Core Competencies Applied: Committee On Accreditation Of Academic Programs In Clinical Research

April 26, 2017

The first academic programs in Clinical Research were developed in the late 1990s. Those early programs were successful in providing a pipeline of new, highly qualified graduates to the clinical research enterprise. With the increasing number and complexity of clinical trials and the severe shortage of qualified new clinical research professionals, these graduates continue to be highly sought after today.

Clinical Research has thus become a recognized academic discipline, and there are more than 50 academic programs in the US and more than 50 in other parts of the world.

In 2014, the Consortium of Academic Programs in Clinical Research(CoAPCR) sponsored the formation of a Committee on Accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This Committee consisted of representatives from academic programs, professional associations, pharmaceutical companies, and clinical sites and was chaired by Stephen A. Sonstein, Director of the Clinical Research Administration Program at Eastern Michigan University. Accreditation of academic programs is a method of ensuring that (1) the curriculum provides high quality and current content in the specialty area, that (2) the faculty are appropriately qualified, and (3) that the university administration supports the program, assuring the production of highly qualified graduates.

The Accreditation Standards that were ultimately developed were based upon the Harmonized Core Competency Framework.  Each program must demonstrate that their curriculum provides learning outcomes in each of the 8 competency domains, and the 51 core competencies function as examples for the programs to design those learning outcomes.

Accreditation Standards and Guidelines were formally approved by CAAHEP in March, 2017. The Committee on Accreditation of Academic Programs in Clinical Research is now accepting applications from academic programs and will begin to formally review programs in September 2017. Interested Program Directors can review the Standards and the Self-Study Format, as well as request accreditation services through the CAAHEP website (

The Consortium of Academic Programs in Clinical Research facilitates the development of high-quality educational programs encompassing all areas of clinical research that are based in academic credit-granting institutions.

CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits over 2000 educational programs in twenty-eight (28) health science occupations.  CAAHEP is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  CAAHEP is also member of the Association of Specialized & Professional Accreditors (ASPA).