Standard One: Mission / Vision of Education & Learning Program
ICF Coaching Education Accreditation confers legitimacy and credibility to providers and curriculum and is required for programs that want to be included in the ICF online registry. A rigorous accreditation process signals a commitment to continuous improvement and provides a common language and consistent standards.
ICF Coaching Education Accreditation is open to all education and training programs that equip people with the ability to use coaching skills in how they interact with others. Accreditation is open to all education and training programs that are educating and equipping coaches professionally, personally, and organizationally to maximize personal and professional potential, and want to be held to the highest industry standards.
The organization will be asked to document the following:
Public disclosure of an organizational mission and vision for being a coach education provider and the learning philosophy that guides delivery and program management.
An agreement to abide by the standards and ICF Coaching Education Accreditation Code of Conduct by all providers who are approved for an ICF accreditation.
Being accredited by ICF is the gold standard for coaching education globally. Tell us why you chose to become a coaching education provider.
Standard Two: Administration, Organization & Business Operations
ICF Coaching Education recognizes the impact that a provider’s operations, organization, and administration have upon any participant’s experience of quality and equity in the provider’s program.
This will protect the ICF Brand as the standard of excellence in the field by having confidence that any participant enjoys quality and equity when engaged with any ICF accredited provider in and outside of the direct delivery of learning.
It will also affirm that ICF Coaching Education Accreditation generates credibility with purchasers, and along with that comes provider responsibilities to demonstrate consistent delivery of quality and equity.
The organization will be asked to document the following:
Publicly Accessible Website that states:
Title of education offerings
Number of contact hours
Dates/locations of educational offerings
Language(s) that are used
Intended participants and pre-requisites for individuals to enroll
Contact phone number/email
Organizational contact list
Partial completion policy
Transparent fee schedule
Established business enterprise (physical published address)
Organization admin information (Commercial organizations only)
Historically, ICF practices in accreditation established an invisible boundary between the accredited providers and daily operations in the accreditation processes. In the recent 3-5 years this boundary is softening and more interaction, collaboration and partnering occurs.
Both providers and program personnel must demonstrate, through initial and ongoing review of programs, that a mindset for continuous improvement underpins all coach education program decisions.
Accredited providers will be required to engage in a regular cycle process throughout the life of the accreditation that requires the provider to answer and demonstrate the expected competence that delivers quality and equity, and abides the ICF Values, Code of Ethics, and that the Code of Conduct for accreditation is fully incorporated with provider business practices.
The organization will be asked to document the following:
A written statement on ethics, integrity, and transparency
A contact list of enrolled and graduated participants to verify the learning they participated in, completed, and earned graduation
Standard Four: Education & Training
ICF-accredited providers will be designated with levels of accreditation (Levels 1, 2 and 3) to provide a more direct and clearer path to an ICF Credential. These name changes seek to eliminate jargon and to clearly communicate in the language of a non-coach participant so that the path for progressive development over time is clearer from the moment of introduction to that of becoming a professional coach in any context, academic or commercial.
Level 1 accreditations, formerly ACSTH, must meet the following requirements:
All education/training programs must have been in operation for a minimum of three (3) months as established by the first time the offering was delivered to participants with content as submitted in the application.
All accredited providers must have at least one graduating class of at least five (5) participants, that has completed the full education program with curriculum content consistent with the intended accreditation application.
Contact Hours: 60-124 Contact Hours
At least 50% of all education must be delivered in synchronous activities and 80% focused on the ICF Core Competencies. The remaining 50% of the education and education hours can be delivered asynchronously and remaining 20% focused on subjects not directly related to the ICF Core Competencies.
Contact hours: Clock hours spent in synchronous (real-time) interactions between faculty and participants and asynchronous or clock hours spent outside of real-time interaction between faculty and participants. Synchronous contact hours can include time spent in direct instruction, real-time discussions, observation and feedback or practice coaching sessions, and mentoring participants. Asynchronous contact hours can include outside reading, writing, research, journaling, practice coaching and various other activities that may occur outside of the synchronous setting. All asynchronous hours require some method of validating that the activity was completed by the participant.
Homework/Independent study: Clock hours spent outside of real-time interaction between faculty and participants (asynchronous). These may include outside reading, writing, research, journaling, practice coaching and various other activities that may occur outside of the synchronous setting. All asynchronous hours require some method of validating that the activity was completed by the participant.
Application requirements: The organization will be asked to document the number of hours that their education program offers and provide a list of all classes being offered.
