Application ProcessS

NIPSA offers candidacy to two types of schools: schools that are only academic and those that are therapeutic academic schools. The latter type of school must apply for both academic accreditation and therapeutic certification.

To become a candidate school:

  1. Request a candidacy packet and application from the National Office. You may download the membership packet in pdf format here.
  2. Return the application and $350 non-refundable application fee (the application fee for therapeutic schools is $650.00). Include any visual materials, photos, video, brochures, etc. to give a description of the school.
  3. An informal site visit may take place.
  4. The school is presented to the Board of Directors as a candidate school.
  5. Upon acceptance submit the membership fees.

After becoming a candidate school, the school may begin the process of becoming an accredited member.


Any proprietary school or legal entity that is of good character and dedicated to the purposes of the corporation may apply for accreditation by the corporation within three years of its acceptance into candidacy. Any individual or entity owning more than one proprietary school shall nevertheless be entitled to only one membership in the corporation.
A proprietary school seeking candidacy shall have the following characteristics:
• Be a privately owned, tax-paying proprietary school
• Have a written anti-discrimination policy communicated to the public
• Be an academic school consisting of any grades PK-12 whose educational program is consistent with the standards set forth for accreditation
• Abide by the compulsory attendance laws of the state in which the school operates.
• Shall at all times adhere to the goals, articles, bylaws, rules, and regulations of this corporation


There are two categories of membership. These categories are Candidate School and Accredited Member:

Schoolchildren and their teacher reading in primary class


A Candidate School is a status that indicates an institution has achieved initial recognition by the association and is committed to seeking accreditation and certification, if appropriate. Candidacy is a prerequisite for becoming an Accredited Member and has a maximum term of three years. At the discretion of the Board of Directors, terms may be extended for unusual and exceptional circumstances. Requirements of the Candidate School status are:
• The school must be in operation under current ownership for a minimum period of two years.
• The school must submit written application which includes, among other things, grade span of school, student population summary, tuition schedule, and philosophy and goals or aims of the school. One copy of the school brochure or catalog and report card of pupil progress are to be appended.
• The school must meet the association’s standards for participation.
• The school must conduct and submit a self-study of the total school program within three years of its acceptance into the association.
• A school begins the academic accreditation process by filing an Eligibility Checklist and Letter of Intent with the corporation. There is no accreditation fee or fee for additional sites, the school is responsible to pay for the expenses of the visiting committee that conducts the required site visit. The academic accreditation cycle is seven (7) years.
• Schools applying for therapeutic certification must also file a letter of Intent and Eligibility Checklist. The certification fee is from $975.00 to $1750.00 depending upon level. There is no charge for additional sites. Therapeutic schools are certified for a period of five (5) years. Levels of certification are:
    -Level I Emotional Growth Schools: counseling and guidance provided as part of the program. Treatment or therapy are not offered on a regular basis, but might be available on an as-needed basis. Therapists may be on staff or outside referrals.
    -Level II Counseling Available Schools: Clinicians are provided for students in need of counseling or therapy. Clinicians provide services on a regular basis at the school.
    -Level III Therapeutic Schools: Regular therapy is part of the ongoing program and a requirement for ALL of the students in the school.
    -Level IV Acute Therapeutic Schools: designed for students with serious psychiatric problems. Regular ongoing intensive treatment is provided. There are multiple therapeutic sessions daily, and there is a psychiatrist on staff.

• During the pre-accreditation phase the school must conduct a self-study under NIPSA supervision. The self-study will address all phases of the school operation and will involve all segments of the school community.

The self-study will include:
• Philosophy and goals
• Organization and leadership
• Curriculum
• Instruction and learning
• Pupil Services and student activities
• School staff
• Parent community
• School plant
• Finances
• A completed school improvement plan (SIP)
• Dormitories and dormitory life (In the case of boarding schools)
• Early Childhood Program (For those schools in this category)
• Special Needs School (But not therapeutic – when applicable)
• Therapeutic Certification (Where applicable)


An Accredited Member is a status of membership that indicates the school is substantially accomplishing its stated goals and objectives and has given evidence that it is committed to continued growth and the pursuit of excellence. Only an Accredited Member may sit on the Board of Directors. Requirements of the Accredited Membership status are:

• The school must currently be in good standing (including payment of all dues and student assessment fees).

• A visiting committee will have performed a site visit to verify the self-study and will recommended accreditation to the Board of Directors that comprises the accrediting committee.

• The Board of Directors will have approved the recommendations and commendations of the visiting committee.

• Accredited Members shall file a yearly report; shall report any significant changes in management, location or leadership personnel; and shall report on the status of recommendations made by the visiting committee during the third year after accreditation is granted.

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