CVTEA accreditation policies and procedures

Last update to this section: January 2024

VI. Accreditation Standards

Accreditation is the voluntary process by which educational institutions are evaluated for quality based on conformity with established standards. Accreditation serves to enhance the profession and to protect the public by identifying goals and assisting institutions in achieving those goals. The following minimum standards have been established by the AVMA CVTEA® for quality assessment and quality enhancement of accredited veterinary technology programs.


  1. Institutional Accreditation
  2. Finances
  3. Organization and Communications
  4. Physical Facilities and Equipment
  5. Resources for Clinical Instruction
  6. Library and Informational Resources
  7. Admissions
  8. Students
  9. Faculty and Staff
  10. Curriculum
  11. Outcomes Assessment

All accredited programs must substantially meet the Standards of Accreditation. Programs of veterinary technology are evaluated by the CVTEA on the basis of compliance with the Standards. These Standards are intended to assist programs in preparing entry-level veterinary technicians. Standards are written to allow flexibility in the design and implementation of a program. It is recognized that the Standards reflect an evolving process and are subject to change.

The following definitions shall be used in applying the Standards:

  • Must, shall: Indicates an imperative need, duty or requirement; an essential or indispensable item; mandatory.
  • Should: Indicates the recommended and highly desirable manner in which to attain the Standard. Compliance is expected unless there are extraordinary and justifiable circumstances that preclude full compliance.
  • May: Indicates freedom or liberty to follow a suggested alternative.
  • Primary learning is defined as the period of time up to and including the time an essential skill is successfully completed and evaluated. Primary learning sites are facilities used for the teaching and evaluation of students for essential skills completion. This may occur at the campus or at facilities not administratively associated with the degree granting institution. The program is responsible for ensuring safety measures are addressed at primary learning facilities to meet the Standards. Specific areas include, but not limited to:
    • IACUC oversight of animal use
    • Occupational Safety and Health
    • Zoonoses
    • Student personal safety
    • Emergency preparedness
    • Equipment requirements
    • Adequate supervisory oversight
  • Practical experience, outlined in Standard 10d, is defined as the period of time after primary learning when students hone essential skills in a clinical setting. Practical experience sites are off-campus facilities where students hone the essential skills that have been successfully completed and evaluated.
  • On-campus, distance, and distributive education models may utilize off-campus facilities where both types of learning activities, primary learning and practical experiences, occur.
  • On-campus education model is defined as primary learning physically supervised by Program personnel who are employed by, or have a contract with, the institution, whether at on-campus and/or off-site clinical facilities not administratively associated with the degree granting institution.
  • Distance education model is defined as the primary learning process where the student and instructor are not required to be in the same physical location and utilizes synchronous or asynchronous telecommunication or other electronic technologies. Students are evaluated by Program personnel who are employed by, or have a contract with, the institution. Clinical facilities are not administratively associated with the degree granting institution (Standard 10e).
  • Distributive education model is defined as a veterinary technology program using facilities externally located from the main campus, not administratively associated with the degree granting institution, and the majority of student essential skills assessment is completed synchronously by Program personnel physically present during assessment who are employed by, or have a contract with, the institution (Standard10e).
  1. Institutional Accreditation

    An accredited veterinary technology program in the United States must be part of an institution of higher education accredited by an agency recognized by, and in good standing with, the U.S. Department of Education. Non-U.S. programs must be part of an institution of higher learning recognized by, and in good standing with, the appropriate national, provincial, or regional agency with that authority.

  2. Finances

    Sustainable financial support must be adequate for the program to attain the educational goals and support its mission.

  3. Organization and Communications

    3a. The program must develop, publicize, and follow its mission statement.

    3b. There must be clearly defined lines of communication that are open and effective between the institution and the program director, program director and faculty/adjuncts, between program personnel, and between program personnel and students.

    3c. Program relationships with students, faculty, administrators, and the public must be conducted with integrity. Policies and available educational services for veterinary technology students must be clearly defined.

    3d. The CVTEA must be apprised of changes in administration, organization, association with the parent institution, and major changes in the curriculum, faculty, or stated objectives. All changes must be reported to the CVTEA and conform with substantive change reporting requirements and describe how the program will continue to comply with accreditation Standards. It is expected that the program director or interim program director be included in all program reporting. (see AVMA CVTEA Substantive Change Report)

    3e. The program must have an advisory committee that meets at least annually to provide counsel regarding equipment, curriculum, demographic trends and other matters pertaining to the veterinary technology profession. Membership must include veterinarians and veterinary technicians with diverse professional interests, not currently affiliated with the program. Representation should include credentialed veterinary technicians, veterinary technician students, veterinary industry representatives, and public members.

