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Medical College of Wisconsin Pharmacy School Accreditation

The MCW School of Pharmacy’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program has been granted full Accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). The ACPE is the national agency for accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy and providers of continuing pharmacy education. Upon receiving full Accreditation status, MCW School of Pharmacy’s has demonstrated, to the satisfaction of ACPE, that its PharmD program complies with stringent accreditation standards and has graduated its first class of students in May 2020. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for pharmacist licensure examinations upon successful completion of the PharmD program.

“The achievement of full accreditation is a testament to the outstanding effort and dedication of our students, faculty and staff,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, president and CEO of MCW, who envisioned the creation of the School of Pharmacy in 2014. “Our PharmD graduates will continue to transform healthcare within the state of Wisconsin and beyond through the continuum of discovery and the advancement of innovative pharmacy practice and patient care models to achieve better health.”

ACPE-MCW Community Connection

Our goal is to educate the community of faculty, staff, students, partners, and friends of MCW about the ACPE accreditation process that is currently underway.
What is ACPE?
The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) for the accreditation and pre-accreditation, within the United States, of professional degree programs in pharmacy leading to the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy, including those programs offered via distance education. ACPE’s Continuing Pharmacy Education Provider Accreditation and International Services programs do not qualify for USDE recognition.
What  is the purpose of ACPE accreditation?
The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment of the quality of a college or school of pharmacy’s professional program and to encourage continued improvement thereof. Accreditation concerns itself with both quality assurance and quality enhancement. Those programs accredited by ACPE are published and maintained on ACPE’s website under Accredited Programs. Recognition does not imply or infer that all Doctor of Pharmacy programs are equivalent beyond meeting the expectations of the 25 accreditation standards. Accreditation standards include both quantitative and qualitative parameters.
Why is attaining ACPE accreditation critical to a pharmacy school?
Only students who graduate from an ACPE-accredited Doctor of Pharmacy program are eligible to sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). Graduates must pass this examination, along with the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) to practice pharmacy in the United States.
Does ACPE accreditation apply to all MCW campus locations?
Currently, the School of Pharmacy is authorized to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy degree on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus. The School of Pharmacy must notify ACPE if it intends to offer its pharmacy program to students at a remote location, and follow the accreditation process for pharmacy programs with multi-campus locations.
Does MCW hold other accreditations?
MCW is accredited as an institution of higher learning by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)-North Central Commission, a regional accrediting agency. An institution like MCW must first hold HLC accreditation before it can receive any level of ACPE accreditation for its PharmD program. MCW’s Pharmacy School, Medical School, Graduate School and any future degree granting programs or schools that may be undertaken are encompassed institutionally under HLC accreditation and are subject to the standards set forth by the HLC for all institutions of higher learning.
Are there different levels of ACPE accreditation?

Yes, there are three levels of accreditation, Pre-accreditation, Accreditation, and Accreditation with Probation.

Pre-accreditation – A newly instituted Doctor of Pharmacy program of a College or School of Pharmacy may be granted one of two pre-accreditation statuses, depending upon its stage of development. In the instance of a newly founded College or School of Pharmacy, the program progresses through both statuses. The standards are the same as those employed for accredited status, however, pre-accreditation involves, in large measure, planning in accord with standards and provision of reasonable assurances for a quality outcome.

  • Precandidate – A new program that has no students enrolled but that meets the eligibility criteria for accreditation may be granted Precandidate accreditation status. The granting of Precandidate status indicates that a college or school’s planning for the Doctor of Pharmacy program has taken into account ACPE standards and guidelines and suggests reasonable assurances of moving to the next step, that of Candidate status. Granting of Precandidate status brings no rights or privileges of accreditation.  Full public disclosure by the college or school of pharmacy of the terms and conditions of this accreditation status is required.
  • Candidate – Following achievement of Precandidate status, and once students have enrolled in a new program, but the program has not had a graduating class, the program may be granted Candidate status. The granting of Candidate status denotes a developmental program that is expected to mature in accord with stated plans and within a defined time period. Reasonable assurances are expected to be provided that the program may become accredited as programmatic experiences are gained, generally, by the time the first class has graduated. Graduates of a class designated as having Candidate status have the same rights and privileges as graduates of an accredited program.

Accreditation – The professional degree program of a college or school of pharmacy is granted accreditation if it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of ACPE that the program complies with accreditation standards, including the appropriateness of the program’s mission and goals, the adequacy of resources and organization to meet the mission and goals, outcomes which indicate that the mission and goals are being met, and the reasonable assurance of the continued compliance with standards.

Accreditation with Probation – A professional program of a College or School of Pharmacy that has been granted accreditation and is subsequently determined to be in non-compliance with a standard or standards will be given the accreditation status of probation. Due notice of this action, indication of the area(s) of non-compliance, and the time period within which the program is expected to bring itself into compliance with standards (not to exceed two years) are given. Graduates of a program in a probationary status retain all the rights and privileges associated with an accredited program. Probation is not an adverse accreditation action.

Who makes ACPE accreditation decisions?
Accreditation decisions are made by the ACPE Board of Directors at one of their semi-annual meetings in January and June. Normally, accreditation decisions for programs whose site visit occurred between June and December are made at the January meeting, and accreditation decisions for programs whose visit occurred between January and May are made at the June meeting.

ACPE is an autonomous and independent agency whose Board of Directors is derived through the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), and the American Council on Education (ACE).
How are ACPE accreditation decisions made?
The ACPE Board makes the accreditation decisions based upon the recommendation of the accreditation team that conducted the site visit. This recommendation comes in the form of an Evaluation Team Report (ETR) that summarizes, based upon the findings of the visiting team, the degree to which the pharmacy program met or exceeded each of the 25 Standards. Typically, a member of the Board of Directors serves on the site visit team, and that person, along with the ACPE Staff Liaison present the results of the accreditation visit during one of the Board of Directors meetings.

