Definitions for ASPA Membership

(Definitions Adopted by ASPA Membership: September 14, 1998; Revised: September 11, 2006)

For purposes of membership application to ASPA, the following conceptual definitions will apply:


The process of evaluating educational programs or institutions and publicly recognizing those which meet agreed-upon standards of quality.

Accrediting Organization

A non-governmental organization operated as a non-profit corporation (or an entity within a parent organization) which is dedicated to accreditation practices.


A branch of knowledge, science, health, art or business that has application in a specific occupation, usually requiring significant specialized training.

Entry Into Practice

The preparation of individuals to achieve basic competencies and attain the minimum educational qualifications necessary to begin functioning in a specific occupation.

Higher Education Institutions

Institutions that offer curricula for professional preparation, are authorized by a federal agency or legally authorized in a State to award postsecondary degrees, diplomas and certificates, and are eligible for accreditation by a specialized or professional accrediting organization by virtue of their primary function of preparing individuals for entry into a profession or specialization within a field. Settings such as hospitals (or similar) that serve as teaching/training centers that allow practitioners the opportunity for specialized postgraduate training or experiential placements for students may be considered higher education institutions.

In Good Standing

An ASPA member organization which:

  • is current in payment of dues or assessments;
  • has endorsed the current ASPA-member Code of Good Practice;
  • functions as an accrediting organization in accordance with its charter; and
  • is in compliance with the criteria for membership. (adopted March 7, 1997)

National Scope

The offering of accreditation services in all states and territories of the United States.


The defined occupation which requires its practitioners to acquire a body of specialized knowledge and become proficient in basic skills and competencies, for which the practitioner is then accorded certain societal benefits, including title and autonomy in carrying out the work.


Colleges, schools, departments, units or other administrative organizations within an institution of higher education, through which curricula for professional preparation are offered.

Specialized and/or Professional Accrediting Organization

An organization with a national scope that accredits higher education programs or institutions that prepare individuals for entry into practice in a specialized discipline or defined profession, or educates individuals in a concentrated area of study.


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