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 the Purpose of Accreditation?
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 the field.
What is COAPRT?
The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation,
Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT), formally established in
1974, accredits baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation, tourism, sport
management, event management, therapeutic recreation, and leisure studies
offered at regionally accredited institutions within the United States and its
territories, and at nationally accredited institutions in Canada, and Mexico. 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?
Undergraduate baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation,
tourism, sport management, event management, therapeutic recreation, and leisure
studies 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 field.
What are the Standards?
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. The learning outcomes presented in Standard 7.0
series are designed to elicit evidence of student learning in the Program's
foundation areas including a) historical, scientific, and philosophical
foundations; b) design, implementation and evaluation of park, recreation and
human service experiences; and c) operational and strategic management of
organizations in parks, recreation, tourism, and related professions.
How Do Programs Get Accredited?
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
Who Pays for Accreditation?
The 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
What is the Difference Between Accreditation and Certification?
"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
the COAPRT accreditation process? Please submit your question or comment via the
online form and someone
will be in contact with you.