The Board of Directors then makes their general accreditation decision and issues an Accreditation Actions and Recommendations Report (AAR), which specifies the final assessment for each standard, identify areas to be monitored, and the tentative window of time for the next accreditation site visit.
What types of accreditation decisions does the ACPE make?

Beyond decisions concerning the three levels of accreditation, the ACPE Board may also take the following actions:

  • Affirmed: An action to “affirm” implies that a previously established accreditation term has been confirmed.
  • Continued: An action to “continue” implies that the accreditation term has been extended.
  • Probation: A professional degree program of a college or school of pharmacy that has been granted accreditation and is found to be in non-compliance with a standard or standards may be placed on probation as described in ACPE Policies and Procedures 9.1 and 9.2.
Why is ACPE compliance an ongoing institutional priority?

The ACPE accreditation process and subsequent compliance benefits all constituents, not just institutions:

To the Boards of Pharmacy, accreditation provides a reliable basis for decision-making with regard to licensure either by examination or reciprocity.

To the public, the values of accreditation include:

  • an assurance of external evaluation of the program and a finding that there is conformity to general expectations of the profession;
  • identification of programs that have undertaken explicit activities directed at improving the quality of the institution and its professional programs and that are carrying them out successfully; and
  • an improvement in the professional services available to the public as accredited programs modify their requirements to reflect changes in knowledge, skills attitudes, abilities and practice.

To students and prospective students, accreditation provides:

  • an assurance that the educational activities of an accredited program have been found to be satisfactory and, therefore, meet the needs of the students;
  • assistance in the transfer of credits; and
  • eligibility for entering the profession by satisfying educational requirements for licensure.

Institutions benefit from accreditation through:

  • the stimulus provided for self-evaluation and self-directed program improvement;
  • the strengthening of program self-evaluation through the knowledge of a subsequent review or audit and counsel by the evaluation team;
  • the enhancement of the reputation of the program because of public regard for accreditation; and
  • the use of accreditation in decision-making for the investment of public and private funds.

And finally, accreditation serves the profession of pharmacy by:

  • providing a means for practitioners to participate in setting entry requirements for the profession; and
  • giving assurances that those practitioners who follow them will be adequately prepared.
How long does it take to prepare for the full ACPE accreditation site visit?

Preparation for an ACPE Precandidate, Candidate, and Full Accreditation site visit is normally a nine-month process. The timeline for the upcoming accreditation visit starts after receipt of the Board of Director’s prior accreditation decision and the determination of the next accreditation site visit date. The site visit for the MCW School of Pharmacy normally occurs in the months of April or May.

Nine to Five Months Prior to ACPE Visit:

The Assistant Dean for Curriculum convenes the Self-Study Committee, typically comprised of the School of Pharmacy Governance Committee Chairs (Academic Standing, Admission, Assessment, and Curriculum) and staff from the Office of Academic & Student Affairs. During this meeting, the committee creates a timetable that identifies and assigns work groups for each of the 25 ACPE Standards, the Committee Liaison for each work group, and the deadline by which the work group must complete its initial draft. The Committee also discusses any special monitoring requirements identified in the Accreditation Action and Recommendations report that must be addressed.

After the work group assignments have been made and announced, the Committee Liaison meets with their respective work groups to provide general guidance about the process and answer any preliminary questions. After that, the Committee Liaison is available to meet or consult with the work group as it prepares its section of the accreditation document.

During this period, the Dean receives the following information from ACPE for action:

  1. Proposed site visit dates; and
  2. List of site team members for review and approval; and
  3. Site visit sample itinerary and meeting instructions.

Five to Two Months Prior to ACPE Visit:

The work groups submit their initial drafts by the predetermined deadline. Shortly after the deadline, community meetings are held where presentations on each of the 25 Standards occur. These presentations provide qualitative and quantitative data to support how well the School of Pharmacy is meeting or exceeding each of the Standards. The meetings also provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions, seek further clarification, and suggest additions to the report that may have been omitted.

Two Months Prior and Immediately Preceding ACPE Visit:

The report editors take the final drafts for every Standard and develop a comprehensive report. The final draft is then reviewed by the Self-Study Committee and final edits are made. The final report, along with any accompanying supporting materials are submitted to the site team members no later than six weeks prior to the scheduled visit date.

The School of Pharmacy holds several update meetings for faculty, staff, preceptors, and students to review program accomplishments and challenges prior to the site visit.

The Self-Study Committee holds a rehearsal meeting with each of the groups or committees that will meet with the site visit team.

The meeting itinerary and other required documents are submitted to ACPE for review by their stated deadlines.

How can I increase my knowledge about ACPE standards?

To learn more about the ACPE accreditation process, visit the ACPE accreditation website.

The MCW School of Pharmacy has an average on-time graduation rate of 84% and an average retention rate of 94%. Residency match rates have consistently been above national average.

Class Total Graduated  Overall Retention Rate NAPLEX First-Time Pass Rate NAPLEX National Average  Residency & Fellowship Match Rate  Residency Match Rate Residency Match National Average* 
 2020 41 94% 95% 87% 72%  70% 63%
 2021 52 98% 83% 84% 75% 72%  65%
 2022 41 92% 77% 79% 93% 93%  77%
 2023 37 93% 69% 78% 92% 87%  82%
* does not include fellowships

MCW Pharmacy School Accreditation Contact


Ehab A. Abourashed, PhD, MS, BPharm

Assistant Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, Professor, Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences


The Medical College of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy’s Doctor of Pharmacy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, 190 S. LaSalle St., Suite 2850, Chicago, IL 60603-3499, (312) 664-3575; (866) 228-2631 (fax). Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education