Raising the bar for exercise science education

About Us


The Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences was established in April 2004 under the auspices of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

The primary role of the CoAES is to establish standards and guidelines for academic programs that facilitate the preparation of students seeking employment in the health, fitness, and exercise industry. The secondary role of the CoAES is to establish and implement a process of self-study, review, and recommendation for all programs seeking CAAHEP accreditation.

Programmatic accreditation through CAAHEP is specifically intended for Exercise Science or related departments (Physical Education, Kinesiology, etc.) with a professional preparation tract designed for students seeking employment opportunities in the health, fitness, and exercise industry.

  • Exercise Physiology

    13 Accredited Masters Programs

  • Exercise Science

    64 Accredited Bachelors Degree Programs

  • Personal Fitness Training

    5 Associates Degree Programs

  • Countries

    International Accreditations


It provides additional layers of approval to an existing exercise science program. It also makes it easier for prospective students and parents to choose the right program for them as the CoAES accreditation is outcomes based.

The Accreditation Process

Everything you need to know to get started.


To begin the process of accreditation for your program, simply complete the Request for Accreditation Services application on the CAAHEP website. Click here to go to the CAAHEP Request for Accreditation Services page, then select the profession from the drop down list that corresponds to your program (Personal Fitness Trainer, Exercise Science, or Exercise Physiology.)

This application allows the CoAES to formalize your intention and send you the complete set of self-study application materials. There is no obligation or cost associated with submitting these request forms.

The complete set of self-study application materials will be sent via email to the program director listed on the "Request for Accreditation Services" application once it is received by the CoAES.


Click the links below to download the guidelines for your program.

Personal Fitness Trainer Standards & Guidelines

Exercise Science Standards & Guidelines

Exercise Physiology Standards & Guidelines


What is Accreditation & Why is it Important?

Accreditation is an effort to assess the quality of institutions, programs and services, measuring them against agreed-upon standards and thereby assuring that they meet those standards.

In the case of post secondary education and training, there are two kinds of accreditation: institutional and programmatic (or specialized). Institutional accreditation helps to assure potential students that a school is a sound institution and has met certain minimum standards in terms of administration, resources, faculty and facilities. Programmatic (or specialized) accreditation examines specific schools or programs within an educational institution (e.g. the law school, the medical school, the nursing program).

The standards by which these programs are measured have generally been developed by the professionals involved in each discipline and are intended to reflect what a person needs to know and be able to do to function successfully within that profession.

Accreditation in the health-related disciplines also serves a very important public interest. Along with certification and licensure, accreditation is a tool intended to help assure a well-prepared and qualified workforce providing health care services.

What is CAAHEP?

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest programmatic/specialized accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits more than 2000 educational programs in twenty-one (21) health science occupations across the United State and Canada.

Prior to 1994, accreditation in most of these disciplines was a function of a Committee within the American Medical Association (AMA). When the AMA decided to turn over accreditation of these programs to another entity, CAAHEP was born. The Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) represents the profession.

How is CAAHEP structured?

CAAHEP is a broad-based membership organization. It has five categories of membership.

Categories 1, 2, and 5 are organizational memberships – this is where collaborating Committees on Accreditation (Category 2) and Sponsoring (Category 1) and Associate (Category 5) Member Organizations belong. Each of these organizational members is entitled to appoint one commissioner to represent the interests and concerns of that organization.

Category 3 members are educational program sponsors – the schools, colleges and universities that maintain accredited programs. This category is entitled to a total of 18 Commisioners. Ten of those are appointed by the two organizations representing deans at those sponsoring institutions (the National Network of Health Career Programs in Two Year Colleges, NN2 and the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, ASAHP). The other eight represent programs in other settings: hospitals, military bases, proprietary institutions and 2 year and 4 year schools not affiliated with NN2 or ASAHP.

Category 4 represents recent allied health graduates and the general public.

Representation of the public in the CAAHEP system is an acknowledgement that the society to be served by the graduates of our accredited programs has an important role to play in the decisions about accreditation.

How do we know if we are ready for CAAHEP accreditation?

Prior to applying for accreditation, one of the simplest things you can do is to review the CAAHEP Standards and Guidelines for the profession. The Standards and Guidelines are also available at the CAAHEP website.

Who are the Committees on Accreditation?

