Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)

Accredited in Public Relations APR gold and blue logoUniversal accreditation is a voluntary certification program for public relations professionals, recognized and supported by participating organizations, that seeks to improve the practice of public relations. Internationally recognized, accreditation in public relations (APR) integrates timeless communication principles with contemporary strategies and tactics. The process of earning your APR takes your skills to the next level by exposing you to today's cutting-edge strategies and practices, assessing your skills to identify strengths and opportunities for growth, and demonstrating your personal and professional commitment to excellence.  

Follow these five steps now to start preparing to earn your APR:

  1. Watch the APR Prep: Get Ready for Universal Accreditation information session hosted by the NSPRA Accreditation Committee. The recording is an hour long, but don't miss the last 20 minutes devoted to answering viewers' questions.
  2. Complete NSPRA's APR Interest Survey.
  3. Read testimonials from NSPRA members who have earned their APR.
  4. Get answers to the most common questions about accreditation
  5. Consult NSPRA's step-by-step guide to earning your APR (PDF). 

Interested in APR? Let NSPRA Know!

The NSPRA Accreditation Committee is available to help association members who have questions about the APR process, who are seeking a mentor and who want to be recognized by NSPRA for their APR achievements.

Complete the APR Interest Survey to let the committee and NSPRA know where you are in the APR process and how we can help.

My APR Experience: Member Testimonials

Picture and quote from Cindy Warner about her APRThe process of earning your APR takes your skills to the next level by exposing you to today's cutting-edge strategies and practices, by assessing your skills to identify strengths and opportunities for growth, and by demonstrating your personal and professional commitment to excellence. 

Read testimonials from accredited NSPRA members to learn about their journeys and how having an APR has impacted their professional lives.   

Accredited professionals: Share your APR testimonial via NSPRA's e-form to showcase your own journey and accomplishments, too! 

Frequently Asked Questions About APR

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 comprised 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 helps NSPRA members set up virtual or in-person panel presentations throughout the year. For assistance setting up a panel presentation, contact your regional representative on NSPRA's Accreditation Committee.

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. 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:

  1. Researching, Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Programs;
  2. Leading the PR Function;
  3. Applying Ethics and Law;
  4. Managing Relationships;
  5. Managing Issues and Crisis Communications; and
  6. Understanding Communication Models, Theories and History of the Profession.

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 paper work 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 organizationsGet 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 apr@nspra.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 Agricultural Relations Council, Florida Public Relations Association, Maine Public Relations Council, Public Relations Society of America, Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development, Southern Public Relations Federation, and Texas Public Relations Association.