Prepare for Your DDS/DMD Site Visit

Find out what to expect before, during and after your program’s site visit. 

About DDS/DMD Site Visits

The Commission on Dental Accreditation has a commitment to assess all dental education programs sponsored by dental schools concurrently whenever possible. The purpose of the site visit evaluation is to obtain in-depth information concerning each program's compliance with the Accreditation Standards. Information provided in the comprehensive self-study document completed by the institution for each program is confirmed, documentation is reviewed, interviews are conducted and each program is observed by the visiting committee. Information related to the site visit is viewed as confidential.

With one exception, a seven-year site visit cycle for accreditation review applies to all dental, advanced dental, and allied dental disciplines. Programs in the discipline of oral and maxillofacial surgery are evaluated on a five-year cycle.

See upcoming DDS/DMD site visits.
Review the accreditation and site visit process for DDS/DMD programs.
Get the necessary documents for your DDS/DMD site visit.
Use the CODA E-Portal to upload documents related to your site visit.

Before Your DDS/DMD Site Visit

Site Visit Timeline Overview

12 - 22 months prior to site visit

  • Invitation to Commission's Site Visit Orientation Session head at the annual session of ADEA

2 years prior to site visit - There are two mailings

  • Proposed site visit dates provided to the institution; Information provided to the institution via email or web posting:
  • First mailing to CEO:
    • Site visit confirmation form and Institutional Officer’s, Program and Program Directors Data Form
    • Second mailing when Confirmation of Site Visit dates has been returned and is sent to CAO
      • Letter acknowledging confirmation of date
      • Previous Site Visit Report(s)
      • Timetable for Accreditation Activities
      • Electronic Submission Guidelines
      • Evaluation & Operational Policies and Procedures (EOPP)
      • Accreditation Standards, Self-Study Guides, Site Visitor Evaluation Reports (SVERs), Frequency of Citings for applicable disciplines
      • Policy on Silent Observer Opportunity
      • CODA policy on State Board Participation and role on Site Visit teams
      • State Board Participation Form
      • Policy on Conflict of Interest
      • Policy on Complaints Directed at CODA Accredited programs
      • Policy on Site Visitors
      • Transportation and Hotel Form
      • Proposed Site Visit Schedule

1 Year Prior to Site Visit

  • Instructions for materials to be available on-site
  • Electronic Submission Guidelines
  • Educational Activity Sites Form
  • Screening Lists
  • Student notification letter
  • Third Party Comments and Complaints Policies

If requested by the institution, a letter of invitation to participate is sent to a generalist (regional accrediting agency).

3-4 Months Prior to Site Visit

  • Information provided to the institution via email:
    • Final communication with site visit team roster
    • Distribution of Material to be Submitted by Institution prior to the site visit
    • Electronic Submission Guidelines
    • Data Profile

Approximately 2 Months Prior to Site Visit

  • Completed self-study materials forwarded by institution to each site visitor and the Commission.

Approximately 1 month prior to site visit

  • Information communicated to institution:
    • Commission review of the self-study materials indicating completeness or need for additional information (including requests to Commission from site visitors)
    • Finalize site visit schedules and coordinate on-site logistics with Predoctoral manager

Site Visit is Conducted

Two Years Prior to Site Visit

Institutional Officer's Program and Program Directors Data Form for Accreditation Site Visit: The dean is asked to complete and return this form to the Commission identifying the personnel who should receive correspondence at various points prior to the site visit.

The Commission has moved to an electronic document storage system. It is now required that all self-studies and related materials submitted to program reviewers and to the Commission be provided both as paper copies and electronically. Please refer to the Electronic Submission Guidelines (PDF).

Accreditation Standards: The standards are updated and/or revised periodically; therefore it is the responsibility of the institution/program to make sure they are using the most recent version of the standards when completing the self-study document.

Site Visitor Evaluation Reports (SVERs): The SVER is the actual form that the site visitors use to evaluate the program while on-site.

Frequency of Citings: The frequency of citings report for each discipline/program is included to provide the dean, program administrators and faculty with information related to the frequent areas of non-compliance with current Standards cited by visiting committees of the Commission.

