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A Template for an Accreditation Process for University-Based Nonprofit and Philanthropy Programs

Renée A. Irvin


Given the robust growth of nonprofit programs in higher education over the past decades, prospective students now have many options for nonprofit programs, from high-quality programs with extensive nonprofit and philanthropy coursework, to programs with almost no nonprofit content, yet with nonprofit in the degree title. The presence of low-quality or even fraudulent programs creates a reputation risk to all programs in the nonprofit field. Accreditation—the result of the maturation of a professional field—provides a signal of quality to students when they select a university. Yet traditional accreditation processes are, for faculty and administrators, a burdensome drain on resources. I propose a streamlined process that examines issues of quality and critical mass of coursework for certificates and degree programs. The process would differ from traditional accreditation procedures, featuring coordination with accreditation processes in allied fields and the elimination of the site visit.


accreditation; nonprofit; philanthropy; university curriculum; truth in advertising

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