The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions is a branch of the NRPA that accredits college degree programs relating to all these topics. This is a form of specialty accreditation that only applies to specific programs within one of these fields of study and does not apply to the college as a whole. A college may seek this type of accreditation but should also have regional accreditation as well. Students hoping to work for the National Parks Service or a similar organization should attend a college or university with this type of accreditation.
What is Accreditation?
Students often question what accreditation is and how it can help them in the future. This is essentially a type of approval given to a school for the program(s) available. With accreditation from this organization, students can rest assured that they will develop the necessary skills for working in the hospitality industry and for the NPS. All colleges must go through an application process, which gives the organization the chance to look at the classes offered in that program, the professors teaching in the program and other factors.
How Can a College Seek Accreditation?
According to the official website of the COAPRT, colleges interested in gaining accreditation for a program of this type must submit a completed application, which is available as a PDF file. The application asks basic questions, including when the program started, the requirements the college has for students enrolled in these programs and whether it has regional or national accreditation. COAPRT will then do extensive research on the college itself to find out more about its professors, graduates and the feelings of students enrolled in its programs.
Beyond the Classroom
Accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions goes beyond the classes that students take and the work they do in their classes. It often applies to fieldwork experiences as well. Students enrolled in these programs may do an internship for Fish & Wildlife, the NPS or another government agency. The organization is part of the NRPA and can help students find opportunities within that department too. Students and teachers can sign up for online classes and conferences. Those who have an undergrad degree or are in an undergrad program even have the chance to take classes and become certified in unique fields.
Benefits of Accreditation
The benefits of accreditation apply to both students and colleges in general. Accreditation allows the college to advertise its hospitality programs as accredited and to provide students with resources they do not have access to in programs offered by other schools. Students will have the chance to network and form professional connections in that field. COAPRT also guarantees that students will follow a curriculum approved by that organization that teaches them the fundamentals and basics of working in parks services and other organizations after they graduate.
It can take months or longer for a college to put together a complete application and for COAPRT to go over that application, do its own research and make a final decision. The organization only accredits a small number of programs annually and requires that all colleges renew its accreditation as well. Accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions helps both students and professors in college programs.