You may download Accreditation Standards, Site Visitor Evaluation Reports (SVERs), Self Study Guides and Frequency of Citings for each discipline here:
Advanced Dental Education
Allied Dental Education

Evaluation & Operational Policies and Procedures (EOPP) is a compilation of the Commission's current policies and procedures. Because policies and procedures are revised periodically, the institution/program must download the most current version after each Commission meeting throughout the site visit process.

Silent Observer Opportunity: In response to concerns expressed by varied communities, the Commission permits silent observers to attend and observe predoctoral accreditation site visits. This opportunity was established in 1992 and is intended to assist dental schools with the Commission’s site visit process in preparing more effectively for their own site visits. Observers must be approved by the institution being visited and are required to sign the Commission’s "Agreement of Confidentiality." In the first mailing, the Dean will be afforded the opportunity to request that a representative from the dental school serve as a silent observer. Requests for silent observer opportunities must be made in writing by the Dean and requested at least one (1) year prior to the site visit.

Transportation and Hotel Information: The Dean is asked to provide the Commission with information regarding the nearest airport and the names of (3), three-star hotels in close proximity to the dental school that have internet access and a restaurant in the hotel.

State Board Participation: The Commission notifies the state board of dentistry when an accreditation visit is to be conducted in its jurisdiction. The dental school will be provided with the Commission's policy and a description of the representative's role and responsibilities and asked if the Commission should extend an invitation to the state board of dentistry to participate in the site visit. Whether the state board representative participates is at the discretion of the dental school.

Site Visit Schedule: Templates for suggested schedules for each program being site visited are provided. The Dean is asked to return the completed schedule(s) approximately 48 months prior to the scheduled site visit. The Commission finalizes the schedule(s) and provides an electronic copy to the school. The dental school is responsible for distributing the schedule(s) to the appropriate administrators, faculty, staff, and students. The Commission forwards the finalized schedule(s) to the site visitors.

Generalist: The generalist is a representative of the sponsoring institution's regional accrediting agency. Should the administration wish to have a generalist participate in the site visit, the Dean is asked to notify the Commission.

One Year Prior to the Site Visit

Site Visitor Screening Lists: The Dean and Program Directors are asked to indicate conflicts of interest by crossing site visitors off the Screening Lists. These lists, the Commission's Policy on Conflict of Interest, and the Policy on the Visiting Committee are forwarded to the Dean. The dental school is allowed to screen site visitors in accord with the two (2) policies. The site visit team will be chosen from the remaining consultants who have not been eliminated from the Screening Lists.

Sites Where Educational Activity Occurs: The Commission may conduct site visits to the off-campus locations where a significant portion of each student's/resident's educational experience is provided, based on the specifics of the program, the accreditation standards, and Commission policies and procedures, or if other cause exists for such a visit. The dental school is asked to identify all disciplines/programs being site visited that have affiliated sites off-campus and provide information on educational experiences at those sites so that the visiting committee can determine if a visit is needed.

Letter addressed to students/residents: The dental school is asked to distribute the open letter to the students/residents advising each class of the opportunity to meet with the visiting committee during the site visit.

Third Party Comment Policy: In accordance with the United States Department of Education requirements, the Commission has adopted a statement regarding the receipt of third party comments about accredited educational programs. In compliance with this policy, the Commission announces the date of upcoming accreditation site visits in an issue of its newsletter, CODA Communicator. The policy further requires the institution to announce to students, faculty, patients and the public the date of the upcoming site visit and that there is opportunity to provide third party comments to the Commission. The Dean is requested to provide the information required in the policy to the appropriate audiences. As a suggestion, a sample policy statement, which could be posted in one or more prominent sites within the institution, is provided below.

Complaint Policy: The dental school is reminded of the Commission’s policy on "Complaints." The policy requires that the Commission-accredited programs inform students, at least annually, of their opportunity to submit a complaint to the Commission. The policy further requires each accredited program to maintain a record of student complaints received since the Commission’s last comprehensive review of the program(s).

