Accreditation Process and Timeline

Preparation for First-Time Applicants

Preparation for Museums Undergoing Reaccreditation


  • Self-Study due date is pre-assigned (March, July or Nov 1 for reaccreditation; Jan, May or Sept 15 for first-time applicants)
  • As applicable, download a preview copy of either the Accreditation Self-Study (for first-time applicants) or the Reaccreditation Self-Study as a reference for the online version
  • Complete the Self-Study online (questionnaire and attachments) via a unique link provided by Accreditation Program staff
  • After submission and payment, museum receives feedback from Accreditation Program staff and responds to requests for missing/additional information

Site Visit

  • Museum reviews names of potential peer reviewers to serve as the Visiting Committee
  • Program staff selects the 2 (sometimes 3) peer reviewers for the Visiting Committee
  • The Visiting Committee works with the museum to schedule the visit
  • Visit occurs during a pre-determined window (March 1-April 15, July 15-Aug 30 or Nov 1-Dec 15) based on the Self-Study due date
  • The visit is 1.5 – 2 days (large museums may add a 3rd day)
  • The Visiting Committee completes the site visit report
  • Program staff invoice the museum for Visiting Committee site visit expenses

Accreditation Decision

The Accreditation Commission meets 3 times a year (Feb, June and Oct). It reviews the museum’s Self-Study and site visit report during the pre-determined meeting, and makes one of the following decisions:

  • Grants accreditation (usually for 10 years)
  • Tables its decision for 1 year so specific issues can be addressed
  • Denies accreditation due to failure to meet multiple Core Standards and/or for major systemic problems
  • Defers a decision to gather additional information

A museum’s accredited status is not changed during a period in which a decision is tabled or deferred. Learn more about Accreditation Commission decisions.

A month after the Accreditation Commission’s meeting (so in March, July or Nov), the museum receives its decision letter from the Chair of the Accreditation Commission along with the site visit report. When accreditation is granted, the museum also receives an official certificate and materials to help publicize its award.

Total time for First-Time Applicants: Approximately 8 -16 months (unless tabled.)

Total time for Reaccreditation: Approximately 8-12 months (unless tabled.)

Museums undergo reaccreditation every ten years. (The Accreditation Commission, however, may designate a shorter cycle on a case-by-case basis.)

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