Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA)

The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation is a national accrediting agency that provides Institutional accreditation for independent English Language schools and Programmatic accreditation for English Language Programs. To know more about CEA, read the blog.

TCM Staff

30th October 2021

Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA)

Finding the most suitable place to study English isn't always easy because there are so many options out there! So, stay calm and limit your search to only accreditated schools and programs. 

The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) is a national accreditation agency established in 1999 with the purpose to achieve excellence in English language programs.

It was established by English language teaching and administration professionals, following a recommendation by a TESOL task force which comprised of appointees from TESOL, NAFSA, UCIEP, and AAIEP (now EnglishUSA). TESOL provided early support for CEA, after which CEA was incorporated as a separate and independent non-profit accreditation agency.

CEA was approved by the United States Department of Education in 2003 making it the only agency for accreditation of post-secondary English Language programs. It accredits both programs and independent English Language institutions across the United States, and internationally. 

Commission on English Language Program Accreditationsource -

Scope of CEA

To be eligible to seek CEA accreditation, it is essential that the English program or language school falls within CEA’s scope. CEA grants accreditation for the following types of programs and institutions. 

  • In the U.S., accreditation for intensive English programs directly deals with the institute/college, depending on whether it is regionally or institutionally accredited for any programs.

  • CEA also offers accreditation to other regularly offered non-credit English language teaching and learning programs within the unit that offers the IEP. Such programs and units are part of academic departments or government agencies and have received programmatic accreditation

  • English language programs outside the U.S., which meet CEA’s eligibility requirements. 

Application Eligibility Form for CEA 

To seek initial accreditation, the program or institution must submit an application form stating that it meets the eligibility criteria and minimum standards.

The following are the eligibility requirements for CEA Accreditation.

  • The educational body must have postsecondary level instruction authority from the state

  • The curriculum is designed to serve the needs of the non-native English speaking population

  • Participants can be differentiated based on the level of English language proficiency

  • The program must offer academic instructions for a minimum of 8 months of each calendar year

  • The program must have been in operation and provided instruction for all educational levels for at least one year

  • Must include intensive English Language instructions for at least 18 hours/week to meet the interests of the F-1 visa holders (U.S. applicants only)

Application form for CEA accreditationsource - adobe.stock

Process for CEA Accreditation

CEA follows a rigorous procedure to assess the English Language Programs and is based on the requirements of the United States Department of Education and quality accreditation practices.

The steps in the process are given. 

  • Application for Eligibility - A site completes the application form and submits required documents, including curricular documents, a list of faculty and staff with details related to training and experience, information about student services, and the administrative structure. The documentation is reviewed by the staff to ensure that the program can be assessed against CEA standards.

  • Workshop - The institutes that meet the eligibility requirements are invited by the CEA to attend a 2-day workshop where guidance on how to finish the self-study report and an overall view of the on-site visit and review for the accreditation decision is provided.

  • Self-study plan - After a month of the workshop, the institute has to submit a plan for the self-study. The plan comprises of a timeline for the self-study report, an assumed date for the site visit, and information about committees and members.   

  • Self-study report - The CEA self-study is a self-evaluation activity. It indicates how well the site thinks it is meeting each of the CEA standards, and at the same time recommending areas of improvement if any. CEA provides a template for the report as well as other requirements related to submission of the same.

  • Site Visit - The next step is the on-site visit which is scheduled based on the review of the self-study report. It includes interviews with administrators, faculty, and students in order to verify the contents of the self-study report. Keeping in mind the CEA standards, a site visit report is prepared by the peer reviewers and sent to the site for the response.

  • Review by the Commission- The 13 member Commission evaluates the program or unit based on its compliance with the CEA Standards. The Commission may grant 1-year or 5-year initial accreditation but in case of re-accreditation, the grant may be 1-year or for a period of 10-years. 

Commission on English Language Program Accreditation Workshopsource - stock.adobe

CEA Fees for Accreditation

CEA fees include both the direct costs of specific activities and also the operating costs involved in implementing the accreditation process.

The fee structure for seeking initial accreditation is given.