Two to Three Months Prior to the Site Visit

The institution/program works with the Manager of Predoctoral Dental Education on the following:

Information regarding meal arrangements: The Commission asks that the dental school arrange to have a light breakfast on each day of the visit and a light lunch (continental breakfast and box lunches, sandwiches, salads) provided in the conference room(s) on days one and two of the visit to enable the committee to conduct its work. Commission staff is available to discuss the details of meal arrangements prior to the site visit. Arrangements can be made to reimburse the dental school for the cost incurred, if necessary.

Transportation and computer support: Approximately four weeks prior to the site visit, Commission staff will contact the institution’s site visit coordinator to discuss transportation arrangements for the team from the hotel to the institution. Additionally, it will be very helpful if, at least, one Windows-based computer running Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Word and a printer are available in each of the two main conference rooms (predoctoral and advanced/allied).

Submission of Self-Study Reports: Sixty (60) days prior to the visit, the Dean is requested to upload to the CODA Portal the Self-Study materials for all educational programs. Please see the Electronic Submission Guidelines (PDF).

During Your DDS/DMD Site Visit


The basic purpose of the site visit is to permit peers to assess the programs' compliance with the Accreditation Standards and with the programs' own stated goals and objectives. The visiting committee confirms information provided in the self-study; reviews documentation; conducts interviews and observes students/residents. Commission action on accreditation status is based upon the program in operation at the time of the site visit. It is not based upon any proposed changes in the program. The visiting committee will, however, expect to be apprised of any facility, faculty or curricular changes that are contemplated but not yet implemented. Information related to the site visit is strictly confidential.


The entire accreditation process is based upon integrity, which includes fair and impartial judgments, protection of confidentiality and the avoidance of any real or perceived conflict of interest.

Site visitors have access to a great deal of confidential material and are aware they must not divulge that information to anyone at any time. This discretion is critical to maintaining the integrity of the Commission and its activities as perceived by the programs. If programs believe they cannot reveal confidential information to the Commission without having it made public, the entire voluntary accreditation process will fail. Only free and open sharing of information allows the process to succeed. Unless otherwise indicated, all meetings and site visit materials, all information obtained on-site, and all discussions related to program or institution accreditation are confidential. Confidentiality has no expiration date – it lasts forever!

Visiting Committee Schedule

Although the Commission provides suggested site visit schedule(s), the institution is responsible for preparing the final draft schedule(s). Any necessary modifications to the schedule(s), proposed by the institution, are made through Commission staff prior to the site visit. The schedule is also reviewed at the beginning of the visit to determine whether any other changes are indicated. The institution notifies all individuals associated with the institution, who are participating in the review, of the time and place of their scheduled conferences with the visiting committee.

While it is expected that all arrangements will be determined by the dean/program director/administrator, experience indicates that administrators welcome suggestions by the Commission for the conduct of site visits. Although more detailed suggested schedule(s) of conferences will be forwarded to the dean/program director/administrator prior to the scheduled visit, the Commission expects that an evaluation visit will include the following components. Please refer to the detailed sample schedule(s).

  • An opening conference with the appropriate institutional administrators and dean/program director/administrator at the beginning of the visit to include an overview and description of the institution and its programs. The purpose of this initial conference is to orient visiting committee members to the programs' particular strengths and weaknesses. This session is also intended to orient the administrators and program director/administrator to the methods and procedures of the visiting committee. Topics frequently covered in this session include: program goals, administration, faculty recruitment and evaluation, finances, facilities, curriculum development, assessment of outcomes, long-term planning and program development.
  • Tours of the program facilities and related learning resources facilities.
  • Lunch. Because of the time limitations, it works best if lunch for the visiting committee is carried in. (Suggested items: sandwiches, box lunches, salads, etc.)
  • Conferences with faculty with teaching or administrative responsibilities for the program.
  • Student/Resident interviews. These interviews should include the students/residents and the site visit committee only; no faculty or program director should be present.
  • If the program utilizes off-campus facility(ies) for didactic or clinical experience, the visiting committee may visit this facility. According to Commission policy, the visiting committee will identify the sites to be visited based upon educational experiences at the site (for example based upon length of training at the site, educational experience or evaluation/competencies achieved). More information: Approval of Sites Where Educational Activity Occurs (Off-Campus).
  • A final conference, with the Dean and the director/administrator of the programs will be conducted at the end of the visit. At that time, the visiting committee will formally summarize its findings and any recommendations made relating to the educational programs. The dean/program director/administrator may choose to include other individuals in the final conference.
  • Following the final conference with the dean/program director/administrator, another conference with the institution’s chief executive officer will be conducted. The visiting committee will report briefly on the findings and recommendations related to the evaluation. Such a meeting also affords the chief executive officer an opportunity to relate plans for the entire institution that will involve the dental and dental-related programs. The Dean may be present during the conference with the institution’s administrator(s).
Briefing Faculty, Administrators and Students / Residents on the Site Visit

