Accreditation

Accreditation Links:

For Code of Ethics, Application Form, Downloadable Study Guide and Readiness Review: click here.

PRSA offers many educational opportunities, including local, regional and national workshops, seminars, Web casts and resources. Please check the local and national sites for upcoming opportunities.

One of the most important programs PRSA offers is its accreditation program. APR is a mark of distinction for public relations professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice, and who are selected based on broad knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment. Earning the APR certification proves you have successfully demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively in today's business arena. Click here to view the PRSA Code of Ethics.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Universal Accreditation Program

Q: Who Administers the Accreditation program?
A:
The Accreditation program is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of 10 leading industry organizations, including PRSA.

Q: Who can pursue the APR?
A:
Any PRSA member in good standing can take on the challenge of earning Accreditation. However, it is recommended that candidates have at least five year's experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations and who have earned either a bachelor's degree in a communication-specific field (e.g., public relations, journalism, mass communication) or have equivalent work experience, which includes public relations principles, public relations writing, public relations campaigns, research, ethics and law and internship (practical experience under supervision).

Q: What steps are involved?
A:
1. You must complete an application form -- that lets the UAB gauge your full-time public relations experience. 2. Once your application is approved, you must schedule a Readiness Review, which is a face-to-face review by three APRs to determine whether you have a grasp of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to pass the comprehensive examination. 3. Prior to the Readiness Review, you must complete a Readiness Review Questionnaire -- that addresses: your organization and position in public relations; overall experience; and assessment of readiness to pass the computer-based written examination. 4. Successfully pass a Comprehensive Examination that is administered at numerous testing centers around the nation.

Q: What is the cost?
A:
The cost is $385. PRSA members receive a rebate of $110 upon completion of the computer-based Examination.

Q: When should I start the process?
A:
It's best to begin seeking Accreditation when you can commit the time, energies and resources to completing the entire process.

Q: How long does the process take?
A:
It varies based on the individual and the number of applicants in your area. Once your application is approved, you have one year to complete the Readiness Review and take the computer-based Examination.

Q: What is the Computer-based Examination like?
A:
The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations is computer-based and administered at Thompson Prometric Testing Centers throughout the United States. There are Prometric centers in most major cities. You'll have three hours and forty-five minutes to complete the Examination. This time includes 10-15 minutes optional break for candidates. A few weeks after the Examination, you'll receive notification on your results.

Q. How can I prepare for the Examination?
A:
A downloadable study guide is available. Contact the Colorado PRSA Accreditation chair to learn more about how to prepare and what local resources, such as preparation courses, are available. An online, self-study course also will be available for an additional fee.

Q: What is the Readiness Review?
A:
The Readiness Review is a one- to two-hour interview and portfolio presentation that determines whether your Readiness Review panel will recommend that the UAB advance you to the written examination. It includes a lengthy and detailed written Readiness Review Questionnaire submission, a portfolio review and an assessment of your readiness to take the Examination. To apply for the Readiness Review, you must send complete an eligibility form and pay a $25 application fee. The Readiness Review panel (comprising three accredited members) will coach you to help you to identify areas in which your preparation is not adequate for success in the written examination. The panel also will help to direct you to specific areas of the body of knowledge in which you should focus further study before taking the written portion of the Examination. The Readiness Review panel also will give you a specific set of textbook references related to these areas. Remember, you may not take the written examination until the Readiness Review panel recommends that you advance past the Readiness Review .

Q: What if I am not advanced after the Readiness Review?
A:
Go back and study the areas that you and your Readiness Review panel agreed are areas where you need strength. Review the tips for preparing for the Readiness Review and continue to study for the written portion of the Examination as you prepare to request another Readiness Review. (You must wait at least 90 days after your first Readiness Review to request another.)

Q: How will I know if the Readiness Review panel has recommended my advancement to the examination?
A:
You will be notified by the UAB as to how it has responded to the recommendation of your Readiness Review panel to advance or not to advance you to the written portion of the Examination.

Q: Once I earn Accreditation, is it good for life?
A:
Yes, but only if you fulfill the Maintenance of Accreditation requirements. Every three years, PRSA members accredited after January 1, 1993, must accumulate the required number of points in continuing education, professionalism or service categories as part of the Maintenance of Accreditation Program. Members of Partner Organizations accredited after January 1, 1998, need to maintain as well. This further strengthens the value of the APR credential and keeps professionals actively involved.

Q: Can a multiple-choice examination be as accurate in testing knowledge, skills and abilities as the existing examination?
A:
Yes. Multiple-choice examinations eliminate subjectivity in scoring and achieve consistency with best practices in certification examinations. The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations has been developed according to the best practices in professional certification testing. Content is directly tied to the Professional Practice Analysis conducted in 2000. The Examination is reliable and valid and can differentiate those candidates who have attained professional mastery from those who have not.
According to Educational Testing and Measurement by Kubiszyn & Borich, with the multiple-choice format:
*Higher-level knowledge can be tested with well-written multiple choice items.
*Since writing is minimized, a substantial amount of material can be evaluated in a short period.
*Scoring is highly objective, which allows for more reliable results.
*Cost of evaluating the exam is significantly reduced.
*Efficiency of evaluating the examination and reporting scores increases.

Q: How does the Examination test what public relations professionals do today?
A:
In developing the new examination, the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) used a complex, multi-year scientific process to ensure that the Examination measures the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities public relations professionals must have today. Following the Professional Practice Analysis in 2000, in the second phase of re-engineering the UAB-recruited, subject-matter experts to review the data from the practice analysis and organize it into more refined categories for the public relations profession. As a result, the UAB decided on a final list of 60 competencies that a public relations professional must possess to perform his or her work effectively.

Q: Not every PR practitioner does the same thing on the job. How does the Examination account for that?
A:
The UAB recognized that not all 60 competencies contribute equally to effective job performance. It was important to determine differences in the frequency, criticality and importance of the competencies to job performance in order to develop an accurate certification examination. This was accomplished with the Practice Analysis and an additional survey of subject matter experts. The Examination tests only competencies that the experts say are required in the five-to-seven-year range.

Following are the 10 areas of professional practice the Examination will cover:

  • Research, planning, implementing and evaluating programs - 30 percent

  • Ethics and law - 15 percent

  • Communication models and theories - 15 percent

  • Business literacy - 10 percent

  • Management skills and issues - 10 percent

  • Crisis communication management - 10 percent

  • Media relations - 5 percent

  • History of and current issues in public relations - 2 percent

  • Using information technology efficiently - 2 percent

  • Advanced communication skills - 1 percent

Want more information on Accreditation?

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions. Please contact http://www.praccreditation.org.org for comprehensive information. Or, you may contact any member of the UAB or the Universal Accreditation Department at PRSA at (212) 460-1436 or accred@prsa.org.