How to Become a Site Visitor

COPRA, the peer review accrediting body, is always looking to train new site visitors! Whether you are an academic or a practitioner in the public service field, we would be happy to include you in our pool of visitors.

How can I become a NASPAA Site Visitor? 

  • Email to let us know of your interest and whether you meet the requirements as an academic or practitioner (see Qualifications below) or be nominated by the Principal Representative of a NASPAA Accredited Program. Sending a recent CV would be helpful but is not required prior to taking the site visitor training.
  • Complete site visitor training. Virtual site visitor training is held on an annual basis in the summer. Email to let us know your interest.
  • Complete biographical information and upload a curriculum vitae or resume to the NASPAA Data Center.  
  • Be matched with a program in the accreditation review process and perform a conflict of interest check.
  • Understand that site visitors are volunteers interested in public service Master's level graduate education. Site visitors are reimbursed for reasonable expenses related to the site visit as described in the Site Visitor Manual.

NASPAA Priorities 

NASPAA priorities for new public service academics and practitioner site visitor volunteers include:

  • Women faculty from NASPAA accredited programs.
  • Associate professors and above from NASPAA accredited programs housed at HBCUs and other minority serving institutions.
  • Associate professors and above from underrepresented groups (people of color, programs outside of the US).
  • Practitioners from underrepresented groups who are familiar with public and nonprofit affairs, policy, and administration curricula and with workforce needs.

Want a head start?

  • Review Official Documents: NASPAA Standards, Self-Study Instructions, Policy Statements, Site Visitor Manual.
  • Watch the Site Visitor training videos to become familiar with NASPAA accreditation. This is optional since potential site visitors will be reviewing the videos during their virtual site visitor training.

Want additional information?

  • For information NASPAA site visitors click here.
  • For information on the NASPAA Standards click here.
  • For information about the NASPAA Accreditation Process click here.
  • Scan below for summaries of these topics.

Site Visitor Roles and Qualifications

Site visit teams typically consist of three members:

  1. Chair: Someone who has previously served on at least two visits and who has a strong understanding of the Standards and the site visit process.
  2. Academic: Associate professor or above from a NASPAA accredited program with expertise in an area that aligns with the program or its mission.
  3. Practitioner: Someone who has 7+ years of experience in the field of public service and whose area of expertise fits with the program’s mission and a MPA, MPP, or similar graduate degree, and who has an MPA, MPP or similar graduate degree. Practitioners typically are familiar with public and nonprofit affairs, policy, and administration curricula and with workforce needs.


Every NASPAA Site Visitor must complete the official NASPAA virtual training. Prior to any training, interested site visitors can watch the series of Training Videos, which orient trainees to the accreditation process, the NASPAA Standards, and the role of the site visit. Training must be renewed every five years unless assigned to a site visit team.


Every site visit team is matched to a cohort program based on several factors, including expertise, meaning not every trained site visitor is matched every spring. Site Visitors are contacted by NASPAA staff in the fall with a proposed program match, to perform a conflict of interest check. Once teams are confirmed, the logistical process begins.

The Site Visit

Site Visits occur each spring, between the end of January and the end of March, and typically last two and a half days. A sample schedule is available in the Site Visit Manual. Programs and teams work together to finalize all logistical details: the schedule, travel, on-the-ground meetings, and overall expectations. The site visit chair has final say over the details of the visit.


Prior to every site visit, site visitors are responsible for updating themselves on current NASPAA documents and policies, as well as thoroughly reviewing program documents. Preparation is key to a successful site visit, and site visitors should take care to review all documents and strategize well before the visit. The Site Visit Manual provides extensive information about each aspect of the visit. In general, visitors should become familiar with a program’s Self-Study Report, Interim Report, Interim Report Response, and any supplementary documents — all of which can be found in the NASPAA Data Center — to which site visitors are given access ahead of the visit. The chair of the site visit team is not only responsible for liaising with the program to coordinate the site visit, but for guiding team members throughout the preparation process. 

Site Visit

On the ground, site visitors will meet with program stakeholders, including faculty, students, alumni, and university administrators, as well as review pertinent program documents, including those related to program evaluation. Directed by the questions in the Interim Report, the site visit team is responsible for learning more about the program in order to relay evidence to COPRA for its final accreditation decision. Site Visitors do not speak for COPRA, nor can they pass any judgment on the program. The Site Visit Manual provides a sample schedule, as well as important documents to review and helpful tips on how to interview program stakeholders.

Site Visit Report

Each team is responsible for preparing a site visit report within 30 days of the visit. The report, which constitutes one piece of a program’s accreditation portfolio, is a collection of the evidence found on the ground, especially with regard to items cited by COPRA in the Interim Report. The team should take great care to make no judgments of the program but to provide the evidence COPRA needs to make a full evaluation of the program, linking every detail to a specific Standard. The Site Visit Manual provides guidance on how to draft the report.

The program has the opportunity to review and suggest factual edits to the report (within 14 days of the draft report), but the final product is the discretion of the team alone. The report is drafted, reviewed, and finalized in the NASPAA Data Center.


For any eligible expenses incurred by the site visitor (travel, lodging, food), each team member is responsible for submitting for reimbursement directly from NASPAA. Programs may not reimburse site visitors directly. For more information, click here.


Have questions? Click here!