An ACGME-accredited Sponsoring Institution interested in seeking ACGME accreditation for a program must initiate, prepare, and submit a program application. It typically takes six to 12 months to gather the necessary information and complete the program application. After the submission of the application, it may take four to 12 months for the relevant Review Committee to make an accreditation decision regarding the program’s application. This page provides additional information about the application submission and review process for program accreditation applications.

The information below is also available in a three-part course, Applying for Program Accreditation, on Learn at ACGME.

For an institution to apply for accreditation of a program, it must be accredited by the ACGME as a Sponsoring Institution. Learn more about Sponsoring Institution accreditation here.

Submission of a New Program Application

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Step 1: 

Locate and read the ACGME Program Requirements and associated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document for the specialty or subspecialty.

Each specialty and subspecialty accredited by the ACGME has its own set of Program Requirements and an associated FAQs document, if applicable. These documents are maintained in each specialty’s section of the ACGME website, along with other resources for new and existing programs, which can be located using this guide. Subspecialty Program Requirements and FAQs are located in the section for the specialty with which the subspecialty is associated. View specialties and their associated subspecialties in this table.

Step 2: 

Locate the contact information for the ACGME Review Committee staff members for the applicable specialty and/or subspecialty and keep it accessible.

The Review Committee staff members serve as the primary resource for programs as questions arise during the application process. Their contact information can be found in the respective specialty’s section of the website. This guide will help locate the Review Committee staff member contact information.

Step 3: 

Gather the information needed to prepare and complete the application.

There are three parts to the application: 1) the common application (housed in the ACGME’s Accreditation Data System (ADS)); 2) the specialty-specific application (a Word document the program must complete and upload into ADS); and 3) attachment documents (policies and sample evaluations that are uploaded into ADS). ADS is a web-based system accessed through a web browser. All information required for the program application must be entered directly or uploaded into ADS. Systematically gathering the necessary application information will allow for smooth entry of information in ADS.

This checklist includes required application documents that must be uploaded into ADS with a program application.

Specialty and subspecialty programs interested in seeking ACGME Rural Track Program (RTP) designation must provide additional information during the application process. Learn more here.

Step 4: 

Initiate the application in ADS.

Each ACGME-accredited program must be associated with an ACGME-accredited Sponsoring Institution. The DIO of the ACGME-accredited Sponsoring Institution must initiate the program application in ADS.

After the DIO initiates the application, enters basic information about the program, and identifies the program director, the program director receives an email with ADS login information.

Step 5: 

Complete and submit the application.

The program director enters and uploads all necessary application information.  The application should be reviewed for completeness, clarity, consistency, and accuracy. It is recommended that faculty members, other program directors, and program coordinators review the application as well.

After a thorough internal review, the program director completes the application in ADS; ADS forwards the application to the DIO, who is responsible for the final step in submitting the application to the ACGME. Once the DIO submits the program application in ADS, it cannot be altered or amended. The DIO, program director, and coordinator(s) will receive a submission confirmation email from ADS.

NOTE: Program coordinators cannot submit new applications.

Application Review Process

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Step 1: Review Committee team receives application in ADS.

Once the DIO submits the program application, the Review Committee staff receives and starts processing the application.

Step 2: Accreditation Site Visit conducted (if applicable).

All new specialty (residency) programs, and some subspecialty (fellowship) programs, must undergo an accreditation site visit prior to review by the applicable Review Committee. This table shows the subspecialties that do not require an accreditation site visit with an initial program application. Upon receipt of a completed program application, an accreditation site visit is scheduled for the program if one is required. It can take approximately three to six months to schedule the visit. Programs can expect to receive a request for accreditation site visit blackout dates and at least 30 days’ notice of a scheduled site visit. The visit will include a detailed review of the application and interviews with program and institutional leaders, faculty members, and residents/fellows, if applicable. After the accreditation site visit, the Accreditation Field Representative(s) who conducted the visit will submit an objective, factual Site Visit Report to the applicable Review Committee.

Step 3: Application reviewed at Review Committee meeting.

The Review Committee will review the application, along with the Site Visit Report (if applicable) for substantial compliance with the specialty/subspecialty Program Requirements at its next scheduled meeting with an open agenda. This guide will help locate the Review Committee meeting and agenda closing dates.

Step 4: Review Committee confers accreditation decision.

If the Review Committee finds the program to be in substantial compliance with the Program Requirements, it will confer a status of Initial Accreditation on the program. If the Review Committee finds the program is not in substantial compliance with the Program Requirements, it will confer a status of Accreditation Withheld and the program will need to submit a new application if it would like to continue to pursue accreditation. The program will receive an email notification through the ADS system of the accreditation status decision.

Step 5: Accreditation decision sent and Letter of Notification posted in ADS.

A Letter of Notification (LoN) will be posted in ADS after the Review Committee reviews the application. The LoN will detail the accreditation decision and any citations or Areas for Improvement issued at the time of the review. A program reapplying for accreditation within two years of receiving a status of Accreditation Withheld must address all citations as part of the application resubmission.

It can take four to 12 months following submission of an application for a program to undergo a review and receive an accreditation decision from the Review Committee. Program personnel are encouraged to discuss the timing of a review with Review Committee staff members.