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Does NASPAA Accreditation Matter?

There are a number of advantages for public affairs schools in the United States and abroad that become accredited by NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration). Founded in 1970, the nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. promotes excellence in education for public service. NASPAA accreditation is a strict, peer-review, quality-assurance process for master’s degree programs in public policy, public affairs and administration — both Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy degrees. Essentially a stamp of approval, the NASPAA accreditation process legitimizes, maintains and enhances the value and reputation of graduate public service degrees around the world.

What Is NASPAA Accreditation?

Institutions of higher education voluntarily undergo a process to meet a rigorous set of requirements and quality standards to earn NASPAA accreditation. This demonstrates to the public that these schools are committed to giving students the very best public service education. It also ensures that employers get the most highly skilled and professional employee candidates.

Accreditation assessments may include self-study reports and annual program surveys by the institution. Accreditation may also require peer evaluations to assess whether or not the institute is providing quality education.

There are many accrediting agencies in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit colleges and universities, but it does maintain a database of accrediting agencies. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is another invaluable resource for information about accrediting agencies.

What Does Accreditation Mean?

NASPAA accreditation ensures that accredited programs, such as an online MPA program, show students, peers and the public that they are providing a high level of education. Accreditation also gives colleges and universities a way to assess their own performance and compare themselves to other schools.

A NASPAA-accredited online MPA program highlights the competencies and knowledge graduates have achieved and can offer in future public service careers. Students in accredited institutions are eligible for federal financial aid, which can help them complete their degrees and obtain public service employment after graduation.

The benefits of a degree in today’s job market are tremendous. In many fields, a graduate degree is a necessity, and a degree from an accredited school is essential — many employers will not hire graduates from an unaccredited school.

According to the fourth annual snapshot on NASPAA accredited programs, the 2013-14 Accreditation Data Report, more than half of accredited programs reported less than a 1 percent unemployment rate. Before choosing a school, it is vital for students to know if it is accredited, who accredits it and what accreditation can mean for their future careers.

Learn about the A-State online MPA program.


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