It is assumed that the program’s faculty, student body and administration will be apprised of the Commission’s visit. The dean/program director/administrator should inform the faculty that they will be expected to discuss course objectives, teaching methods, particular skills and abilities expected of students upon completion of the course and the measures used to evaluate student/resident performance.

Meeting Rooms

Conferences with administrators and faculty should be scheduled in adequately-sized and well-ventilated meeting rooms with conference tables which are large enough to accommodate the visiting committee and faculty member participants. It is suggested that all predoctoral conferences be scheduled in rooms within close proximity. If more than one program is to be evaluated, an additional conference room for the advanced programs and one for the allied programs (ideally within close proximity to the main room) will be required.

Resources / Materials Available On-Site

It is expected that additional sources of information will be made available to the visiting committee on-site. Please refer to the Documentation of Activities for suggested materials to have available.

Guidelines for Visiting Committee Members

The Commission has approved the following guidelines describing visiting committee members’ responsibilities during site visits.

Committee members must not accept social invitations from host administrators, faculty or staff. The Commission believes firmly that the primary function of a visiting committee is program evaluation and review.

The self-study documents are uploaded to CODA’s Portal for access by the visiting committee members at least 60 days prior to the site visit. Visiting committee members are expected to review all materials and to be familiar with academic and administrative aspects of the program as described in the self-study report prior to the site visit.

Visiting committee members meet in executive sessions to review, evaluate and discuss all aspects of the program. Executive sessions are generally held in the evening preceding the beginning of the site visit and at scheduled intervals during the site visit.

Although visiting committee members discuss general findings and recommendations with the administrator during the final conference, a decision regarding the accreditation status of the education programs will be made only by the Commission at its regularly scheduled meeting following discussion and in-depth review of the committee’s report and the institution’s response.

After Your Comprehensive DDS/DMD Site Visit


After Site Visit Activities

4-6 weeks time after site visit

  • Preliminary Draft Site Visit Report developed from site visitor findings and forwarded to the visiting committee for comment/approval prior to submission of the report to the CEO, Dean, and Program Directors for institutional review

6-8 weeks time after site visit

  • Preliminary Draft Site Visit Report submitted to CEO of University and copied to the Dean and Program Directors of the dental programs for 30-day review and comment

30 days time after site visit

  • Response to the Preliminary Draft Site Visit Report submitted to the Commission office (under the Dean’s signature)
  • Dean and Program Directors will receive a prompt from the ADA Health Policy Institute to complete the Post Site Visit Survey online

(upon CODA receipt of response)

  • Preliminary Draft Site Visit Report and Dean’s/Program Directors' Response forwarded together to the applicable Commission Review Committee(s)

Commission meets Winter (Jan/Feb) and Summer (July/Aug); (transmittal letter is sent within thirty (30) days of the Commission's meeting)

  • Commission takes final action and sends letter of transmittal accompanying the Commission-approved formal site visit report to the President of the University, chief administrative officers, as applicable, and dental school Dean and Program Directors.


The responsibilities of the visiting committee are complete with the conclusion of the final conference of the site visit. Should the programs have questions regarding the site visit or any recommendations made, please refer to the CODA Staff Directory to contact appropriate staff.

