Sport Sciences and Physical Education Accreditation

Schools in the USA

Sport Sciences and Physical Education Accreditation

Accreditation is a form of independent, professional certification that focuses on schools and programs in a particular field. Accreditation of the various programs that make up the category of sport sciences and physical education therefore assures you and your parents that the institution adheres to high quality standards. Which means the programs are delivered by qualified faculty and are constantly updated to follow the changes and meet the needs of the relevant industry or working world. A degree or other credential from an accredited institution or program can help make you more competitive on the job market, and in some cases may be required for professional practice.

Accreditation in the US takes place at different levels. At the highest level, the US Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA) and the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) grant power to associations that oversee accreditation at the regional, institutional or program level.

  • Regional: The US Department of Education recognizes 6 distinct higher educational regions, each of which is overseen by a different accrediting body. This is the type of accreditation most commonly referred to and is for an institution as a whole, not for individual programs. Accreditation by these regional agencies isn't automatic: this is voluntary accreditation.

  • Institutional: Depending on the kind of institution it is (e.g., private, public, community, career, Christian, online, etc.) it may also be accredited by institute-type specific agencies. America's colleges and universities are very different in character and in the programs they offer. Therefore a school may be accredited by one or more organizations.

  • Specialized: Specialized accreditation focuses on specific areas of study and individual programs. This is sometimes called professional accreditation, because it means specific programs meet the national standards for that field of study. The category of sport sciences and physical education covers a range of program areas, and each institution usually has a page on its website listing both institutional and individual program accreditation.

    When assessing quality, you can also look at whether a school or program has any memberships in, or endorsements by, professional associations which reflect certain standards of quality, but this is not the same as official accreditation. For instance, the American Kinesiology Association does not accredit programs, but is a national organization committed to maintaining and promoting the quality of academic kinesiology and kinesiology-related higher education departments.

    Recognized Regional Accrediting Agencies
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

  • Accreditation Agencies
    Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
    Established: 2006 (formerly was the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Athletic Training (JRC-AT))
    Location: Round Rock, Texas
    Scope: Responsible for the accreditation of professional (entry-level) Athletic Training educational programs. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), and National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), work collaboratively with CAATE to develop the program standards. CAATE is currently not recognized by CHEA, but has applied to become member of Association of Specialized Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

    National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)
    Established: 1974
    Location: Reston, Virginia
    Scope: As part of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), NASPE works with the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to provide program review for college and university physical education teacher education.

    NASPE also encompasses and works with several other program-specific bodies, including:
    • The National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE), which reviews the quality of coaching education programs.

    • The Sports Management Program Review Committee (SMPRC), which, with the American Society for Sport Management (NASSM), approves undergraduate degree programs in sports management.

    • The American Association of Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR): together they work as part of the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES).
    Some Program-Specific Accrediting Agencies
    National Recreation and Park Association / American Association of Leisure and Recreation's Council on Accreditation: Approves academic programs in colleges and universities that prepare new professionals to enter the field of recreation, park resources, and leisure services.

    The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB): Accredits bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in business administration, which may include programs in sport management.
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