CEA Fee Applicable for Initial Accreditation - 2019



Application for Eligibility


Workshop for the first participant


Submission of the plan for the self-study


Site visit in the US


Decision Making Bodies of CEA

The Commission is responsible for the administration of CEA and for settling on accreditation choices. It is a collection of chosen and delegated individuals who work together for the improvement of CEA so that it can adhere to the changing requirements in the field of English dialect programs and institutions.

Currently, the Commission consists of 13 individuals including a Chairperson, a Chair-Elect, a treasurer, 8 other field members, and 2 public members. 

When an institution becomes accreditated by CEA, it becomes a member of the Constituent Council. The Council plays an important role in guiding the Commission to advance the standards and transform the policies and procedures. 

The vital role of the Constituent Council is to nominate individuals from accredited programs to stand for elections to serve on the Commission and also elect non-public members to the Commission. 

Meeting of the Commission on English Language Program source - stock.adobe

Benefits of CEA Accreditation

Why study at an accredited English Language Program? Well, here are some of the benefits of pursuing a degree from an accredited school. 

  • They maintain a well-documented mission that guides its activities, policies, and resource usage.

  • Their curriculum is focused on fulfilling the needs of students. They have an effective system for assessing students for initial placement in courses and for further progression. 

  • They have experienced and qualified faculty efficient in professional English Language. 

  • They have facilities and resources to provide an excellent learning environment for the students.

  • They provide a wide array of student services—on-going orientation, academic personnel, visa, immigration advising, social, recreational, and cultural activities.

  • They have formal plans to continuously review and revise their programs and services for the advancement of educational quality. 

Benefits of CEA accreditationsource - stock.adobe

CEA Accredited Programs and Institutions

CEA accredits only those programs and institutions that provide proficient English language Education and are in compliance with the minimum standards. 

CEA now accredits over 300 programs and institutions. Here is a list of some of the independent institutions and programs accredited by CEA. 

Program and Institutions accredited by CEA



CAMPUS Education Times Square


Gulf Language School


Atlanta English Institute


Institute for English Language Studies

Taylor University

Learning English for Academic Purposes (LEAP)

Weber State University

English as a Second Language Program

Los Angeles Pacific University


The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation is the organization that provides accreditation to Independent English Language institutions and programs that offer professional English Language Courses. CEA strives to attain global excellence in the field of English Language education and protect the interests of the students. 

It uses intensive procedures to assure that the programs follow the standards set by the commission. It seeks to continuously improve the quality of education of these programs by providing assistance to comply with the comprehensive standards.

You May Read: Is a communication degree more valuable than an English degree

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.What types of sites does CEA accredit?

    CEA accredits intensive English Language Programs in colleges and universities and independent English Language institutions. CEA offers both programmatic as well as institutional accreditation. 

  • 2.What do we have to do get CEA accreditation?

    The first step is to submit an application indicating your eligibility. You are then required to attend a CEA workshop and submit the plan for the self-study. Based on the self-study, a decision for the site visit is taken by the CEA Commission. After completion of the site visit, depending on whether the program is in compliance with the standards or not, the accreditation status is granted.

  • 3.How long does it take to receive CEA accreditation?

    The complete process of accreditation takes around 2 years. It also depends on when you start the self-study and the time taken by you to submit the self-study report.

  • 4.For how long is accreditation granted?

    CEA grants full accreditation status for a period of 5 years. It might also grant 1-year accreditation to programs which are deficient in some standards and later extend it to 5 years once the programs are in full compliance with the standards. 

  • 5.Is CEA recognized by the U.S. Department of Education?

    Yes, CEA was granted recognition as a national accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education on September 10, 2003. 

  • 6.Does CEA accredit programs or sites outside the United States?

    Yes, CEA accredits English Language programs and institutions outside the United States. The Standards, Policies and Procedures are the same as that for accreditation in the United States.

  • 7.How many sites are accredited by CEA?

    CEA accredits over 300 English Language Programs and sites. It meets thrice a year to make accreditation decisions.

  • 8.What is the cost of the site visit in the United States?

    A site visit in the United States will cost around $6,850.

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