About CEA

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The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) is a specialized accrediting agency that focuses on post-secondary intensive English language programs and institutions. CEA’s purpose is to provide a systematic approach by which programs and institutions can demonstrate their compliance with accepted standards, pursue continuous improvement, and be recognized for doing so. CEA conducts accreditation activities in the U.S. and internationally.

CEA was founded in 1999 by English language teaching and administration professionals, following a recommendation by a TESOL task force comprised of appointees from TESOL, NAFSA, UCIEP, and AAIEP (now EnglishUSA).  TESOL provided early operational and financial support for CEA, after which CEA was incorporated as a separate and independent non-profit accreditation agency.

In September 2003, CEA was recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions. This recognition gave CEA the distinction of being the only specialized accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions in the U.S. In 2005, the Commission expanded its mission to include the accreditation of English language programs and schools outside the U.S. CEA experienced steady growth in the number of accredited programs and institutions thereafter, and in 2013, when federal legislation (the “Accreditation Act”) took effect requiring that all English language programs seeking to enroll non-immigrant international students be accredited by a USDE-recognized accreditor, CEA tripled in size. CEA now accredits nearly 300 programs and institutions, each listed in the CEA Directory of Accredited Sites.

CEA’s accreditation process comprises an eligibility application, workshop, self-study report, site visit, and accreditation decision. Site visits are conducted by qualified professionals from the field who are trained as peer reviewers. In addition to accreditation process activities, CEA oversees continued compliance with standards and CEA requirements, and conducts regular systematic review and revision of standards to respond to changes in the field.

CEA is governed by thirteen Commissioners, eleven from the field and two who are public members. CEA is committed to practices and values that exemplify model accrediting agencies and high-functioning non-profit agencies. The Commission actively seeks ways to enhance the accreditation process, further develop the agency's ability to meet the needs of its constituencies, and ensure site reviewer and commissioner knowledge and consistency in applying the standards and following CEA procedures. In addition, CEA engages with the profession through presentations at national conventions and local conferences and maintains close linkages with its founding organizations. Following each Commission meeting, News from CEA announces accreditation decisions and summarizes governance and other Commission initiatives.

Accredited Sites