The organization will be asked to document all of the classes that make up the full intended program. The following details are required for each class:
Hours spent teaching
Core Competencies taught
Primary delivery method
Education/Training Materials Upload
ICF will request the following information to support a Level 1 application:
Participant & Instructor materials
PowerPoint slides/other graphic handouts
One (1) recording (MP3, WMA or WAV) of an observed coaching session
Written feedback of the submitted observed coaching session
Two (2) recordings (MP3, WMA or WAV) of a performance evaluation in which a student passed at the ACC level
Written feedback and word-for-word transcript for both performance evaluation recordings submitted
Five (5) Observed Coaching Sessions for each Participant
ICF considers observed coaching sessions a vital component of quality coaching education. Level 1 accredited providers are required to provide a minimum of five (5) observed coaching sessions for each participant. Written feedback must be provided for at least three (3) of the five sessions.
Observed coaching session definition: Sessions in which a participant is coaching any client, fellow participant or another person as a method for practicing their coaching skills.
Time requirement: ICF does not have a minimum length requirement for observed coaching sessions. Sessions should be long enough for a coaching conversation.
Structure: Observed coaching sessions are observed by an instructor/observer who is responsible for providing written feedback to the participant, noting the participant’s use of the ICF Core Competencies in the coaching session. These sessions may be observed live or through a recorded session. Observed coaching sessions count as part of the total instructional hours of the program.
Application requirements: The organization will be asked to submit one example of a recorded observed coaching session, and the corresponding written feedback for the submitted recording.
Organization should only be submitting recordings for which they have received explicit permission from the client/participant to submit recordings of their coaching sessions to be reviewed by ICF staff and performance evaluation assessors for the purposes of assessing the quality and methods of the coaching.
10 hours Mentor Coaching
Level 1 accreditations are required to provide 10 hours of Mentor Coaching over a three (3) month or longer period of time.
Mentor Coaching definition: a participant being coached on their coaching skills rather than on practice building, life balance or other topics unrelated to the development of a participant’s coaching skill. Mentoring is intended to serve as a development process for the participant that takes place in a repetitive cycle of receiving feedback regarding participant coaching, reflecting on this feedback and practicing new skills. The focus must be on the development of skills using the ICF Core Competencies.
Structure: Minimum of 10 hours of Mentor Coaching. These 10 hours should be integrated into the total contact hours and occur periodically throughout the course of the contact hours. Group mentoring may count for a maximum of seven (7) hours toward the mentoring requirement. The group being mentored may not consist of more than 10 participants. A minimum of three (3) of the 10 mentoring hours must be one-on-one mentoring. All Mentor Coaching should be completed verbally.
Application requirements: The organization will be asked to supply a description of the Mentor Coaching process used within the contact hours.
Level 1 accredited providers must administer a final performance evaluation in a formal testing environment. The final performance evaluation must, at a minimum, contain an actual observation of coaching at least 20 minutes to one hour in length which is graded as a final performance evaluation.
Standards: The performance evaluation must be graded at or above the ICF Credential ACC level, which is described in the minimum skill requirements for ACC. Participants must receive written feedback/scoring for their performance evaluation that provides information regarding their performance on each of the ICF Core Competencies. Performance evaluation reviewers must hold an ICF Credential at the PCC or MCC level, successfully complete the full PCC Marker Assessor training or Refresher training and competently understand the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.
Application requirements: The organization will be required to:
Document the performance evaluation process and grading criteria used for the final performance evaluation;
Document the start date for a class of participants that has completed the program including the performance evaluation process and when they graduated;
Submit two (2) recordings of an actual participant coaching session that was used for the final performance evaluation and received a passing evaluation. Coaching demonstrations by faculty members cannot be submitted for evaluation.
Submit the transcript and written feedback for these recordings.
Procedure: Performance Evaluation recordings will be sent to qualified ICF Assessors to be evaluated. This process is to ensure that the recording was assessed at the ACC Credential level within the program. If the recording does not pass at the ACC Credential level, the organization will be able to resubmit new recordings for a fee of $250 USD. This retake process can be completed a total of two (2) times. If the recordings still do not receive passing scores at that time, the education program will not be awarded the Level 1 accreditation.
Director of Education
The Director of Education provides oversight of the curriculum, instructional processes, education of instructors and all observation and examination processes.
Specific job responsibilities:
Curriculum and class offerings: ensure the curriculum being taught is the same as the curriculum accredited by ICF as a part of the submitted Level 1 accreditation application.
Instructional process: ensure content is delivered by methods noted in the submitted Level 1 accreditation application, and also that all time requirements for classes are met.
Education of instructors: train program instructors in alignment with the Train the Trainer program outlined in the submitted Level 1 accreditation application.
Examination processes: ensure performance evaluation process is being followed exactly as noted in the submitted Level 1 accreditation application.
Directors must hold an active ICF PCC or MCC credential and subscribe to the ICF definition of coaching, Code of Ethics and Core Competencies.
5 years client coaching experience
Demonstrated facilitation and training skills – training history
The organization will be required to document who the Director of Education is and their current ICF Credential level.