CAAHEP is the largest specialized accreditor or allied health education programs in the United States, representing twenty-one professions. The Committees on Accreditation (CoA) represent the actual profession and are CAAHEP’s experts in evaluating and working with programs. The CoAES represents Personal Fitness Training, Exercise Science, and Exercise Physiology.

What types of fees are associated with CAAHEP accreditation?

Once accredited by CAAHEP, a program will be charged an annual institutional fee (currently $550). This fee is for the institution and is NOT based on the number of CAAHEP accredited programs an institution has.

However, CAAHEP has partners in the accreditation process, the CoAs. Each of the CoAs has its own set of fees. Generally speaking there is a fee for applying for accreditation, the on-site review and an annual fee. The proposed CoAES fees for initial accreditation are $750, with an annual fee of $500 thereafter.

Additionally, institutions applying for accreditation of their programs are responsible for paying the costs associated with the on-site review, which are estimated to be between $1,500 and $2,000. Discounts may apply for programs that are currently endorsed by ACSM.

What are the benefits of CAAHEP accreditation to our program?

Since 2000, CAAHEP has been asking that question of all programs completing the accreditation process. The benefits cited most often are: marketing, outside quality assurance, maintaining curriculum currency, and an ability for graduates either to sit for certification/licensure exams or obtain employment.

How does an educational program become CAAHEP accredited?

While there are some differences among the professions within CAAHEP, all accredited programs must go through a rigorous process that has certain elements in common.

  • Application – the CAAHEP accreditation process is initiated by completing an application signed by the chief executive director or designated representative of the institution. A separate application must be completed for each CAAHEP program seeking accreditation.

  • Self-Study – the program does its own analysis of how well it measires up to the established Standards.

  • On-Site Evaluation – a team of “site visitors” travels to the institution to determine how accurately the self-study reflects the status of the program and to answer any additional questions that arise. This is a “peer review” process and often, after the formal part of the site visit is concluded, team members will share ideas for how a program can be strengthened or improved.

  • Committee Review and Recommendation – the CoAES will review the report from the site visitors and develop a recommendation concerning accreditation. If there are areas where the program fails to meet the Standards, these “deficiencies” will be identified and progress reports will be requested to assure that each program continues its efforts to fully comply with all Standards.

  • CAAHEP Board of Directors – the CAAHEP Board of Directors will then act upon the recommendations forwarded form the CoAES. The CAAHEP Board assures that due process has been met and that Standards are being applied in a consistent and equitable manner.

What is the process for a program to become accredited?

To begin the accreditation process, you must first complete a CAAHEP application. Once the application is complete, it should be fowarded to the CoAES. The CoAES will then contact your program and forward materials about accreditation fees, the self-study document and the comprehensive on-site review. To become accredited, a program must successfully complete a CAAHEP application, and an on-site review.

Once a program has successfully completed these steps, the CoAES will then forward an accreditation recommendationto the CAAHEP Board of Directors for the Board to vote on.

How often does the CAAHEP Board of Directors meet to review accreditation recommendations?

The CAAHEP Board of Directors reviews accreditation recommendations six times per year (January, March, May, July, September, and November).

How will we be notified of our accreditation status?

Immediately following the meeting of the CAAHEP Board of Directors (in which your program was presented), a letter will be sent to the President of your institution and copied to both the Dean and the Program Director indicating the outcome of the meeting. If accreditation was conferred, a CAAHEP certificate of accreditation will be included in the program director’s letter.

Does CAAHEP accreditation expire?

With the exception of initial accreditation, CAAHEP accreditation does not expire.

Initial accreditation is for 3 to 5 years (the length of time is dependant on the CoA with whom you are working). At the end of the designated timeframe, a program may be awarded continuing accreditation or its initial accreditation may be allowed to expire. Once a program has received continuing accreditation, accreditation remains in place until the CAAHEP Board of Directors votes otherwise. CAAHEP policy does currently require a comprehensive review at least once every 10 years.

The CAAHEP Board of Directors reserves the right to place a program on probation or withdraw accreditation at such time that the program no longer meets CAAHEP Standards and has been appropriately notified.

How long does the accreditation process take?

The accreditation process from application to the actual awarding of accreditation is approximately 1 year. This time period can vary based on the overall readiness of the program, the quality of the self-study document, the availability of volunteers for the on-site review, scheduled meetings of the various committees, etc.

Will we need to change the name of our program?

