Become a Member
What is the purpose of Universal Accreditation?
The purpose is to unify and advance the profession by certifying those who demonstrate mastery of today's strategic communication practices and a commitment to lifelong learning and ethical standards. Accreditation in public relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence.
Who governs the process?
The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) administers the process for becoming accredited in public relations (APR) for its participating organizations, which includes NSPRA. Detailed information about the examination for accreditation and application form to become a candidate for accreditation may be obtained from the UAB website at www.praccreditation.org/apply/.
Who is eligible to apply as a candidate for Accreditation?
Members who hold professional-level memberships of participating organizations who are involved in the professional practice of public relations, or in the teaching or administration of public relations courses in an accredited college or university. It is recommended that members of participating organizations have at least five years of paid, full-time experience in the professional practice of public relations in some capacity as the examination is targeted at this level.
What does the examination for accreditation process entail?
Interested individuals must first apply to the UAB to become accepted as candidates for accreditation. Once approved, candidates have one year to complete the process; otherwise they must reapply.
The process requires candidates to complete a questionnaire and then present a portfolio to a panel of three accredited professionals. The panel will ask questions, review the portfolio and evaluate the candidate's knowledge, skills and abilities in 12 specific areas that cannot be effectively judged in the computer-based examination. The NSPRA Accreditation Committee, along with local SPRA chapters' APR chairs, can help NSPRA members set up virtual or in-person panel presentations throughout the year. If you think you're ready to present your case study to a panel, complete the APR Panel Presentation Request Form to notify the Accreditation Committee of your desire to schedule a panel presentation.
The panel presentation component is designed to help candidates strengthen areas of weakness for further study before taking the computer-based exam. Candidates who are not advanced by their panel (i.e., recommended to sit for the exam) can request mentoring from their panel before scheduling another panel presentation.
Once candidates have been advanced through the panel presentation, they may take the computer-based exam virtually or in-person at a Prometric testing facility. As of fall 2020, candidates have the option to take the examination for accreditation in public relations either in a Prometric Testing Center or remotely through Prometric’s ProProctor application. (UAB now offers a scored practice exam to help candidates prepare.) For a remote proctored exam, candidates must supply the computer with a camera, microphone and an internet connection and be able to install a lightweight app prior to the test event. (For information about both options, see www.prometric.com/pruab.) Candidates schedule their own exams with a Prometric facility.
Successful candidates who earn their APR will be mailed an APR pin by the UAB and can participate in NSPRA's pinning ceremony, which is held during the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement at the NSPRA National Seminar in July.
What's in the examination for accreditation in public relations?
The examination tests knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) in six objective areas that include:
What is the fee to take the examination?
The fee for NSPRA members is $385. NSPRA members who take the APR exam under NSPRA (not as members of their local PRSA chapter) will receive a reimbursement of $110 if they successfully pass the exam (limited to the first 20 candidates each year due to budget considerations). UAB will notify NSPRA when a member has successfully earned accreditation.
Is accreditation good for life?
Yes, with fulfillment of APR renewal requirements and continued professional membership in a participating organization. Every three years, accredited professionals must accumulate the required number of points in continuing education, professionalism or service categories as part of the Maintenance of Accreditation Program. This further strengthens the value of the APR credential and keeps professionals actively involved in the currents of the public relations profession.
(Note: members of participating organizations who became accredited prior to January 1, 1998, through previous individual accreditation processes such as NSPRA's ASPR program are exempt from the renewal requirement.)
How do I renew my APR?
The renewal for APR is similar to renewal certification for teachers in most states. It's up to individual members to complete the necessary requirements and paperwork and send documentation to the UAB. To renew the APR status, an individual must also maintain a professional-level membership in one of the participating organizations. Get more details at the UAB website.
How do I get more information?
For more information, visit the UAB website, contact your regional representative on NSPRA's Accreditation Committee or contact NSPRA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-519-0496.
What is the ASPR? Is it the same as an APR?
From 1976 until 1998, NSPRA conducted a professional development program that awarded Accredited in School Public Relations (ASPR) status to 139 members who passed rigorous written and oral tests on public relations theory and the practice of school public relations. On January 1, 1999, at the urging of its members and with approval from the NSPRA Executive Board, NSPRA closed its ASPR program and became one of the eight public relations organizations participating in the Universal Accreditation Program. The other participating organizations are the Asociación de Relacionistas Profesionales de Puerto Rico, California Association of Public Information Officials, Florida Public Relations Association, Maine Public Relations Council, National Association of Government Communicators, Public Relations Society of America, Religion Communicators Council and Southern Public Relations Federation.