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Pursuing Your APR: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most-asked questions about the Universal Accreditation program.

What is Universal Accreditation? Top
A voluntary certification program for public relations professionals, recognized and supported by the Universal Accreditation Board’s (UAB) Participating Organizations.

What is the purpose of Universal Accreditation? Top
The purpose is to unify and advance the profession by identifying those who have demonstrated broad knowledge, experience and professional judgment in the field. The program seeks to improve public relations practice. The designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence.

Who governs the process? Top
The Universal Accreditation Board—comprised of one chairman and representatives from each participating organization dedicated to three-year terms—oversees the program. Providing a balanced blend of backgrounds in a number of public relations specialties, this group of senior-level Accredited members meets four times a year. Responsibilities of the UAB include:

  • Developing and implementing policy for the program
  • Developing and maintaining the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations
  • Overseeing the development of test questions and answer keys and ensuring content is based on the Body of Knowledge
  • Reviewing appeal cases
  • Granting Accreditation

Who is eligible? Top
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? Top
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 prepare to deliver a Panel Presentation to a committee of three Accredited professionals. The Panel will ask questions, review the portfolio and assess each candidate’s professionalism and preparedness to advance to the computer-based examination. Panel questions are designed to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities in 12 specific areas that cannot be effectively judged in the computer-based examination.

The process is designed to help candidates strengthen areas of weakness for further study before taking the exam. Candidates who are not advanced can request mentoring from their Panel before scheduling another Panel Presentation.

What’s in the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations? Top
The computer-based examination tests six groupings of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). The list below indicates the percentage of the examination devoted to each category.

  • Researching, Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Programs: 33%
  • Leading the Public Relations Function: 18%
  • Managing Relationships: 15%
  • Applying Ethics and Law: 13%
  • Managing Issues and Crisis Communications: 13%
  • Understanding Communication Models, Theories and History of the Profession: 8%

Candidates who advance from the Panel Presentation may take the computer-based examination at any Prometric testing facility in the United States. Candidates must schedule their exam within the Prometric facility.

Is Accreditation good for life? Top
Yes, with fulfillment of Maintenance of Accreditation 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 are exempt from the Maintenance requirement.

What is the fee to take the examination? Top
The fee for NAGC Members is $385. Professionals who take the APR exam under NAGC (not as members of their local PRSA chapter) will receive a reimbursement of $100 when they successfully pass the exam. Successful candidates are also presented with their APR pin at the annual Communications School.

Who do I contact for more information? Top

For more information, contact NAGC UAB Liaison Laura Kirkpatrick, APR.

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