    3f. Programs with agreements between two or more institutions are recognized. The institution accredited by the CVTEA is declared the parent (home) institution and grants the degree or certificate.

    3g. Communication and interactions with veterinary technician educator associations, veterinary medical associations, and veterinary technician associations should be maintained.

  4. Physical Facilities and Equipment

    4a. All aspects of the physical facilities used for primary learning must provide an environment conducive to learning and the achievement of the educational goals. Classrooms, teaching laboratories, and other teaching spaces shall be clean, maintained in good repair, adequate in number, appropriate in capacity, and provided with sufficient equipment to meet the instructional need and the number of students enrolled.

    4b. All clinical facilities for primary learning must emulate contemporary veterinary facilities. Standard types of laboratory and clinical equipment, consistent with those used in contemporary veterinary facilities, shall be provided. Programs must have access to all items listed in the Equipment and Instructional Resource List Appendix over the sum total of all primary learning sites.

    4c. Office space must be sufficient for the instructional, advisement, and administrative needs of the faculty, staff, and program.

    4d. Animal housing must be consistent with accepted humane standards and federal and state regulations. See 5b.

    4e. Safety of students, program personnel, and animals must be of prime consideration. Students must be educated on rabies risk prior to working with animals. Prior to live animal use, students must be vaccinated against rabies or the program must implement a comprehensive rabies mitigation protocol as described in Appendix A. Unvaccinated students shall only handle fully vaccinated and seroconverted mammals, with the exception of rodents and rabbits. (see Statement on Safety Appendix)

    4f. All use of drugs, biologics, reagents, and other materials used in conjunction with animal care must be in compliance with state and federal regulations including current dating and appropriate labeling. Materials used for demonstration purposes must be appropriately identified and stored. Controlled substances shall be stored and logged in accordance with state and federal regulations.

    4g. Waste management shall be appropriate for the needs of the program and consistent with regulatory agency requirements.

    4h. Storage must be sufficient for program needs.

  5. Resources for Clinical Instruction

    5a. Programs must follow all applicable federal and state regulations and guidelines for the care and use of animals utilized by the program. The CVTEA endorses the principles of humane care and use of animals as codified in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and requires programs to follow AWA regulations and policies with respect to all animal use. All animal activities conducted by a program must be reviewed and approved by an animal care and use committee whose structure and functions are in accord with AWA requirements. For animals not covered under AWA (rodents), husbandry standards must follow the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

    5b. Adequate numbers of common domestic and laboratory animal species are required to provide the necessary quantity and quality of clinical instruction to meet curriculum requirements without overuse of the animals or violation of AWA requirements for humane use and care. (see Use of Animals in Veterinary Technology Teaching Programs Appendix). Off-campus providers of instructional support must meet objective requirements set by the program with respect to animal resources.

    5c. Models and other alternate methods of teaching that are consistent with the goals of the curriculum must be considered to replace, reduce or refine animal use.

    5d. Records and logs for animals used by the program must be comprehensive and accurately maintained.

    5e. Off-campus providers of instructional support must meet objective requirements set by the program with respect to the physical facilities, staff, and available equipment. A memorandum of understanding or contractual arrangement, with appropriate exit strategies, must be established with all off-campus sites including, but not limited to, primary learning sites and veterinary practical experiences (externships/preceptorship), as outlined in Standard 10d, and distance learning sites.

    5f. If program staffed clinical veterinary services are offered, documented evidence must exist that clients are informed that student instruction is a major component of patient care. The primary purpose of such clinical veterinary services, regardless of animal ownership, must be teaching, not revenue generation.

  6. Library and Information Resources

    6a. Libraries and information retrieval are essential to veterinary technician education and continuing education. Timely access to current information resources pertaining to veterinary technology through print, electronic media, and/or other means must be available to students, faculty, and staff. Students must have access to a qualified resource specialist with library science education credentials.

    6b. Knowledge of quality information resources, library use and development and application of information retrieval skills must be included in the educational experience.

  7. Admissions

    7a. The institution and program admission policies must be well defined and documented.

    7b. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

    7c. Consideration of the qualifications of applicants for admission must include aptitude for, an interest in, and an understanding of a career in veterinary technology. The CVTEA recognizes that some institutions must perform under open admissions policies that prohibit selective entry into veterinary technician education programs. The development and consistent application of selective admissions standards may be helpful in admitting more qualified students, reducing attrition, and producing graduates who are most likely to succeed, and therefore should be implemented.

