Volunteer Opportunities: Peer Reviewers

COMTA relies on the expertise of volunteers for critical elements in the accreditation process – called “Peer Review and On-site Visit”. If you are interested in participating and believe you are qualified to serve in one of these capacities, please read the qualifications below.

General qualifications
Peer Review team members and site visitors are responsible for providing the Commission with verification of the documentation, practices and assertions of the institution or program seeking accreditation, as it relates to accreditation standards. All team members must be trained by COMTA in the standards and polices related to accreditation and agree to abide by the ethical principles maintained as part of the evaluation process.

Qualifications and expectations: Peer Reviewer

  • Current or recent involvement in training program or other experiences relevant to responsibilities of specific role of off-site review team.
  • Familiarity with COMTA Accreditation Standards and understanding of criteria needed to comply with those standards.
  • Dependability – can be counted on to be responsible in meeting obligations.
  • Objectivity – can remain focused on the Standards, setting aside personal views to evaluate the institution’s/program’s operation according to established criteria.
  • Communication skills – can interact in professional manner to obtain appropriate information.
  • Skilled in accurate recall, note taking and report writing.
  • Capable of deductive reasoning and logical analysis.
  • Respects confidentiality inherent in accreditation process.
  • Maintains a flexible, cooperative attitude.
  • Is physically able to fulfill responsibilities such as typing comments in a report and moving around the campus during the visit.
  • No individual may serve on a Peer Review team with the new standards of accreditation unless she/he has participated in the updated COMTA online training course (beginning August 2015).  Contact COMTA staff for your FREE discount code to complete the course(s) and continue as a reviewer.

Step-by-step guide to becoming a COMTA Peer Reviewer

  • Complete Site Reviewers Training Application Form.
  • Submit current resume, letter of application, references and signed Statement of Ethics. Email to info@comta.org or fax to 202-888-6787.
  • Await review of application materials by Commission staff. They will determine, based on qualifications and training workshop participation, whether applicant meets requirements for a COMTA Peer Reviewer. They also determine in which specialty areas applicant is qualified to serve.
  • Complete COMTA online training course or similar training event.
  • Become part of the pool of potential on-site visitors.

Peer Review Process

  • COMTA office maintains a list of potential review team members who have been approved by the Executive Director based on their credentials.
  • Notification of all on-site visits in the upcoming cycle is sent to potential team members, who respond with their availability for specific visits.
  • COMTA staff reviews the available team members and matches them with requirements of upcoming reviews. The review team is comprised of:

    • Management/finance specialist with knowledge of administration, business and finances, especially in the context of accreditation and financial aid compliance.
    • Administrative specialist with experience as an admissions representative, registrar, student advisor, or a supervisor of any of these roles. Compliance officers and others with general institutional accreditation experience are accepted.
    • Content specialist with specific knowledge about training needed for practice of massage therapy and bodywork or esthetics and skin care; experience as a practitioner is required.
    • Education specialist with experience as an instructor or professor, familiarity with syllabi, teaching methods, assessment of student performance and general expectations in academia for associate degree level programs if the applicant includes a degree program.
    • A Commission representative may also be a team member to advise on current standards of accreditation or special situations.
  • Prior to visiting the school, the team will review the Self-Study Report (SSR) submitted via the online submission system and hold a conference call to discuss any areas which may prompt more detailed questions during the on-site visit. This conference call may also include an additional reviewer who is training to become a Peer Reviewer.
  • In order to maintain high standards of impartiality and objectivity, every effort is made to ensure no conflicts of interest – real or perceived – exist. Site review team members are expected to refrain from participating in any visit where they would have a real or perceived conflict of interest. Since the COMTA office cannot be knowledgeable of all potential conflicts of interest, it is the responsibility of the applicant and proposed team members to notify COMTA if a specific nominee is unsuitable for a particular review. A list of all potential reviewers is sent to the applicant school or program, giving the applicant the opportunity to identify reviewers who may have a conflict of interest. Any objections of an applicant are taken into consideration when the slate of reviewers is drawn up. The applicant is then notified of the composition of the team.
  • The following situations are possible conflicts of interest:

    • Ownership of or employment at competing institutions/programs
    • Former employment by applicant
    • Family or friendship connections with operators of the institution/program
    • Close professional or personal relationship with staff/faculty members
    • Professional consulting relationships with applicant
  • On-site reviews are scheduled in coordination with applicant’s schedule, and on-site team members are notified.

Accreditation and Peer Reviewer Training
COMTA has created an online training course to familiarize applicants and reviewers with the Standards for Accreditation and common challenges presented by schools. All new reviewers must complete the online training courses COMTA 101 & COMTA 102. For more information about our training course, please see our Training/Webinars page.