SACS 101


  • stands for the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges.
  • is one of six regional accrediting bodies in the US.
  • is comprised of institutions in eleven southern states and some international institutions.
  • is for institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees.
  • awards accreditation for an institution as a whole.
  • accreditation (regional) is required for all discipline-specific accreditations.
  • accreditation is required for federally-funded grants and student aid.
  • will accredit UTHSC as a Level VI campus (> 4 doctorate programs).

Focus of SACS Accreditation

As stated in the SACS Principles of Accreditation (2012;

"Accreditation by SACS Commission on Colleges signifies that the institution (1) has a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and (3) maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives."

Key Terms

Compliance Certification - Document submitted by the institution (i.e., UTHSC) that demonstrates and documents that, in the judgment of the institution, it is in compliance with each of the Core Requirements, Comprehensive Standards, and Federal Requirements.

Core Requirements - Broad foundation requirements that must be met to be an accredited institution.

Comprehensive Standards - Requirements that are more specific to the operations of the institution, representing recognized good practices in higher education, and reflecting expected processes and level of accomplishment for accredited institutions.

Federal Requirements - Federal statute mandates the SACS COC confirms documented compliance with criteria outlined in federal regulations developed by the US Department of Education.

Principles - The Principles of Accreditation are the compilation of all core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal requirements.

Requirements for SACS COC Accreditation

Phase 1 - Membership Application

  • Narrative and supporting documents demonstrating compliance with 35 of the 84 SACS requirements/principles.
  • The requirements for the Membership Application address:
    • the institution's governing structure,
    • mission of the institution,
    • presence of on-going and research based strategic planning and continuous improvement,
    • specific characteristics of each academic program offered,
    • characteristics and qualifications of the faculty,
    • learning resources,
    • academic and student support services,
    • financial resources,
    • physical resources,
    • policies and procedures of the institution,
    • characteristics and support services specific to distance education, and
    • a series of federal requirements.

Phase 2 - Compliance Certificate

  • Narrative and supporting documentation demonstrating UTHSC meet all 84 of the SACS Principles of Accreditation (i.e., requirements;
  • This phase involves a review by SACS staff members, an off-site review by a panel of peers (from SACS accredited institutions outside of the state of TN), and on on-site review by a second panel of peers.

Contact Us

For information on the overall UTHSC SACS Accreditation requirements and process, please email: For more specific information, please visit the contacts page.