    7d. Catalogs, website, or other official publications must contain the institutional and programmatic purposes and objectives, admission requirements and procedures, academic offerings, degree granted, and program requirements for completion of the degree, including the existence of any technical standards. This information must include the length of time necessary for completion; policies with respect to satisfactory academic progress; policies on transfer of credits; tuition, fees, and other program costs; refund policies; and national and state requirements for eligibility for credentialing or entry into the field of veterinary technology.

    7e. The institution and program must demonstrate integrity and responsibility in student recruitment practices. Admission must be non-discriminatory and in accordance with federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations. Personnel who are knowledgeable about the program and its requirements should conduct student recruitment.

    7f. The program director or director's appointee should participate in the deliberations of the admissions committee and selection of students.

  8. Students

    8a. The number of students must be appropriate to achieve the mission of the program. Enrollment must not exceed the available resources including the number of faculty and support staff needed to meet the educational goals of the curriculum. An appropriate program personnel-to-student ratio must be maintained to ensure student safety and adequate delivery of instruction in program specific courses. Program personnel to student ratios shall not exceed 1:12 for laboratory courses without animals present and 1:8 for laboratory courses with animals present.

    8b. Student support services must be available within the institution for program students. Interactions between students and faculty/staff must be sufficient to communicate expectations for successful academic performance, provide feedback for improvement of skills and knowledge, and encourage professional growth and development.

    8c. Throughout the curriculum, students must be exposed to veterinary team concepts and appropriate modeling of ethical and professional behavior.

    8d. Students should be encouraged to form a student organization, and this organization should become an affiliate of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) and appropriate state veterinary technology associations. Students should be encouraged to be active in local, state, and national veterinary technician organizations.

    8e. The program must promote a learning environment that values diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

  9. Faculty and Staff

    9a. Faculty and staff numbers must be sufficient to deliver the educational program and meet the instructional goals of the program.

    9b. Instructors in the program must have knowledge and expertise in the topics they teach and promote the appropriate role of the veterinary technician in the veterinary health care team. Instructional duties must not violate local, state, or federal laws regarding the practice of veterinary medicine.

    9c. The program director must be a licensed veterinarian or a credentialed veterinary technician who must be a graduate of an AVMA or CVMA-accredited program. The program director must have the educational background and occupational experience appropriate to understand and fulfill program goals. The position of the program director should be full time with the institution.

    9d. The director must have the responsibility, authority, and support necessary to manage the program successfully. This shall be documented in a written job description that also shall clearly define the position of the director within the institutional hierarchy. The program director must be responsible for organizing continuous program review and development processes that assure program effectiveness. The program director's appointment must include sufficient time for administrative and teaching responsibilities as well as opportunities and support for professional development.

    9e. Each program must have one full-time credentialed veterinary technician who must be a graduate of an AVMA CVTEA or CVMA-accredited program. Each program must have a minimum equivalent of one full-time licensed veterinarian.

    9f. Academic positions must offer sufficient compensation, incentives, and employment security to attract and retain qualified personnel in order to maintain program stability. Faculty and staff must have sufficient time for development and delivery of instruction, curriculum development, student evaluation, student advisement and counseling, and professional development. Programs should provide financial support for veterinary professional development activities.

    9g. The institution must provide evidence that it evaluates program personnel regularly and assists and facilitates professional growth. Program personnel should be encouraged and financially supported to be participating members of local, state, and national veterinary professional associations.

  10. Curriculum

    10a. The curriculum must prepare graduates who will be fully capable of performing in a wide variety of professional roles within the veterinary field. At the completion of the curriculum, graduates must have attained entry-level skills needed to support companion animal, equine, and food animal practice, biomedical research, and other veterinary medical activities. The curriculum shall provide a foundation in veterinary technology that will prepare the student to successfully become credentialed and inspire the student to continue life-long learning. Opportunities should exist throughout the curriculum for students to gain an understanding of the important influences of diversity and inclusion in veterinary medicine.

    10b. The specific courses shall teach basic medical science, communication, critical thinking, decision-making, and clinical application skills. Integration of nursing, technical, and medical skills within the curriculum must use live animals. Whenever possible, animal nursing skills should be developed in a setting and under conditions that are a reflection of the manner in which graduates will use these skills.

    10c. The curriculum must include general education and specific veterinary technology course content. Required materials can be offered as complete course offerings or be integrated into courses involving more than one area of recommended material. Course objectives must be clearly communicated to the student through syllabi or other course documents. Course offerings to meet curriculum requirements must constitute a minimum of 60 semester credit hours (or equivalent).

