In the mid-1980s a group of hospitality educators began to believe in the value of accreditation to assure academic quality and better serve the needs of their students. They built growing support within the academic community and moved forward with making hospitality accreditation a reality. In 1989, they established the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), which accredited hospitality administration programs at the baccalaureate level, and several years later added the Commission for Accreditation of Hospitality Management Programs (CAHM), which accredited hospitality management programs at the associate degree or equivalent level. The two Commissions were merged in 2008, choosing Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) as the official name.
The newly-organized Commission retained the ACPHA name and established the accrediting standards, which represent those generalized conditions or characteristics determined to be essential in order for program objectives to be achieved. The standards are expressed qualitatively, apply to a diversity of programs, and consider educational outcomes (outputs) as well as resources and processes (inputs). The standards cover the following nine areas:
The accreditation process requires three major efforts—a programmatic self-study, an evaluation by professional colleagues, and a review and decision by the Accreditation Commission. Through the self-study process, the Program mobilizes its various elements to reflect on the purposes and effectiveness of the Program, examines its strengths and weaknesses, and when problems or opportunities are identified, begins to work toward their solution or fulfillment. At completion and submission of the Self-Study Report, the Program is visited by a team assembled by the Executive Director. The Site Visit Team conducts a rigorous review of the Program and then prepares a site visit report, which is submitted to the Commission. Based on the Program’s Self-Study Report, the Site Visit Report, and the Program’s response to the Site Visit Report, the Commission makes a decision whether or not to grant accreditation. Accreditation is generally granted for not more than a seven-year period.
The reorganized ACPHA Commission consists of 11 Commissioners, including hospitality educators, hospitality industry representatives, and public-at-large members. The Commission meets twice a year to review, assess, and evaluate four-year and two-year hospitality programs at colleges and universities across the United States and throughout the world.