The College of American Pathologists (CAP) Laboratory Accreditation Program is unlike any other. It's an engaging, dynamic, collaborative process that fosters an environment of continuous improvement.

It's more than making the accreditation process less stressful—it's learning about emerging best practices across every aspect of laboratory services and finding ways to apply those learnings to improve your laboratory's performance in every area.

The roadmap to accreditation and a high-quality laboratory

We simplify the compliance process with 21 discipline-specific, annually updated checklists that outline the steps for a smooth inspection and accreditation. These checklists:

  • Reflect input from more than 500 pathologists and other experts.
  • Provide a clear roadmap, written in easy-to-understand language, for not only achieving accreditation but also for running a high-quality laboratory.
  • Include notes, references, and practical examples to further clarify the requirements and facilitate compliance.

Before an inspection, we create a custom checklist specifically for your laboratory based on your exact testing menu, so you and the inspection team both know what's being inspected and so there are no surprises.

Your path to laboratory excellence—College of American Pathologists accreditation programs

The power of peer review

The CAP's Laboratory Accreditation Program is built on a unique, reciprocal, peer-based inspection method that benefits both the laboratories being inspected and the laboratories providing the inspection teams. Our inspection teams:

  • Are trained, practicing laboratory professionals who understand the workflows and challenges you face because they face them every day as well.
  • Have the opportunity to observe and learn from a variety of laboratory environments and exchange best practices to ensure patient safety and care.

We match our inspection teams to laboratory size and scope of services. Specialty inspectors join the team for specific highly complex disciplines such as molecular pathology, cytogenetics, and next-generation sequencing.

Year-round education

Education is a core component throughout every step of accreditation with the CAP. That's why we offer multiple complimentary resources to help laboratories and inspection teams.

  • Focus on Compliance webinars
    Dive deep into the current state of regulatory requirements and explore best practices that lead to improved laboratory operations.
  • Fast Focus on Compliance mini-training vignettes
    Prepare for future laboratory inspections by using real-world scenarios to gain a clear understanding of the requirements.
  • Inspection team training
    Prepare inspection team leaders and team members with training that's eligible for Continuing Education (CE)/Continuing Medical Education (CME)/Self-Assessment Modules (SAM) credit.

Specialty accreditation programs

The CAP also brings its unique and rigorous accreditation model to other areas where high-quality results are needed:

  • Reproductive Laboratory Accreditation Program
  • Biorepository Accreditation Program
  • Forensic Drug Testing Accreditation Program
  • CAP 15189 Accreditation Program

To see the full spectrum of our accreditation programs, view our brochure.

Your continuous cycle for laboratory quality

Be confident from application to completion as we connect you with experts in laboratory accreditation. We provide the tools and guidance you need so you can focus on what matters most—patient care.

Accreditation process and timelines
accreditation cycle


  1. Request application
  2. Review welcome kit
  3. Complete application

Timeframe: 1—12 weeks

  1. Receive customized checklists
  2. Schedule inspection date**
  3. Host inspection day
    (Aniversary date)

Timeframe: 13—24 weeks

  1. Respond to deficiencies within 30 days
  2. Support CAP review of responses
  3. Receive certificate of accreditation

Timeframe: 35—52 weeks

  1. Perform self-inspection

    Maintain continuous compliance

    Go to Step 3 to reapply
    (7 months before Anniversary Date)

Timeframe: Year 2

Accreditation with the College of American Pathologists—10 Steps on the path to laboratory excellence

Identify potential accreditation gaps

Before applying for accreditation, you may purchase our master checklists to determine your readiness. If you purchase the checklists and apply for accreditation within six months, we will waive the application fee.

Purchase a checklist

Accreditation readiness assessment

The CAP Accreditation Readiness Assessment (CARA) is an optional on-site evaluation and educational program that shows how prepared your laboratory is for the CAP's accreditation process.

Get more information about CARA

It's more than accreditation—
it's the opportunity to be your best

Only the CAP offers a rigorous, peer-based, and constantly evolving solution for laboratory accreditation. We support you through every step of the process—and provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with other laboratories—as inspectees and inspectors.

Your Accreditation Paths

If you are ready to apply, submit our accreditation program application form and get on your path to accreditation.

Not sure how to start the accreditation process? Tell us about your laboratory and request a quote by submitting a fee estimate form—one of our accreditation specialists will contact you about cost and next steps to become CAP accredited.

Have a general question about our accreditation programs?