The Council of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE) established a committee to explore the feasibility of accrediting hospitality programs. Underwritten by a grant from the National Restaurant Association and funding from the Darden Group a study was conducted on the benefits of accreditation for Hospitality and Tourism Programs. The committee spent several years researching and developing the guidelines that would become the basis for establishing hospitality accreditation.

International CHRIE then recommended that two accrediting bodies be created to recognize and accredit programs at the baccalaureate level (ACPHA) and at the associate’s degree (CAHM).

In 1989 The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration™ (ACPHA) was formed and in 1994, The Commission on Accreditation for Hospitality Management™ (CAHM) was established. The two Commissions were officially merged in 2008, choosing Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) as the official name.

ACPHA Standards

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:

  1. Mission
  2. Administration and Governance
  3. Planning
  4. Curriculum
  5. Assurance of Student Learning
  6. Instructional Resources
  7. Student Support Services
  8. Physical and Learning Resources
  9. Financial Resources.

ACPHA Accreditation Process

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.

ACPHA Accreditation Recognition

In 2022, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Board of Directors reviewed the recommendation of the CHEA Committee on Recognition and voted to formally recognize ACPHA as an accreditor of hospitality administration/management programs nationally and internationally in higher education. This grant covers both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in the United States and Internationally.

The recognition means ACPHA’s processes and procedures meet the CHEA standards for quality control in accreditation agencies. Since ACPHA has met these rigorous expectations established by CHEA for Accrediting Agencies, all of the ACPHA accredited programs are now part of this quality control and thus elevated by the value of their program’s ACPHA Accreditation Status.