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What Does NASPAA Accreditation Mean for Students?


What Is NASPAA Accreditation?

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) is an international organization that accredits Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs. NASPAA’s commitment to excellence and its rigorous accreditation process ensure that programs not only meet its high standards for academics but also promote the ideal of public service. Students seeking to earn an MPA should look into NASPAA-accredited programs like the Public Management track of Arkansas State University’s online MPA program.

What Does NASPAA Measure?

The NASPAA accreditation process guarantees that schools are managing their programs strategically. This includes creating and adhering to a programmatic mission statement which guides performance expectations and regular evaluation. NASPAA accreditation standards further ensure that schools are matching their governance and all operations with their programmatic mission — focusing on faculty performance, student services, student learning, resources and communications.

Initial accreditation requires institutions submit an eligibility application and conduct an intensive self-study report. Reviews and a site visit follow, leading to a final accreditation decision. Every year, accredited programs must submit a report to NASPAA that demonstrates ongoing self-evaluation, continuous improvement and commitment to each of the accrediting body’s standards. NASPAA collects this data and shares it with the public.

What Kinds of Data Does NASPAA Collect?

NASPAA gathers and publishes data on accredited schools in annual reports, covering topics like employment of grads, program diversity and inclusivity, admission rates and graduation rates.

Students considering advancing their careers with an MPA degree may find data on employment opportunities in public administration useful. For example, NASPAA collects data on the sectors in which graduates find jobs. The NASPAA Annual Data Report of 2019-2020 found that 51% of MPA graduates found jobs in the government, 20% in nonprofits and 19% in the private sector.

You can search NASPAA’s data reports for information on everything from financial aid statistics to enrollment and admission numbers. For instance, in 2019-2020, NASPAA-accredited MPA programs admitted 77% of applicants, on average, and 68% of admitted students enrolled. Of those who enrolled, 30% of students received financial aid. This can be critical information for students concerned about the affordability of MPA programs.

NASPAA benefits a variety of stakeholders in MPA programs. It sets standards for programs to meet and requires them to revisit their teaching methods and curriculum each year. Schools must also demonstrate their efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusivity, in line with the ideal for public service.

For employers, the NASPAA seal of approval goes a long way toward establishing the credibility of the education that potential candidates received. For students, NASPAA provides a valuable source of unbiased information that enables them to make informed decisions. When selecting a Master of Public Administration program, applicants would be wise to look for NASPAA accreditation.

Learn more about the Arkansas State University online Master of Public Administration in Public Management program.

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