International Members Left Out of ACPA Credentialing

On January 11 ACPA announced a new “Credentialing Implementation Team.” As an engaged member of ACPA I received the e-mail like everyone else. I gave it a quick look – but I must admit I didn’t think too much about it. However on January 12 – Eric Stoller wrote an interesting blog post on “Certification for Student Affairs Professionals.”

One giant thing stuck out for me. Eric had cited a line from the joint ACPA/NASPA report from 2010 on “Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners”. The quote was that the “preferred means of entering the student affairs profession is via a master’s degree in college student affairs administration.” I actually could not find this sentence in the 2010 report. However it does exist in the February 2006 Preliminary report from ACPA’s Task Force on Certification.

Here’s my issue with this line. The US approach to College Student Personnel/Administration Masters programs is particularly vocational. Courses are built around preparing Student Affairs and Higher Ed practitioners. Many programs have internships and assistantship opportunities where graduate students get to try and learn from various areas of Student Affairs. Not all jurisdictions have this defined path into Student Affairs positions. For example here in Canada we essentially have no Student Affairs masters programs. In fact, many Student Affairs professionals have an undergraduate degree. This is definitely changing and Canadians are seeing more and more positions in Student Affairs recommending/requiring a masters degree. However the path of undergraduate -> Student Affairs Master Program -> Position Student Affairs is rare; particularly for Student Affairs generalists. Many Canadian Student Affairs professionals with a masters degree completed it part-time in topics such as Higher Ed, Teaching and Leadership or Business Administration.

Granted ACPA is the American College Personnel Association. However on the main page of their website under the ACPA logo is says “College Student Educators International.” I can not dispute the benefits of being plugged-in and involved with ACPA. I appreciate the research and expertise that pour out of this organization. The US is truly a leader in Student Affairs. However I believe ACPA missed an opportunity to benefit from other perspectives and engage the international membership in this competency and credentialing process. It is no surprise that the entire Credentialing Implementation Team is based at US institutions.

I want to acknowledge ACUHO-I in this area. I know they are actively engaging international members in several initiatives. A few examples that I am familiar with: Jenny Owens from the Student Housing Services team at Ryerson University participated in the early development of the Certificate in Occupancy Management. ACUHO-I also honoured my supervisor Glen Weppler with the Global Initiatives Award in 2011 for his contribution in helping internationalize the organization.

All that said. There are certainly folks from around the globe that would love to be involved in the discussion in any way possible. I believe as a field – we will all benefit from the conversation.

3 comments to International Members Left Out of ACPA Credentialing

  • Chad Nuttall

    I stand corrected. There is a rep from Jamaica on the implementation team.


  • Chad – Great post. Gave me a lot to think about. By the way, the quote about the “preferred means” did indeed come from the 2006 report. Points 1 and 2 in the post were quotes from that original document. Just wanted to clarify. Cheers!

  • Shawn B

    After briefly reviewing the document, I found myself questioning the absence of international concerns or competences. On page 6, the document specifies the audience as student affairs professionals in the United States, so I can understand and support its assertion that the master’s degree is the preferred path for advancement–it is indeed the preferred path in the United States. However, I think our field has a a growing mandate to internationalize in knowledge, procedures, and services to better serve both domestic and international students. I see this mandate coming from our stated desire to be inclusive and promote learning.

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