    Applied mathematics
    Biological science
    Communication skills
    Fundamentals of chemistry

    Anatomy and physiology
    Anesthesia, including induction, monitoring, and instrumentation
    Animal husbandry, including restraint, behavior, species and breed identification, reproduction, sex determination, and human‑animal bonding
    Biosecurity-safety and security issues
    Clinical pathology and parasitology
    Communication/interaction skills with clients and colleagues
    Diseases, preventive medicine (including dentistry), and nursing of companion animals, food‑producing animals, horses, exotic species, and laboratory animals
    Economics in veterinary practice
    Ethics, professionalism, and legal applications in veterinary medicine
    Humane animal care and management
    Introduction to laboratory animal medicine
    Life-long learning concepts
    Medical terminology
    Microbiology and immunology
    Necropsy techniques
    Nutrition and principles of feeding
    Orientation to the profession of veterinary technology
    Pharmacology for veterinary technicians
    Principles of imaging, including radiography and ultrasonography
    Safety issues, consistent with the CVTEA Statement on Safety Appendix with course work emphasis on zoonoses and occupational safety.
    Surgical nursing and assisting, including instrumentation
    Technician utilization and team concepts of health care delivery
    Value of professional organizations
    Veterinary practice management

    10d. Practical veterinary experience that expands student knowledge and builds proficiency of acquired skills through task-specific exercises is a required portion of the curriculum. These experiences are usually termed preceptorships, practicums, internships, or externships. Practical experiences are for the purpose of honing skills learned in formal instructional settings and should be scheduled to occur following completion of skills acquisition. These practical experiences should be a minimum of 240 cumulative contact hours and must be monitored by the program director or the director's appointee who must be a program faculty or staff member who is either a licensed veterinarian or credentialed veterinary technician who is a graduate of an AVMA CVTEA/CVMA accredited veterinary technology program. Prior to the beginning of the practical experience, on-site supervisors must be contacted by the program. Students and faculty should seek progressive contemporary facilities that employ credentialed veterinary technicians to act as professional role models and mentors. During the practical experience, contact must be maintained with students and their on-site supervisors to monitor students' personal and educational experiences. It is highly recommended that such contact take place through personal visits and interviews by the program director or appointee. Specific criteria must be used to assist on-site supervisors in monitoring student progress. The program director or appointee shall review student performance evaluations by on-site supervisors, student evaluation of the experiences, and a final student performance evaluation.

    10e. Successful completion of all required skills found in the Veterinary Technology Student Essential and Recommended Skills List Appendix must be evaluated and documented, indicating date completed, by program personnel who use standard criteria that reflect contemporary veterinary practice. Program personnel evaluating skills should be a veterinarian or a credentialed veterinary technician who is a graduate of an AVMA CVTEA or CVMA-accredited veterinary technology program. Program personnel must have a signed agreement with the parent institution, complete training in evaluating essential skills, and regularly communicate with the program director. This agreement is in addition to any facility MOU required.

    10f.The CVTEA recognizes that a program may wish to emphasize certain areas within the curriculum to capitalize on regional variation, institutional strengths, and available job markets. This emphasis should be clearly stated in the mission statement/objectives of the program, and the curriculum shall then reflect that emphasis. A choice to emphasize one aspect of the curriculum must not interfere with the acquisition of all skills listed on the Veterinary Technology Student Essential and Recommended Skill Appendix.

    10g. The CVTEA recognizes that academic institutions have the inherent right to accept credits from other colleges, universities, recognized educational entities, or prior learning. However, if the program accepts veterinary technician-related course credit from institutions not accredited by AVMA CVTEA, the program must ensure that the rigor of transfer courses meets CVTEA Standards. Provision of prior learning must include documentation or critical evaluation of these experiences to award college credit or advanced standing. Documentation of the assurance may be requested for review during the program accreditation process.

    10h. At times, accredited programs are requested to give credit for high school courses with titles similar to those required for graduation from a CVTEA-accredited program. If credit is to be given for such courses, the student must first be required to demonstrate to veterinary technology program faculty a level of competency comparable to that of students who complete the required course successfully.

  11. Outcomes Assessment

    11a. The program must develop program-specific outcome assessment instruments that assist in determining attainment of the educational goals. Such instruments shall include, but are not limited to:

    • Attrition rates
    • Graduate surveys
    • Employer surveys
    • Pass rates and domain scores of the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) as compared to the average. Results from the VTNE are considered objective program-specific outcome assessment instruments.
    • Applicable state examination pass rates.

    11b. CVTEA expects the institution to encourage and support the program review and evaluation process for the outcomes of the educational program. The results of all outcome assessments must be used to improve the program. In absence of significant data from peer reviewed examinations, programs must develop objective means to assess student competency.

    11c. Programs must comply with VTNE reporting requirements. (see Reporting to the Community)

    11d. The program's three year rolling average VTNE pass percentage for first time test takers must be 50% or higher.