2019 Self-Study Instructions Released

December 10, 2019
2019 Self-Study Instructions

Dear Colleagues,

The Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA) is pleased to release the 2019 Self-Study Instructions. The Instructions culminate a two-year conversation about growth in public service education and reflect revisions intended to sharpen our expectations for student learning and renew our commitment to global public service.

To those of you that provided feedback from your own self-study process, participated in colloquia and surveys, or provided comments on the draft version of the 2019 Standards, thank you for helping NASPAA and COPRA make the accreditation process and Self-Study Report more valuable. 

Specifically, the 2019 release incorporates the changes to the NASPAA Accreditation Standards approved by accredited programs on October 18, 2019, as well as program and site visitor feedback on the implementation of the Standards. As the below highlights detail, the 2019 changes reflect clarifications and adjustments, which are intended to make the Self-Study process more meaningful and accessible to participating programs. 

Together, the 2019 Standards and Self-Study Instructions address areas for growth at the center of the revisions process by:

  • integrating global public service values such as transparency, accountability, inclusion, and participation, 
  • strengthening commitment to cultural competency and equity, while retaining the flexibility to accredit in different contexts, 
  • affirming nonprofit management as fundamental to public service education, 
  • providing new instructions and guidance to support strategic program management, namely program evaluation and student learning assessment, and
  • reflecting critical trends in competencies, as public servants require skills to succeed in multisectoral, evidence-informed, and rapidly changing environments. 

You can view the updated Self-Study Instructions here. The 2019 Standards are available here. The complete list of changes to the Self-Study Instructions can be found here


The 2019 Self-Study Instructions will apply in full to all programs submitting Self-Study Reports on August 15, 2021. Programs submitting Self-Study Reports on August 15, 2020 will have the option of following either the 2017 Self-Study Instructions or 2019 Self-Study Instructions. (See full policy statement here). While the 2019 Standards and Self-Study Instructions include revisions to the universal required competencies, note that the expectations for student learning assessment remain unchanged: programs in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 cohorts, whose Self-Study Reports are due August 15 of 2020 and 2021, respectively, should have completed one full cycle of assessment for student learning outcomes in at least three of the universal competency domains. Consistent with current expectations, programs should provide a detailed assessment plan, which includes direct measures as well as a timeline for sustainable assessment of the universal competencies moving forward.

If you have any questions related to these revisions or any aspect of accreditation, I encourage you to contact myself or NASPAA Staff. The current members of COPRA are also available to respond to your queries and appreciate your involvement in trying to make the process more valuable to programs. The Commission continues to view the Self-Study Instructions as a living document and encourages feedback and suggested improvements.


Maja Holmes

COPRA Chair, 2019-2020