NASPAA Guidelines Regarding Membership And Accreditation

ADOPTED APRIL 24, 2009 by the Executive Council of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration

1. NASPAA Institutional membership is open to any eligible school/program in public affairs, anywhere in the world. The program has to sign and support the NASPAA code of good practice ( and be regionally accredited or its equivalent. (NASPAA is interpreting equivalent as being licensed or reviewed by the government as being permitted to confer degrees in public affairs/management/policy/admin.) An applicant submits their application and the NASPAA Executive Council applies the membership criteria to the applicant and votes to admit them to membership if they meet the criteria.

2. Institutional membership entitles a school or program to full privileges of NASPAA: the institution can vote at all business meetings of the Association; representatives of the school can be nominated to the Executive Council, serve on committees, and join sections; all marketing MPA/MPP materials and logos may be accessed, and so on. Institutional members may refer to their NASPAA membership in marketing materials on their website, but just as with domestic institutional members who have not completed the Accreditation Process, unaccredited non-US members must never state or imply that they are accredited.

3. NASPAA will continue to offer an International “Associate” Membership for non-U.S. programs who wish to indicate their support for NASPAA and its mission of advancing public service and quality in public affairs education but who do not wish to participate actively in NASPAA, its programs, and its governance. Associate membership has limited benefits, which include electronic access to the journal and participation in data projects and surveys.

4. COPRA, NASPAA’s accrediting body, is putting into place a new one year “Eligibility Process” that precedes the accreditation process. All NEW applicants, whether U.S. or non-U.S., will need to complete the Eligibility Process. This process is anticipated to open to a very limited number of applicants in November 2009, following adoption of the new standards in October 2009. The Eligibility Process is designed to make sure programs are qualified and ready, and that the process is appropriate for them.

5. Institutional membership is a necessary but not sufficient condition for participation in the Eligibility Process for accreditation. The Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA), will be accepting Expressions of Interest from non-U.S. programs seeking NASPAA accreditation, and they will be approving a small number of programs to come into the Eligibility Process, which is anticipated to begin in November 2009, and begin qualifying a few applicants to begin the Accreditation Process in 2010. (COPRA is limiting participation due to capacity issues, but it is also complying with a pilot project requirement of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, the source of NASPAA/COPRA’s recognition as an accreditor. If the number of interested programs exceeds COPRA’s capacity, COPRA will establish the criteria for selection into the eligibility process, and their decision is final. ). And all programs, whether US or non-U.S., must be an institutional member of NASPAA for at least a year prior to entering the accreditation process. (A program can participate in the expressions of interest and Eligibility processes without having completed a full year of institutional membership).

6. Programs that are not accepted into the Eligibility Process by COPRA, whether U.S. or non-U.S., are encouraged to remain NASPAA institutional members and to re-express interest when and if the program is ready. COPRA will continue to review expressions of interest, assuming the pilot project is converted to a permanent practice. Institutional membership should not be construed as a guaranteed “admission ticket” to accreditation.

7. A key clarification of NASPAA Executive Council policy is that the process will be NASPAA accreditation, for those programs closely identifying with American-style public affairs education and quality assurance, not international accreditation. NASPAA is pursuing an agreement to work with IASIA, the UN, The European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA), and other international bodies to develop an international quality assurance effort, especially for schools in developing countries.

Information on NASPAA Institutional Membership
NASPAA Institutional Membership Application Form

Please contact Laurel McFarland, NASPAA Executive Director, at or 202.628.8965 x 105 for additional information.