Updated ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP Certifications Requirements and Accreditation
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Updated ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP Certifications Requirements and Accreditation

Nov 04, 2020

Since 2004, the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) has been working in cooperation with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) by managing the accreditation process for the Exercise Sciences and then forwarding recommendations for accreditation to CAAHEP. The largest and most influential academic program accreditor of health science academic programs. The CoAES primary role is to establish standards and guidelines for academic programs that facilitate the preparation of students seeking employment in the health, fitness, and exercise industry. A 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 programs (e.g., Physical Education, Kinesiology) with a professional preparation track designed for students seeking employment opportunities in the health, fitness, and exercise industry. The process of attaining a programmatic accreditation is voluntary for academic institutions. CAAHEP is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CAAHEP is also member of the Association of Specialized & Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

 

Programmatic accreditation from the CAAHEP has many benefits for the accredited program and its students.

  1. It facilitates admissions recruitment efforts and promotes program enrollment growth by adding value that prospective students and parents can recognize through concrete outcomes data and additional benefits provided by CoAES sponsoring organizations.
  2. CoAES–CAAHEP provides additional attestation that national standards and guidelines have been met within the program.
  3. With CAAHEP accreditation, programs also receive official endorsement from CoAES’ sponsoring organizations: American Council on Exercise, American College of Sports Medicine, American Kinesiotherapy Association, American Red Cross, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and The National Council on Strength and Fitness. This adds an extra layer of appeal that academic programs can use when appealing to prospective students and parents.
  4. Students enrolled in a CoAES accredited program are eligible to receive cost saving vouchers for certification exams for most of the respective CoAES sponsoring organizations which, in turn, generates an additional measurement of outcomes data for the accredited program.

 

Currently, the number of unaccredited Exercise Science or related programs (e.g., Physical Education, Kinesiology) exceeds the number that have achieved the voluntary accreditation. This situation creates large discrepancies in content/curriculum and/or program structure between departments. Widespread accreditation would not only ensure greater consistency between exercise science programs, it would provide a safeguard for employers and the public served by exercise science professionals.  As an outcomes-based accreditation, CAAHEP is interested in measurable outcomes and does not dictate process as is true of other accrediting bodies.  While some minor adjustments in curriculum have occurred in some institutions as a result of CAAHEP accreditation, they are meant to better prepare the Exercise Science student to enter the workforce. 

 

The ACSM Certification Board has the responsibility to assure the public that the following are met for both the ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-EP) and ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-CEP):

  1. ACSM certificants are safe and effective exercise professionals.
  2. ACSM certificants meet the minimum expectations of employers.
  3. ACSM certificants remain competent throughout their professional career.
  4. ACSM certificants retain a high level of ethical conduct throughout their professional career as defined by the ACSM Certification Code of Ethics.

For the reasons mentioned above, the ACSM Certification Board intends to update the minimum requirement for the ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP certification exams on August 15, 2027 to the following:

 

Certification

Current requirement

Future requirement

ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP)

Baccalaureate degree (or higher) in Exercise Science, or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university.

Baccalaureate degree (or higher) in Exercise Science, or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university and CAAHEP accredited program.

ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP)

Baccalaureate degree in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university and 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical experience.

 

Master’s degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university and 600 hours of hands-on clinical experience.

Baccalaureate degree in Exercise Science from a regionally accredited college or university and CAAHEP accredited program and 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical experience.

 

Master’s degree in Exercise Science from a regionally accredited college or university and CAAHEP accredited program and 600 hours of hands-on clinical experience.

 

Provisions

  1. The ACSM Certification Board may accept non-CAAHEP accreditation if an equivalence of Exercise Science and/or Exercise Physiology Standards and Guidelines is determined.
  2. The ACSM Certification Board will allow a secondary pathway to the ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP certification exams. This alternative pathway serves candidates who were not in a position to attend a CoAES accredited program but meet all other eligibility requirements.
    1. Candidates who graduated before August 15, 2027: Candidates will be required to submit their college transcripts and course descriptions to ACSM. Candidates must demonstrate equivalence to the ACSM-EP or ACSM-CEP requirements; Appendix A and B, respectively.
    2. Candidates who graduated on or after August 15, 2027: the ACSM Certification Board will provide a temporary exemption window to take the ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP from August 15, 2027 to August 14, 2029. Candidates will be required to submit their college transcripts and course descriptions to ACSM. In addition, candidates must provide an attestation from the Program Director of their college/university that indicates the candidate’s course curriculum is equivalent to the current CoAES Exercise Science or Exercise Physiology Standards and Guidelines – http://www.coaes.org/.