Accreditation in Public Relations

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The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), the Accreditation in Public Relations and Military Communications (APR+M), and the Certificate in Principles of Public Relations are voluntary certifications in the United States and Canada for persons working in the field of public relations (PR) and, in the case of the APR+M, military public affairs.

Approximately five percent of public relations practitioners in the U.S. and Canada hold one of the credentials. They are administered by the Universal Accreditation Board, an association of nine major public relations organizations.



The APR credential was established in 1964 as a certification program sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).[1] The PRSA continued to manage the program until 1998 when the Universal Accreditation Board - consisting of approximately 25 representatives from nine major PR professional societies — was formed as part of an effort to make the credential an industry-wide, instead of organization-specific, certification.[2]

Richard Edelman is among those who called for PRSA to eliminate the APR as a requirement to hold national office in the organization.

Support and criticism[edit]

The APR certification has been endorsed by some in the PR industry who feel it establishes a clear indicator of competence for those who possess it, separating "the contenders from the pretenders."[3] A 2005 survey found that accredited PR practitioners earn, on average, 20-percent more than those who lack accreditation.[4]

A 2003 textbook cites a survey of unaccredited PRSA members which found that 80-percent felt a sense of disenfranchisement from the organization as a result of preferences within the group given to those holding the APR. It also referenced feedback that the certification has been criticized over the low number of APR candidates who are able to successfully complete the requirements to earn the credential.[5] In 2019, 19 percent of all PRSA members are APR certified.[6]


APR and APR+M credential[edit]

The Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification is designed for public relations professionals with five or more years of industry experience, and who possess an undergraduate university degree or higher. To earn the APR, candidates first must be members in good standing of a UAB member organization and submit an application with APR fee. Once the application is approved, the candidate completes a written series of questions detailing their professional background and experience. The candidate is then interviewed by a panel of three current PR practitioners who hold the APR, during which time a portfolio of the candidate's past work is presented and reviewed. The final element is a computer-based examination covering key concepts in PR planning, relationship management, communications theory, legal issues, and professional ethics. Once granted, the certification is retained for life, contingent on completion of regular continuing education activities, and current membership in a UAB member organization.[7]

U.S. Marines at the PRSA 2010 "Digital Impact" conference in New York City. Since 2010, the UAB has offered the APR+M certification.

The Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communications (APR+M) credential is designed for members of the United States armed forces and civilian employees of the United States Department of Defense. Unlike the APR, membership in a UAB member organization is not a prerequisite to earn or maintain the APR+M, however, ongoing continuing education is required to maintain the currency of the certification.[8]

Certificate in Principles of Public Relations[edit]

Beginning in 2013, a certification called the "Certificate in Principles of Public Relations" has been offered by the UAB as an entry-level credential for those entering the PR field. The certificate is designed for university students within six months of graduating (before or after) in a degree-granting program in public relations. Candidates must have student-class membership in a UAB member organization, take a university-sponsored or online preparatory course, and pass a computer-based Examination on principles and theory of public relations.[9]

Universal Accreditation Board[edit]

The Universal Accreditation Board, which administers the APR, APR+M, and Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, is composed of approximately 25 public relations educators and practitioners appointed by the nine major public relations professional associations including the Public Relations Society of America, the National Association of Government Communicators, the Asociación de Relacionistas Profesionales de Puerto Rico, the Florida Public Relations Association, and the Religion Communicators Council.[10]

2024 Universal Accreditation Board Members [1]
Name PR Organization Position
Kristie Aylett, APR PRSA UAB Chair
Joy Carter, APR PRSA UAB Immediate Past Chair
Yolanda Stephen, APR PRSA UAB Vice Chair
Sharee Broussard, Ph.D., APR PRSA
Kenneth T. Hagihara, APR PRSA
LCDR Kara Lynn Handley, APR+M PRSA
Denise M. Hill, Ph.D., APR PRSA
Olga Mayoral-Wilson, APR PRSA
Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., APR PRSA
Ana Toro, APR PRSA
Carlos M. Rivera-Cuesta, APR ARPR
Christine Brainerd, APR CAPIO
Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC FPRA
Chris M. Gent, APR, CPRC FPRA
Nancy J. Roberts, APR MPRC
Ann P. Knabe, APR+M NAGC
Rebecca Villarreal, APR NSPRA
Terry Ryan, APR NSPRA
Ginny Hizer, APR RCC
Kristie Aylett, APR SPRF
Marian R. Faulk, APR SPRF
CDR Beth A. Teach, APR+M DoD Designated Liaison

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "With Accreditation Falling From Grace, PRSA Embarks on Effort to Enhance Profile and Prestige of APR Credential". Bulldog Reporter. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  2. ^ Heath, Robert (2010). The SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781412977807.
  3. ^ Wilson, Matt (30 May 2013). "Should PR pros get accredited?". Ragan's PR Daily. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  4. ^ Broom, Glen (2009). Effective Public Relations. Prentice Hall.
  5. ^ Sriramesh, Krishnamurthy (2003). The Global Public Relations Handbook. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9780805839227.
  6. ^ Detavernier, Jo. "Why Austin PR professionals should seek accreditation".
  7. ^ "APR: Accredited in Public Relations". APR: Accredited in Public Relations - Universal Accreditation Board • UAB. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  8. ^ "APR+M: Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communication". APR+M: Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communication - Universal Accreditation Board • UAB. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  9. ^ "Certificate in Principles of Public Relations". Universal Accreditation Board. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  10. ^ "About the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB)". APR: Accreditation in Public Relations - Universal Accreditation Board • UAB. Retrieved 4 November 2020.

External links[edit]