is how institutions demonstrate the involvement of staff, faculty, and advisory members in all areas of your institution. It also shows how the institution's evaluation is incorporated into the school's annual operation cycle.

Recommended meetings for COE schools:


  • Institutional Advisory Committee (annually)
  • Occupational Advisory Committee (annually)
  • Financial (quarterly)
  • Academic (quarterly)
  • Strategic Planning (quarterly)​

You will use meeting minutes in many of the Exhibits to be prepared for the accreditation visit. Download our COE School Guide – Annual Meetings.

COE accreditation resources for vocational schools and colleges. Download our free eligibility and readiness assessments. Learn about the application process. 

Accreditors update their publications and applications on an ongoing basis. Schools are expected to submit applications and forms using the latest version available on COE’s website. We recommend checking The Council on Occupational Education website often to confirm the application, forms, policies, and instructions you are working with are the latest version.  

COE’s Candidate Application requires your institution’s basic information for the Commission to determine the school eligibility to start the accreditation process. Exhibits include, among others, financials, licenses, catalog, budget, and a strategic plan. This application must be submitted within twelve (12) months of attending the Candidate Academy Workshop. The Candidate Application is available for download at COE’s Applications and Forms Page.