U.S.Department of Education Staff Report

to the

Senior Department Official on Recognition Compliance Issues

Recommendation Page

  1. Agency: Commission on English Language Program Accreditation ( 2003 / 2011)
    (The dates provided are the date of initial listing as a recognized agency and the date of the agency’s last grant of recognition.)
  2. Action Item: Compliance Report
  3. Current Scope of Recognition: The accreditation of postsecondary, non-degree-granting English language programs and institutions in the United States.

  4. Requested Scope of Recognition: Same as above.
  5. Date of Advisory Committee Meeting: 07/30/2019
  6. Staff Recommendation: Renew the agency's recognition for three years.
  7. Issues or Problems: None

Executive Summary


The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) is a national programmatic and institutional accreditor that has been accrediting postsecondary non-degree-granting English language programs and institutions in the United States since 1999.

CEA focuses on institutions and programs that serve international students who need to improve their English language skills before beginning their studies and/or professional activities in the United States. The primary program, offered by colleges, universities and independent English language schools, is commonly called an Intensive English Program (IEP).

CEA accredits 127 programs and 170 institutions, for a total of 297 sites in the 40 states and the District of Columbia. It is the freestanding English language institutions’ participation in the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement Certification Program, that CEA cites as its federal link for purposes of the Secretary’s recognition process. It does not accredit institutions for the purpose of their seeking to participate in the Department of Education’s Higher Education Act (HEA), Title IV programs and, therefore, does not have to meet the Secretary’s separate and independent criteria.

Recognition History

The agency was first reviewed for recognition in June 2003, at which time the Secretary granted initial recognition to the agency for a period of two years. The Secretary also required CEA to provide an interim report addressing several compliance issues. At its December 2004 meeting, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) recommended to the secretary that he accept the interim report on all issues except one and grant CEA a six-month extension for good cause and require it to demonstrate full compliance with Criterion §602.16(a)(1)(iii), regarding the establishment of its requirements for faculty qualifications in its next petition for continued recognition. At the NACIQI's Spring 2005 meeting, the agency's petition for continued recognition was reviewed and the NACIQI recommended and the Secretary granted the agency continued recognition for a period of five years.

The last full review of the agency was conducted at the December 2011 National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI or the Committee) meeting. Department staff and the Committee both recommended, and the Secretary concurred, that the agency’s recognition be continued that it submit a compliance report addressing the issues identified in the staff analysis in 2013. That information was accepted. The agency was last reviewed for continued recognition at the Fall 2017 NACIQI meeting. At that time, it received continued recognition and was requested to submit a compliance report on one area of the Criteria. The agency's Compliance Report is the subject of the current staff analysis. No complaints about the agency were received this review period.


602.20 Enforcement of standards

(b) If the institution or program does not bring itself into compliance within the specified period, the agency must take immediate adverse action unless the agency, for good cause, extends the period for achieving compliance.

CEA provided a detailed narrative and its revised policies and procedures (Exhibit 2018-1 CEA Policies and Procedures Section 12 Advisory and adverse actions) along with supporting documentation outlining the agency's extension for good cause policies describing the agency`s definition of, and what would constitute good cause, including the time limits it would allow the institution to come into compliance, which satisfy the requirements of this section

CEA has notified the Department that it has not had an opportunity to apply its revised policies on good cause..


The Department did not receive any written third - party comments regarding this agency.