Neither CAAHEP nor the CoAES requires the program name to be changed.

Will we need to change the name of our department?

Neither CAAHEP or the CoAES requires the department name to be changed.

Will we need to change the name of the degrees we award to graduates of our program?

Neither CAAHEP or the CoAES requires a change to the names of the degrees your program currently awards.

Will we need to change our curriculum?

CAAHEP program accreditation is outcomes-based. Specifically, this means that outcome measures, such as graduation rate, graduate employment rate, and employer comments regarding the competencies of program graduates are a few examples of the critical measures the CoAES will be evaluating. Therefore, recommended changes to a program’s curriculum, if necessary, should be minor and will be based on the program’s ability to meet and/or exceed these outcomes measures.

Will we need to hire additional faculty?

The majority of programs applying for accreditation already meet the standards for personnel, specifically with respect to the program director, faculty and/or instructional staff. Please refer to the current Standards and Guidelines for specific requirements.

Is program accreditation through CAAHEP mandatory?

No. There is no mandatory requirement for any institution to apply for accreditation through CAAHEP. Program accreditation through CAAHEP is a voluntary process.


If your program is currently accredited, an annual report is due to the CoAES one year from the date of initial accreditation on the original letter from CAAHEP.

There are two sets of fees due annually to start and maintain accreditation. An Annual Institutional fee of $550 is due to CAAHEP each year. The invoice will be sent from CAAHEP and this fee should be paid directly to CAAHEP. In addition, an Annual Fee of $500 per accredited progam is due to the CoAES each year on July 1st. An invoice will be sent 45 days prior to the due date.

For questions about the annual report, annual fees, or to request an invoice, please email the Director of CoAES.

The Annual Report Instructions and Annual Report forms can be downloaded below:

2020 CoAES Annual Report Instructions & Forms

To find a complete list of Personal Fitness Trainer, Exercise Science, and Clinical or Applied Exercise Physiology programs that have completed the accreditation process through CoAES and are CAAHEP Accredited, please click the button below to go to the CAAHEP website.

CoAES Board

Ben C. Thompson, PhD, FACSM, ACSM-EP
Ben C. Thompson, PhD, FACSM, ACSM-EP
CoAES Chair
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Dept. of Human Performance and Sport
Brian Biagioli, EdD
Brian Biagioli, EdD
National Council on Strength & Fitness (Sponsoring Organization)
David C. Berry, Ph.D., MHA, AT, ATC, ATRIC, CKTP, GT-Certified, ROT
David C. Berry, Ph.D., MHA, AT, ATC, ATRIC, CKTP, GT-Certified, ROT
American Red Cross
(Sponsoring Organization)
Ian Montel, MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES
Ian Montel, MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES
Product Manager
National Academy of Sports Medicine (Sponsoring Organization)
Jerry Purvis, MS, RKT
Jerry Purvis, MS, RKT
American Kinesiotherapy Association (Sponsoring Organization)
Todd Galati, MA
Todd Galati, MA
American Council on Exercise
(Sponsoring Organization)
Senior Director, Standards & Practice Advancement
Francis Neric, MS, MBA
Francis Neric, MS, MBA
American College of Sport Medicine (Sponsoring Organization)
National Director of Certification
Kristen Dempsey, MS, ACSM-RCEP
Kristen Dempsey, MS, ACSM-RCEP
Practitioner Member
Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Newton-Wellesley Hospital
Gregory Ferenchak, PHD, EdD, RT (R)(QM)
Gregory Ferenchak, PHD, EdD, RT (R)(QM)
Non voting/CAAHEP/CoAES Liaison
Dean, Health Occupations
Paris Junior College
Carol Cole, MS, ACSM HFD
Carol Cole, MS, ACSM HFD
At-Large Member
Sinclair Community College
Exercise, Nutrition & Sport Sciences
Susan Muller, PhD, MCHES, CEP
Susan Muller, PhD, MCHES, CEP
At-Large member
Salisbury University
School of Health Sciences
Walter R. Thompson PhD, FACSM
Walter R. Thompson PhD, FACSM
At-Large Member
ACSM Fellow
Georgia State University
Dept of Kinesiology & Health
William Coale
William Coale
Director of CoAES

Get in touch

You can contact the CoAES Program Coordinator with any questions you have about the accreditation process.

Our Sponsors

Presently, CoAES participating organizations include the following: