On college campuses across North America, young people with passion for environmental causes are taking action to make the world more sustainable. How do we turn these motivated students into future environmental educators?  NAAEE’s Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators provide the basis for these campus initiatives.


What is accreditation?

Environmental education is a growing profession.  As with any profession, we know the importance of preparing practitioners who possess the knowledge and abilities to provide high quality environmental education to diverse audiences in a wide variety of settings.  Regardless of the setting or whether they are working in rural, suburban or urban areas, environmental educators need to be able to deliver instruction and develop materials that effectively foster environmental literacy. NAAEE’s Accreditation was established to acknowledge the important role played by the colleges and universities that prepare these environmental education professionals.

Accreditation provides third party, standards-based recognition of high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs that engage in the preparation and professional development of environmental educators.  Accreditation is based on criteria set out in Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators (NAAEE 2010), and requires the submission of a Self-Study Audit. For Accreditation to be awarded, the Self-Study Audit is reviewed and approved by a panel of environmental education professionals assembled and trained by NAAEE.

Accreditation encourages and recognizes excellence, and facilitates the in-depth, continual assessment and improvement of environmental education preparation and professional development programs within colleges and university. In addition, participation in the Accreditation process benefits the field of environmental education as a whole, allowing us to:

  • Expand our knowledge base by documenting and recognizing highly effective environmental education programs;
  • Share best practices, enriching all programs and the profession;
  • Leverage continued growth and development of environmental education programs; and
  • Celebrate exemplary environmental education programs.


What are the benefits of accreditation?

Although earning Accreditation should be considered a major honor in and of itself, the process of participating in NAAEE’s Accreditation program and the completion of the Self-Study Audit provides an important opportunity to:

  • Measure program outcomes and performance against well-accepted environmental education criteria;
  • Use the structured program evaluation and reflection process for evidenced-based program improvement;
  • Revisit, revise and clarify program goals, objectives, and implementation strategies; and
  • Document program successes credibly and communicate these successes to internal and external audiences.

A standards-based recognition helps programs and institutions:

  • Attract and retain students;
  • Provide evidence of excellence for employers, funders, and donors;
  • Document program impact for university-wide reviews;
  • Demonstrate to the public, governing boards and others that the program is using best practices and preparing well-qualified graduates; and
  • Assure alumni and other supporters that the program maintains high standards.


Who should apply for accreditation?

Due to the unique nature of environmental education, Accreditation is open to all college/university environmental education programs that meet the NAAEE Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators, including but not limited to college/university undergraduate and graduate environmental education majors, environmental education minors, environmental education certificate programs, and other cross-disciplinary or integrated studies programs.  Because Accreditation examines both how the program design is aligned to the Guidelines and how program participants are assessed against those same Guidelines, programs need to provide assessment data for at least two years. New programs should wait to submit their Self-Study Audit until they have at least two years of available assessment data. Click here to download a copy of the application packet.


Who is accredited?

Eastern Kentucky University

Montreat College

NOVA Southeastern University

University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point