ACSTH vs. ACTP vs. CCE: Understanding ICF Coach Training Accreditations

programme accreditation

During your research on the ICF coaching standards and credentials, you will encounter many abbreviations that are essential to understand and differentiate:

  • The first set of abbreviations is about the three ICF accreditations coaches can get: ACC, PCC and MCC.
  • The second set of abbreviations, which we are going to cover here, are for training programmes: ACSTH, ACTP and CCE.


For those of you who are at the beginning of your research into coach training, it is important to know that the ICF doesn’t provide training directly. They review and accredit third-party training providers, which will deliver a coach certificate or diploma that will enable you to apply to an ICF credential when you meet all the other requirements.

Coach training accreditations matter to you as a coach (whether you are novice or expert) because the training you choose impacts your own credentialing process. You will find below a summary of the 3 levels of ICF accreditations for coaches so you know what to research further if you need any additional information, and how to pick the appropriate training for you.

Approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH)

ACSTH-accredited programs are considered “à la carte” training programmes. Coaches can customise their training by registering for several ACSTH courses on topics they are interested in. For example, if a coach wants to learn more about neuroscience and mindfulness, they may do two 30-hour ACSTH trainings on these two topics. If you know what you want to learn about and want to take this route, be prepared to do a lot of research to find the right courses for you.

If you want a coaching course that offers a full programme, you’re in luck because many ACSTH programmes offer this type of training solution. “Full programme” means that you will just need to register for one course of minimum 60 hours for ACC (or 125 hours for PCC). Some of these programmes may also include Mentor Coaching.

Accredited Coach training program (ACTP)

Accredited Coach Training Programs are kind of the golden ticket of ICF-certified trainings. These courses are “all inclusive“: they are much longer (minimum of 125 hours), they have to include Mentor Coaching, and they usually train coaches on a more advanced style of coaching (at PCC-level).

These courses are usually more expensive than ACSTH because of the additional training hours. Another reason is that the credentialing process for ACC and PCC is much faster and easier for ACTP-trained coaches. If you already know you want to apply for PCC one day and you want to simplify the ICF credential process, ACTP programmes are for you.

Continuing Coach Education (CCE)

CCE-accredited programmes are aimed at coaches who want to advance and develop their knowledge on coaching-related topics. They are specifically aimed at coaches who want to renew their ICF credential.

Every 3 years, ICF-accredited coaches need to renew their accreditation if they wish to continue holding one. Within these 3 years, they need to have completed 40 hours of continuing education, regardless of the credential they are renewing.

Topics can be about core competencies for the most part. Some hours can be dedicated to personal development, coaching tools and assessments, business, etc. 


Before registering for a course, make sure you check the directory of ICF-accredited courses directly on the ICF website. Called the Education Search Service (ESS), it will allow you to find new training providers or to verify one.


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