Standard Five: Teaching & Instruction
We evolve and innovate our current global program accreditation model to maintain the highest standards for coach-specific education and to ensure ICF remains the standard-bearer for excellence.
Your organization is making a real and measurable difference in people’s lives, which is why we’re passionate about making sure our coaches and the organizations that train them are well-equipped to do their jobs.
Level 1 accreditations must meet the following key standards areas:
Participant to Faculty ratio – All accredited providers will report the number of participants in each cohort.
ICF Credentialed Faculty and Staff
Director of Education: Directors must hold an active ICF PCC or MCC credential and subscribe to the ICF definition of coaching, Code of Ethics and Core Competencies.
Instructors: All instructors who are teaching content based on the ICF definition of coaching, ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics must hold one of the three ICF Credentials (ACC, PCC or MCC). Those teaching other optional content not related to the ICF Core Competencies, definition of coaching or the Code of Ethics are not required to hold an ICF Credential.
Observers: All those serving as observers of participant coaching sessions, and those responsible for providing written feedback, must hold one of the three ICF Credentials (ACC, PCC or MCC).
Mentors: All mentors must hold an ICF Credential at the ACC (must complete at least one full cycle of their credential with renewal), PCC or MCC level. Mentors must competently understand the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.
Performance evaluation reviewers: All performance evaluation reviewers must hold an ICF Credential at the PCC or MCC level. Performance evaluation reviewers must competently understand the ICF Core Competencies, Code of Ethics and successfully complete the ICF PCC Marker Assessor Training or be trained by a coach who has successfully completed the training.
Faculty are well educated/trained – Accredited providers must demonstrate how all current or prospective faculty have received training and development in facilitating adult learning and engagement in the classroom (in-person and virtual) and in the use of the technology they will rely on. Accredited providers are to evaluate faculty by both the participants they are teaching and the Director of Education.
Standard Six: Learning Experience & Support
In order for accredited providers to prepare and create great coaches, they must do more than teach skills and techniques. Organizations need to focus on the delivery methods, environment, and resources as those could make or break the participant’s learning experience.
To create a powerful and engaging experience, an ICF-accredited provider is to focus on:
Career Development – The accredited provider that supports the participant in career development create the best experiences. Accredited providers need to provide guidelines and insights into the factors that influence a thriving coaching practice, whether internal or external. This could be by providing written materials, studies, or online materials to support the knowledge and skill building needs of the end-user. It could also include research projects with the potential to inform the future of coaching for their practice or the profession.
Participant Advising – Organizations will provide materials and referrals to specialized coaches, coaching programs, business resources and services. Moreover, it is important to engage in discussions about the future of coaching and specializations in order to deepen the understanding that the coaching education is only the beginning, and that other knowledge and proficiencies will be needed to become a successful coach.
Learning Methods Used – Accredited providers need to create a blended learning experience for the end-user. This could include a mix of: instructor led discussions, whiteboard, storytelling, interactive methods, peer to peer, case studies, practical/hands on coaching, demonstrations, practicum, media and e-learning, video, webinars, web-based and audioconferencing.
Open & Free Learning Environments – Organizations will create inclusive and equitable environments with reasonable accommodations for disabilities and underrepresented identities. Safe, and transparent, in which facilitators demonstrate vulnerability and integrity.
Support for Alumni – The participant may be going from the program to a solo practitioner role. The community build in the during the education and training program can be intentionally leveraged to support the participant in moving forward. While the organization is not required to lead Alumni events and communities, facilitating the discussion and development should be included in the education and training.
Standard Seven: Assessment, Evaluation & Effectiveness
ICF-accredited providers will establish a baseline for quality that satisfied the perspective from both the participant and the participant’s consumers. This baseline will be reported to the ICF through a series of self-study surveys released every six (6) months.
Detailed statements of agreement, compliance and limitation, duty to notify and payment agreements are included in the sample application and online Level 1 accreditation application. Applicants must consent to these agreements as part of the application process.
60-75 Contact Hours
$2,000 USD review fee
76+ Contact Hours
$2,500 USD review fee
*Application fees are non-refundable and do not guarantee accreditation approval. Level 1 accreditation is valid for three calendar years.
Due to an issue with ICF’s online payment merchant, applicants in Singapore must contact Regional Development Manager Minji Oh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 82.10.6778.3017 to purchase ICF Coaching Education Accreditation applications.
Accreditation Start Date
Organizations who submit an application for accreditation will receive an official communication from ICF upon the program’s accreditation. The organization accreditation start date will be the date the application was submitted for review. If the education and training offering has only been held once by the organization, ICF will retroactively approve the program’s first graduating class into the organization’s accreditation. If the organization has held the training program multiple times, ICF will only retroactively approve the group of participants who most recently graduated before the organization submitted the full application for Level 1 accreditation by ICF.
If you have questions or need support regarding your ICF Coaching Education accreditation application, please visit the ICF Support page.