View Staff Directory

Post Site Visit Evaluation

Both program personnel and site visitors are given the opportunity to comment on the accreditation process. Approximately (1) one month after the site visit, each person will receive a prompt via email from the ADA Health Policy Institute on behalf of the Commission inviting them to complete an online questionnaire. The results are confidential. Comments are used to establish any needed changes in accreditation processes and site visitor training.

The Preliminary Site Visit Report 

The written site visit report embodies a review of the program's compliance with the Accreditation Standards at the time of the site visit and serves as the basis for accreditation decisions. It also guides officials and administrators of educational institutions in determining the degree of their compliance with the Accreditation Standards. The report clearly delineates any observed deficiencies in compliance with Standards on which the Commission will take action.

In the report, the Commission evaluates educational programs based on Accreditation Standards and provides constructive recommendations which relate to the Accreditation Standards and suggestions which relate to program enhancement.

The preliminary draft of the site visit report is prepared by the site visitors, consolidated by staff into a single document and approved by the visiting committee. The approved draft report is then transmitted to the institutional administrator, dental Dean and program directors for factual review and comment prior to its review by the Commission.

The preliminary site visit report reflects the program as it exists at the time of the site visit. Any improvements or changes made subsequent to a site visit may be described and documented in the program’s response to the preliminary draft report, which becomes part of the Commission’s formal record of the program’s evaluation. Such improvements or changes represent progress made by the institution and are considered by the Commission in determining accreditation status, although the site visit report is not revised to reflect these changes.

Response to the Preliminary Site Visit Report

The institution has a maximum of 30 days in which to comment and respond to factual inaccuracies noted in the preliminary site visit report. The Commission has developed the document Guidelines for Preparation of Reports to assist the programs in preparing the site visit report response, if needed and is included when the preliminary site visit report is sent to the institution/program. Programs can report progress in implementing recommendations contained in the preliminary report after the 30 days and can submit other information for review by the Commission. While submission of multiple reports is not encouraged, the Commission will accept supplemental information no later than June 1 for consideration at the Summer Commission meeting or December 1 for consideration at the Winter meeting. The visiting committee’s approved draft report, the institution’s response, if one is necessary, and reports of progress toward recommendations are considered by the Commission when taking the accreditation action.

Commission members and visiting committee members are not authorized, under any circumstances, to disclose any information obtained during site visits or Commission meetings. The extent to which publicity is given to site visit reports is determined by the chief administrator of the educational institution. Decisions to publicize reports, in part or in full, are at the discretion of the educational institution officials, rather than the Commission. However, if the institution elects to release sections of the report to the public, the Commission reserves the right to make the entire site visit report public.

Commission Review of Site Visit Reports

The Commission and its discipline specific review committees meet twice each year to consider site visit reports, progress reports, applications for initial accreditation, etc., and policies related to accreditation. These meetings occur in Winter (Jan/Feb) and Summer (July/Aug). Site Visits completed between November 1 and April 30 are reviewed at the Summer meeting and site visits completed between May 1 and October 31 are reviewed at the Winter meeting.

Formal Site Visit Report and Notification of Accreditation Action

An institution/program will receive the formal site visit report, including the accreditation status, within 30 days following the official meeting of the Commission. The Commission’s definitions of accreditation classifications are published in its Accreditation Standards documents and EOPP: Evaluation and Operational Policies and Procedures.

Following assignment of accreditation status, the final site visit report is prepared and transmitted to the institution. The Commission expects the chief administrators of the institutions, the deans of the dental schools and program administrators to make copies of the Commission site visit reports available to faculty members and others directly concerned with program quality so that they may work toward meeting the recommendations contained in the report.


As noted earlier, the information provided here is intended to assist institutions/programs become familiar with the site visit process and communications that will occur starting 24 months prior to the scheduled site visit. Periodically, Commission Standards, policies and procedures are revised and it is the responsibility of the institution/program to make sure they are working with the most current Accreditation Standards when working on the self-study document. The Commission makes every effort to keep programs apprised of changes, please feel free to contact Commission staff at any time.

Contact Commission Staff