Find supplemental information about CASCE as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions about accreditation.
Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. In the United States, accreditation is a voluntary quality assurance process that symbolizes to the public that an institution and/or individual programs provide a quality education. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities.
In post-secondary education, there are two kinds of accreditation: Institutional and Programmatic. Institutional accreditation helps assure potential students that a college or university has met certain minimum standards in terms of administration, resources, faculty and facilities. Programmatic accreditation examines specific program(s) within an educational institution.
Gaining accreditation benefits the accredited program, its students, and the industry as a whole. Accreditation strengthens admissions recruitment efforts and enrollment growth. Prospective students can be confident in the quality of the accredited program they choose, and the industry gains a well-prepared and qualified workforce.
Most importantly, accreditation standards deliver assurance that the education and practical experience students receive from accredited programs will equip them as practitioners to keep athletes safe.
Accreditation adds value to a program and institution. CASCE accreditation is chosen by programs looking to be seen as a leader in strength and conditioning education. The high-level quality assurance of accreditation provides students (prospective, current, and graduates) the confidence in their choice of institution. And ultimately, only graduates of CASCE-accredited programs will qualify to sit for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam. This ensures that the industry is supplied with professionals who know how to safeguard their athletes from unnecessary injury, while elevating the credibility and necessity of the profession in the eyes of the public.
CASCE is a programmatic accrediting agency. This reflects a change to the current standard as the NSCA only requires Institutional accreditation. However, beginning in 2030, programmatic accreditation will be required.
All accredited programs must go through a rigorous process, including:
Academic programs will be able to apply for accreditation in 2020 and submit a programmatic self-study by October 1, 2021. It is anticipated that the first programs will be accredited during the summer of 2022.
In May 2017, the NSCA conducted a survey of strength and conditioning coaches and discovered that 87% of respondents were in favor of requiring that candidates hold a degree from an accredited strength and conditioning program prior to employment. The requirement is a concerted effort to elevate and advance the strength and conditioning profession.
Targeted to take effect beginning in 2030 – to be eligible to take the CSCS examination, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by an NSCA-approved accrediting agency. This degree will have specific requirements that focus on strength and conditioning. The current degree requirement for the CSCS exam will remain in place until December 31, 2029.
The current degree requirement is: “Candidates must hold at least a bachelor’s degree or currently be enrolled as a college senior at an accredited institution.” This means that currently, as long as the college or university is accredited, a bachelor’s degree in any field of study is acceptable. The NSCA Education and Certification Committees and the Board of Directors (in consideration of the membership and their constituencies), feel that this requirement needs to evolve to include degree requirements that are specific to the profession, to create a higher standard and ensure that future CSCS professionals have a strong foundation of strength and conditioning knowledge.
A bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by an NSCA-approved accrediting agency, in a strength and conditioning related field. This means that the degree must be related to the academic and experiential needs of the strength and conditioning profession. This change will align the CSCS with other allied healthcare professions, such as medical doctors, nurses, physical therapists and athletic trainers. Accreditation Standards will require the program to be a bachelor’s degree or higher with a concentration or equivalent titled “strength and conditioning”.
The change to the degree requirement is targeted to go into effect in 2030. There will be a structured roll-out of the accreditation process so that all colleges and universities that wish to participate will have ample time to engage in the accreditation process. This is why the extended timeline has been established. It is anticipated that the first programs will be accredited in 2022.
Until 2030, the requirements to sit for the CSCS exam will continue to be a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. If you take the CSCS exam before 2030, any bachelor’s degree will qualify.
It has not yet been determined by the Certification Committee if graduates of non-CASCE accredited programs of related professions (CAATE, CAPTE, ACOTE) will be eligible for the exam. That decision will be made closer to the 2030 deadline.