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Arkansas State University

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 (the 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 the institute is providing quality education.

There are many accrediting agencies in the United States. NASPAA’s Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA) is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the premier national organization focused on quality assurance in higher education accreditation. NASPAA-COPRA is also a member of the Association for Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) as well as the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).

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.

NASPAA accreditation further demonstrates a degree program’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity and cultural competence. 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 NASPAA’s 2019-2020 Accreditation Data Report, NASPAA accredited programs reported a 3 percent unemployment rate for graduates. This is notable, considering graduates that year were impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on employment. 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 Arkansas State University online MPA program.

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