Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures (AP3), fourth edition


The Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures (AP3), fourth edition, is used in conjunction with the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies to guide the American Library Association (ALA) accreditation process. It is provided for use and reference by program and institutional representatives, members of the ALA Committee on Accreditation (COA, the Committee), and External Review Panelists. It should be understood that policies drive process and that procedures are steps in the process. Previous editions of this manual were published in 2003, 2006, and 2012.

This document is regularly reviewed for revision by Office for Accreditation staff. Substantive changes to process, policy or procedure are approved by COA and will be communicated through notifications on the Office for Accreditation web pages, in the Prism newsletter, and via email to program representatives. Updates that are editorial in nature will not be reported.

This fourth edition is effective immediately, with exceptions noted in individual sections. See the June 2015 release notes for AP3, fourth edition (pdf); the May 2017 update notes for AP3, fourth edition (pdf); the November 2017 update notes for AP3, fourth edition (pdf); the April 13, 2018, update notes for AP3, fourth edition (pdf); the April 27, 2018, update notes for AP3, fourth edition (pdf); and the February 1, 2019, update notes for AP3, fourth edition.

Each section below has its own table of contents with links to individual subsections in PDF format. The left navigation on this page also has links to the various sections and subsections. Also available is a PDF of the complete AP3, fourth edition.

Questions about the accreditation process as administered by the American Library Association’s Committee on Accreditation should be directed to

I. Overview of ALA accreditation

The role of accreditation, accreditation terms, Committee on Accreditation, Office for Accreditation, confidentiality and conflicts of interest, accreditation status categories and procedures, types of reviews, and program reporting requirements.

II. Guidelines for the Self-Study and comprehensive review

Purpose of the Self-Study (SS), Plan for the SS, SS format requirements, suggested evidence for meeting the Standards for Accreditation, and SS development timeline.

III. Guidelines for the External Review Panel

Role and responsibilities of External Review Panel (ERP) and ERP Chair, composition of the ERP, exit briefing, ERP report, and timeline for site visit and ERP report.

IV. Appeal Process

Introduction to appeal process, grounds for appeal, burden of proof, procedure overview, confidentiality, Appeal Review Committee (ARC), appeal process details, specifics of the ARC meeting, role of the ALA Executive Board, and appeal process timeline and deadlines.


Accreditation Process, Policies and Procedures (AP3) update notes and previous editions