Earn the Candidate for CO-OP® Designation

An individual who is practicing as an organizational ombuds and is limited in the strict adherence to the IOA Standards of Practice based on organizational requirements may be eligible for the Candidate for CO-OP® designation.

You MAY be eligible for the Candidate for CO-OP® designation if:

  • You are an academic ombuds who has been designated by your institution as a mandatory reporter under either Title IX or the Clery Act but are otherwise fully practicing to the IOA Standards of Practice
  • You hold a second role in your organization that is completely separate from your ombuds roles and is not a formal, regulatory role
  • Your program is not aligned to the highest levels within your organization, but you are otherwise able to fully practice to the IOA Standards of Practice

You MAY NOT be eligible for the Candidate for CO-OP® designation if: 

  • You have not been practicing as an ombuds, in an ombuds role, with an ombuds title or its equivalent for at least 2,000 hours over the past 4 years or if you have not passed the CO-OP® exam within the last three years
  • You hold a second role in your organization that is a formal, regulatory role
  • Your program is aligned to a compliance or regulatory function within your organization
  • You are practicing as an ombuds but your organization does not have an established ombuds program

Eligibility Requirements for Candidates for CO-OP®

Written Examination:  An applicant must have passed the written certification exam within three years prior to the date of receipt of the application for certification. There are no training, educational, or work experience requirements needed to register for and sit for the certification exam. The Candidate for CO-OP® application requires a copy of the certification exam results statement documenting the date of passing the examination. Passing the exam is only one piece of the process to become a Candidate for CO-OP®.

Education:  Candidate for CO-OP® requires a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution of higher education. Those who do not hold a bachelor's degree may submit evidence of a comparable university degree. The Eligibility Committee may also consider relevant professional experience or academic work in place of a bachelor's degree. Applicants may submit proof of relevant professional experience to the Eligibility Committee for individual consideration.

Work Experience:  Applicants must present evidence of experience working as an organizational ombudsman for one year or 2,000 hours within the four years prior to receipt of the application. Applicants must also have held the title of ombuds, ombudsman, or its equivalent* within the last four years and have performed the role of an organizational ombuds, listening to concerns, helping create options, weighing the pros and cons of various options with visitors, coaching, escalating, and providing other ombuds services.

Standards of Practice: Applicants for the Candidate for CO-OP® designation do not have to practice to all standards in all circumstances. Each applicant is considered on an individual basis and reviewed by the Eligibility Committee. The Eligibility Committee makes the final determination on granting the Candidate for CO-OP® designation.

*There are a number of different titles or names—ombudsman, ombudsperson, or ombuds being the most common—that are used by practitioners. While the use of one of these titles is preferred, an applicant will not be disqualified based solely on their title.

Application Process and Fees

All applicants for the CO-OP® designation must submit a complete application packet and pay the nonrefundable administrative application fee of $250 USD for IOA Members and $450 for Non-Members. The complete application packet consists of the online application form, proof of passing the certification exam, and any supporting documents. Any supplemental materials can be attached to the online application form or emailed to [email protected].

Complete Candidate for CO-OP®  Form

The Eligibility Committee may schedule an interview with the applicant and inform if any additional materials are required. The Eligibility Committee will endeavor to notify applicants of their final determination within six to eight weeks of receiving the complete application packet. Official notification of certification status will be sent to the applicant via email.

If approved, applicants will need to obtain 60 professional development hours (PDH) over the next four years for recertification. In order to assist in tracking PDH for recertification, we recommend downloading a copy of the PDH Tracking Sheet.


Candidate for CO-OP® Appeal Procedure

If an applicant for the Candidate for CO-OP® designation is denied by the Eligibility Committee, the applicant may appeal the decision. The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Appeals Committee within 30 days of receipt of notification of denial.

Completed appeals should be sent to:

Appeals Committee, IOA-Board of Certification
2150 N 107th St, Ste 330
Seattle, WA 98133 USA

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-206-209-5275

The appeal must contain a statement of why the individual believes that the denial was improper and must be accompanied by supporting documentation. The Appeals Committee will notify the candidate within seven business days of its receipt of the appeal and will endeavor to render a decision within a period of 30 days. The decision by the Appeals Committee will be final.

Download Candidate for CO-OP® Appeal Form