Open Letter Regarding NASPAA Accreditation
Dear MPA students, alumni, and community stakeholders:
As many of you may know, Boise State’s MPA program has been independently accredited by the Network of Schools for Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) since the early 1990s. Over the last three decades, NASPAA accreditation has served us well in terms of setting a high academic standard, aligning our program goals with the overall ethos of public service, creating connections with other MPA programs, and building legitimacy. NASPAA membership and accreditation does come with its cost, both monetary and administrative, that at times monopolizes our limited resources. One of the most pivotal issues that is continually presented though is that NASPAA’s guidelines create an institutional barrier to innovation. Given that Boise State and the School of Public Service have spent years cultivating a culture of innovation, this has been a particularly vexing issue as we try to develop new and creative ways of training our students and serving our community.
Over the past two years, the MPA faculty has undertaken an extensive process to research, analyze, and debate the pros and cons of NASPAA accreditation for our program. We have gathered feedback from faculty, students, administrators, and employers. After weighing the evidence and considering the arguments for and against, we have come to the conclusion that the costs of NASPAA accreditation outweigh the benefits for our program. Thus, we will not be renewing our membership for the 2020-2021 academic year. This is an important step for our program as we fight to prepare our students and serve our community in a quickly changing world with new emerging challenges.
For students and alumni, your degree will be just as valuable as it is today! Our faculty is firmly dedicated to building on the high-level of educational quality that has been well-recognized by our past and current students, community members, and peer programs. In order to do this, we will reinvest the resources that were previously earmarked for NASPAA into our program. Over the next year, we will be engaging with students on how best to do this, and where resources will have the biggest impact in preparing them for a career in public service. Furthermore, we will use this opportunity to continue to explore programming innovations, such as new graduate certificate programs, an accelerated degree program (i.e., 4+1), and ways to bridge the gap between academic training and professional development, as well as high impact practices that improve both the student experience and contribute to our community, such as applied projects and student research, networking events, community outreach, and career planning workshops.
– Luke Fowler, Ph.D.