Frequently Asked Questions: APR Accreditation

1.  How long does it take to earn the APR?

The timeline for earning APR is entirely self-directed in terms of how aggressively a candidate wants to meet each process milestone. However, there are some deadlines to meet once the applicant formally starts the process. It is recommended that the applicant consider work projects, community obligations and family commitments for a year-long timeframe in terms of deciding the right time to start the accreditation process. The Sierra Nevada Chapter generally holds two study sessions per year depending on the number of people interested and time of year that works for their collective schedules. After the study session, participants generally give themselves approximately one to five months to prepare their professional portfolio and questionnaire presentations for the Readiness Review Panel. Simultaneous to this preparation, a candidate should be reading suggested texts, working with the study guide and participating in any other courses or groups to solidify their knowledge of the KSAs. If a candidate receives confirmation from the panel, he/she usually spends another three to five weeks preparing to take the computer based exam. However, it is strongly recommended that the candidate take the exam as close to their Readiness Review Panel presentation as possible as the successful completion of that experience is a significant boost in confidence toward the exam. Once a candidate passes the computer based exam their accreditation journey is complete. 

2. What’s the value of APR?

The APR offers public relations practitioners a proven process for ethical decision making, assuring employers and hiring authorities they are hiring a practitioner who is experienced in organizational management decisions, has an excellent grasp of the public relations field, and understands and abides by ethical standards common to all the organizations participating in the credentialing program.

Accredited professionals also have exposure to, experience with and understanding of the critical components of a comprehensive, strategic planning process in public relations that includes research, planning, implementation and evaluation.

The process of Accreditation represents an excellent professional development opportunity for public relations professionals. APR is the nation’s largest credentialing program specifically designed as a postgraduate certification program for public relations professionals.

3. What support is available?

There is a variety of ways that a candidate can seek support during the APR process. One of the most meaningful ways might be to speak with an existing APR professional. Generally accredited practitioners are incredibly supportive of potential candidates and can share very personal stories about their process and the importance of earning accreditation; many will also offer up coaching, guidance and more formal educational assistance to a potential candidate. A sample of other support opportunities include webinars, online study groups, formal and informal chapter study groups, on-location boot camp sessions and  of course, your chapter’s co-chairs of professional development. These mentors are committed to providing one-on-one support, education, reviews, and direction about how to successfully navigate the APR process.

4. Do I have to maintain my accreditation?

Congratulations – you’ve earned your APR! Now it’s time to maintain your accreditation. Part of the significance of this designation is that it indicates that you, as a PR professional, are committed to thinking strategically and being fully informed about the current public relations industry. Therefore, an accredited professional is required to earn points toward reaccreditation every three years. These points are earned by participating in various public relations-oriented activities including continuing education, community service, board service at the chapter, region or nation level of PRSA and academic publishing. Keep track of your PR activities, complete a form and submit it to PRSA every three years to ensure uninterrupted APR status.

5. How many APRs are there?

It is estimated that there are 5,000 accredited professionals worldwide. As an APR you will join a relatively small group distinguished practitioners. In the Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA, nearly 20 members have earned their accreditation.

6. What is the accreditation process?

The process required for professionals seeking the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential is multi-phased, yet pretty straightforward. The Accreditation process can be summarized in four steps. It is important to review resources available for all four steps, starting with the process chart, before pursuing APR.

•             Review and complete the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations Application.

•             Prepare and sit for a Readiness Review.

•             Study for and complete the computer-based examination.

•             Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning through maintenance.

7. How much does it cost to get accredited?

In order to sit for the accreditation exam, practitioners must be current members and that fee varies by chapter. In addition, members pay a $25 application fee and a $385 examination fee. The candidate may choose to take on additional costs for textbooks or study aids.

Once the member takes and passes the exam, PRSA will issue a $110 rebate.

Please note that examination fees are non-refundable or transferable. Examination fees will be forfeit if a candidate does not cancel or reschedule his/her computer-based examination appointment by noon at least two (2) business days prior to the appointment date. If a candidate misses his/her appointment, he/she will not be rescheduled and will forfeit all fees paid.

8. What does the accreditation exam test for?

The exam tests a practitioner’s practical and applied knowledge, skills and abilities in the following areas:

•             Researching, Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Programs

•             Ethics & Law

•             Communications Models & Theories

•             Business Literacy

•             Management Skills and Leadership

•             Issue Management and Crisis Communication

•             Media Relations

•             History and Practice of Public Relations

•             Using Information Technology Effectively

•             Advanced Communication Skills

9. Are there other designations besides APR?

PRSA also offers a Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and the APR+M for members of the military. Within the APR designation, practitioners with over 20 years of experience can also apply to receive the designation of Fellow.

10. Who is eligible?

Eligibility requirements for a Certificate: this designation was designed for college students and is available at select universities across the country. For more information, visit

Eligibility for APR: It is recommended that candidates have at least five years’ experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations and who have earned either a bachelor’s degree in a communication-specific field (e.g., public relations, journalism, mass communication) or have equivalent work experience, which includes public relations principles, public relations writing, public relations campaigns, research, ethics and law and internship (practical experience under supervision).

Eligibility for APR +M: It is recommended the candidate meet minimum requirements to take the APR exam, in addition to meeting one of the two requirements stated below:

(1) Military members (active and reserve) and DoD civilian employees whose primary responsibilities lie in military communication-

related fields are eligible.

(2) DoD military contractors, who are members of a UAB participating organization and whose primary responsibilities lie in

military communication-related fields are eligible.