ACGME Accreditation

What is ACGME?

The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is a private, non-profit organization that sets standards and guidelines for US graduate medical education (residency and fellowship) programs and the institutions that sponsor them.

What if my program isn't ACGME accredited?

The majority of residents and fellows at UMN are training in an ACGME-accredited program.  Even if you coordinate only non-accredited programs or programs overseen by other bodies, having a broad understanding of ACGME and its role will help you navigate GME in the metro community.  It will also help you understand when you receive information that applies only to ACGME-accredited programs (this will be clearly marked in emails from the GME Office, but, for instance, a wide variety of topics and questions arise during monthly coordinator meetings).

Institutional & program accreditation

The ACGME sets accreditation requirements for both sponsoring institutions and programs.  Achieving and maintaining accreditation provides assurance to the public that the institution or program meets minimum quality standards and is training competent physicians.  Accreditation is overseen by ACGME's Review Committees (RCs), which are made up of specialty experts who set accreditation standards and provide peer evaluation of institutions and programs.

Program requirements

Program requirements

Each specialty (i.e. residency) and subspecialty (i.e. fellowship) program has unique program requirements that they must adhere to in order to maintain accreditation.  Program coordinators and directors should know these program requirements inside and out.  To find your program requirements, navigate to, hover over "Specialties" in the grey menu bar (last selection on the right), then select your specialty area.  Under the "Specialty Links" heading, click the "Program Requirements and FAQs and Applications" link to access requirements for all residency and fellowship programs within your specialty.

As you review your requirements, you may notice that some of the text is in bold.  This bold text is the common base that all program requirements, regardless of specialty, are built on: the Common Program Requirements (CPR).

You will also notice that some requirements are followed by a designation in parentheses of core, detail, or outcome:

  • Core requirements are those defining structure, resource, or process elements that are essential; these must be followed.
  • Detail requirements describe methods for achieving compliance with a core requirement.  They are best practices, but programs that are in substantial compliance with their requirements have flexibility to use alternate or innovative approaches to meet the requirements.
  • Outcome requirements specify expected measurable or observable attributes of residents or fellows at key stages of their education.  You should be measuring and tracking these expected outcomes for each resident or fellow throughout their training.

Continuous accreditation

Continuous accreditation

Starting in 2013, ACGME implemented its Next Accreditation System (NAS).  Under the old system, programs underwent a periodic, paperwork-intensive review process; review cycles ranged from one to five years, depending on the outcome of ACGME's previous review of the program.  Now, ACGME follows a system of continuous accreditation, where programs submit data regularly throughout the year and are notified of their accreditation status at least annually.

ACGME and the sponsoring institution both have important roles in overseeing and supporting residency and fellowship programs.  Review this accreditation timeline presentation for an overview of annual program requirements from UMN GME and ACGME.  The presentation is in Prezi, where you can click through each step, then freely navigate the entire timeline, including zooming in and out.  We recommend viewing it in full screen.

You should be familiar with these annual requirements, but there is no need to memorize them.  The GME Office sends programs detailed communications about these requirements as they come up throughout the year, and provides in-depth information and training through quarterly program coordinator training sessions.

Accreditation Data System (ADS)

Accreditation Data System (ADS)

The Accreditation Data System (ADS) is the web-based system that ACGME uses to collect and display accreditation data for all Sponsoring Institutions and programs.  It is the main way that programs and institutions communicate with ACGME, providing information about program structure, faculty, and residents/fellows.

More information about ADS

Log into ADS

If you manage an ACGME-accredited program, your department will establish your access to ADS as part of your onboarding.  If you have not yet been granted access, consult with your program director or supervisor about when you will receive it.

Program letters of agreement (PLAs)

Program letters of agreement (PLAs)

Each University of Minnesota GME program has agreements with sites that provide an educational experience for their trainees (e.g. hospitals, outpatient clinic sites, etc).  These agreements outline legal and educational responsibilities for the program and for the site.  They help protect the program's residents/fellows by ensuring they will receive an appropriate educational experience under adequate supervision.

These agreements are an ACGME requirement; however, at UMN these agreements are required for ALL GME programs, regardless of accreditation status.  They play an important legal and communication role between UMN programs and the many partnering sites who provide education for trainees.

Learn more about agreements, including the two forms they take at UMN, at this Agreements webpage


If you have questions about accreditation, contact Rachel Whitcomb in the GME Office at


Next up: Learn how to navigate the GME website