WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is a status granted to an institution, program, or other
entity that meets stated criteria of quality. In the United States,
accreditation of professional preparation curricula is conferred by
non-governmental bodies, which are often closely associated with professional
associations in the field. The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation,
Tourism and Related Professions is such a body.
Accreditation is voluntary. Applications for accreditation may be
submitted by any institution offering a four-year curriculum in recreation,
park resources and leisure services education. Various factors enter into a
program's decision to seek this status. Students considering the broad field of
parks and recreation should investigate individual academic programs in detail
to determine which ones meet their individual needs.
WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE?
Accreditation has two fundamental purposes:
- to assure quality
- to assure
It cannot guarantee the quality of
individual graduates or of individual courses, but it gives reasonable
assurance of the context and quality of the education offered. A
further benefit to the accredited program is broader recognition in the
academic community and the professional field. Employers can be assured that
graduates of accredited programs are fully qualified for entry level positions.
Students from accredited programs are eligible to sit for the Certified Park
& Recreation Professional (CPRP) examination, a recognized credential in
WHAT IS THE COAPRT?
The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation,
Tourism and Related Professions, formally established in 1974, conducts the
process of accreditation for recreation, park resources and leisure services
curricula. Read or download the COAPRT Bylaws. The Council meets twice annually to review
accredited programs, to revise and update the standards for accreditation and
the procedures for program review, and to conduct the business of the Council.
The 10 members include educators, practitioners and a public representative. View a list of the current Council members. The Council was first recognized by
the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) in 1986 and is now in the
process of completing its third review by the Council for Higher Education
Accreditation, (CHEA), successor to COPA. As a CHEA-recognized accrediting
body, the Council meets specific procedural and organizational criteria
necessary for effectively conducting the accrediting process.
WHO GETS ACCREDITED?
baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation and leisure services are eligible
to apply for accreditation. At present, no accrediting program exists for
two-year programs or for advanced master's and doctoral programs in the
WHAT ARE THE
The standards for park, recreation and
leisure services curriculum accreditation are descriptive statements of quality
concerning both organization and operation of the academic program, and the
program content students are required to be taught.In their entirety,
the standards cover faculty, philosophy and goals of the academic unit,
students, administration, instructional resources, foundation understandings,
and professional competencies.Professional competency standards include
conceptual foundations assessment, planning and evaluation, leisure services
profession, legislative and legal aspects, leisure services delivery systems,
field experiences, programming strategies, and
HOW DO PROGRAMS GET
The process of accreditation is
rigorous and lengthy. An institution seeking accreditation first submits to the
Council a Preliminary Application indicating its intent to pursue accredited
status and the support of its administration for doing so. The Formal
Application notifies the Council that it is ready to proceed with the process.
The program develops an extensive Self Study, hosts an on-campus team of COAPRT
visitors, receives and responds to a written report of the team's findings, and
is finally reviewed by the Council, which determines the accreditation status
and any follow-up actions the program must take to maintain it. Every five
years a similar review process is completed, and annual update reports are
submitted during the interim years. Thus accreditation is an ongoing process of
self-review and peer review by outside evaluators.
Visitation teams include both educators and practitioners. These
individuals qualify by meeting both academic and experiential criteria and
completing a training course and periodic refresher courses.
WHO PAYS FOR ACCREDITATION?
cost is shared between NRPA and the accredited programs. Each institution pays
application and annual maintenance fees plus the full cost of hosting the
on-site team and appearing before the Council. NRPA, as the administrative
sponsor, underwrites a significant percent of the overall cost of maintaining
the Council and its activities.
WHAT IS THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCREDITATION AND CERTIFICATION?
term "accreditation" applies to institutions, programs or other entities, as
opposed to "certification," "registration," and "licensure," which apply to
In the park and recreation field,
certification is linked to accreditation: students of accredited park and
recreation academic programs are eligible to sit for the Certified Park &
Recreation Professional examination prior to graduation, while those from
non-accredited programs must be fully employed in the field for a minimum of
two years before becoming eligible.
Certification Board grants Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
status to qualified applicants. This certification is becoming ever more widely
known and valued by employers as a professional credential. Students and
potential students should become well informed early about this certification
and its implications for their professional future.
Do you have a question/comment or would you like to provide feedback regarding the COAPRT accreditation process? Please submit your question or comment via the online form and someone will be in contact with you.