Higher Education Accreditation

students in a library talking quietly

Want to discuss the benefits of Accreditation with people who are familiar with the process or are in a program?

Join the conversation in the Higher Education or Guidelines for Excellence eePRO groups! 

Preparing environmental educators who possess the knowledge and abilities to provide high quality education to diverse audiences in various settings is one of NAAEE's most important activites. Regardless of the setting—whether rural, suburban, or urban areas, environmental educators need practices and materials that effectively foster a high standard of environmental literacy.

NAAEE’s Accreditation process provides third-party, standards-based recognition of high quality higher education programs that engage in the preparation and professional development of environmental educators. 

What is the Accreditation process?

Accreditation is based on criteria in Professional Development of Environmental Educators: Guidelines for Excellence, and requires the submission of a Self-Study Audit.

Accreditation Applications Forms

  1. Cover Sheet 
  2. Review Check List
  3. Program Data
  4. Self-Study Audit Report
  5. Table 4
  6. Program Review Rubric

Some Examples to Use as Illustrative Models

  1. Table 3
  2. Table 4
  3. Appendices (Sample rubrics referenced in Table 4)

For Accreditation to be awarded, a panel of NAAEE-trained environmental education professionals review and approve the Self-Study Audit. Accreditation encourages and recognizes excellence, and facilitates in-depth, continual assessment and improvement of EE preparation & professional development programs in higher education institutions. Participation in the Accreditation process benefits the field of environmental education as a whole, allowing us to:

  • Expand our knowledge base by documenting and recognizing highly effective environmental education programs;
  • Share best practices, enriching all programs and the profession;
  • Leverage continued growth and development of environmental education programs; and
  • Celebrate exemplary environmental education programs.

What are the benefits of Accreditation?

In addition to the honor of earning Accreditation, participating in NAAEE’s Accreditation program and completing the Self-Study Audit provide important opportunities to:

  • Measure program outcomes and performance against well-accepted environmental education criteria;
  • Use the evaluation and reflection process for evidenced-based program improvement;
  • Revisit, revise, and clarify program goals, objectives, and implementation strategies; and
  • Document program successes credibly and communicate these successes to stakeholders.

A standards-based recognition system helps programs and institutions:

  • Attract and retain students;
  • Provide evidence of excellence for employers, funders, and donors;
  • Document program impact for university-wide reviews;
  • Demonstrate to the public, governing boards, and others that the program is using best practices and preparing well-qualified graduates; and 
  • Assure alumni and other supporters that the program maintains high standards.

Who should apply for Accreditation?

Due to the unique nature of environmental education, Accreditation is open to all college/university environmental education programs that meet the NAAEE Professional Development of Environmental Educators: Guidelines for Excellence. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • College/university undergraduate and graduate environmental education majors;
  • Environmental education minors;
  • Environmental education certificate programs; and
  • Other cross-disciplinary or integrated studies programs. 

Accreditation examines both the alignment of a program to the Guidelines and the assessment of participants against those same Guidelines. Therefore, assessment data for at least two years must be provided for proper Accreditation. New programs should wait to submit their Self-Study Audit until they have at least two years of available assessment data. 

Watch a short overview of the process and download the Accreditation Manual and Accreditation Application Forms.

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