NACC Accreditation

NACC Accreditation fosters third sector academic programs worldwide, including nonprofit and nongovernmental studies and management, social entrepreneurship, social-purpose organizations leadership, and philanthropy studies and management, all with curriculum that places the civil sector at the center of the curricular perspective.


The NACC Accreditation Process fosters third sector academic programs world-wide, including nonprofit and NGO studies and management, social entrepreneurship, social-purpose organizations leadership, and philanthropy studies and management, all with curriculum which places the civil sector at the center of the curricular perspective.

The value to both existing and emerging third sector, nongovernmental, and related degree programs is that accreditation serves as a signal to prospective students and prospective faculty that a university has a well-developed program, while providing a brighter line than just guidelines in constructing a curriculum that specifically addresses our distinctive sector.

For a comprehensive understanding of the NACC Accreditation Process, please view the available resources and links found in the sidebar of this webpage.

Please review all of the information below before you apply for Accreditation.


NACC Accreditation will launch with the idea that a critical mass of dedicated research, instruction, and experience has reached sufficient density to underpin nonprofit and philanthropy centered academic programs and their curriculum. Evidence of this is found in the growing number of stand-alone nonprofit and philanthropy studies credit bearing degree programs offered by NACC member institutions and others.

The legitimacy of nonprofit/philanthropy-first epistemology arises with the processes and outcomes followed in the creation and content of the successive iterations of NACC Curricular Guidelines.

The term “Accreditation” is used as a nod to the current practices of the profession of higher education. It is meant as the process of identifying how a particular academic program aligns with the best thinking of our day, as reflected in the NACC Curricular Guidelines and Indicators of Quality Institutions. It is our goal and hope that this process remains focused on ensuring “truth in advertising” and while also serving as an ongoing forum for innovations in nonprofit/philanthropy learning.

Among the principles contributing to the ethos and spirit of the organizers of the NACC Curricular Guidelines that we are applying to the NACC Accreditation process are as follows:

  • A nonprofit/philanthropy-first philosophy and perspective. A nonprofit/philanthropy-first approach refers to research centered on the unique role and nature of the nonprofit and philanthropy sector institutions in civil society.
  • Affirmation by academic program leaders and participants in this accreditation process that the pedagogical subject matter in the major subject headers of the NACC Curricular Guidelines reflect the distinctive and autonomous character of the nonprofit and philanthropy sector institution forms from those of business and government. Also that the themes of volunteerism governance; mission fulfillment; advocacy, intermediation and facilitation in society; partnership; social enterprise and others are interwoven in the subject areas.
  • A broader-than-management nonprofit studies pedagogy. The criteria for program review and assessment will be full stand-alone degree programs utilizing terminology that synchronizes with the nomenclature and themes found in the NACC Curricular Guidelines.

This project will trend for the simplest and most transparent analytical tools and logics to validate a nonprofit/philanthropy first academic program’s alignment with the NACC Curricular Guidelines. The approach will also use as guiding principles the following perspectives:

  • Take a reactive review standard rather than proscriptive to participating institutions seeking the imprimatur of the NACC;
  • Favor a consensus, non-confrontational process and outcome;
  • Endeavor to offer transparency in methods and in reporting of outcomes;
  • Provide opportunity and weight to participant context and explanation within the limits of brevity and clarity;
  • Validate a “truth in advertising” that academic programs accredited through the NACC process meet the criteria for content and quality framed by the NACC Curricular Guidelines.


The Initial NACC Accreditation Application (Section 1: Intent to Undergo Accreditation) is accepted on a rolling basis.

We are excited to have you and your program move forward toward NACC Accreditation. We have designed the application process and portal so that it is easy and straightforward.

Before you initiate the application process, please review all of the information on this webpage and then we collect some key documents (PDFs) or web links ahead of time. This will save time as you are going through the application process. These documents are:

  • CV/Qualifications of professors who taught in the program over the last 2 years.
  • Curriculum plans, program guides, and/or course catalogues for the program to be accredited.
  • Syllabi and/or course summaries for all nonprofit classes taught in the program over the last 2 years.

In addition, we recommend you review the NACC Curricular Guidelines in advance as you will later be asked to “map” your curriculum according to these guidelines. Additional details about “curriculum mapping” can be found below.

An organization must be a member of NACC in order to undergo accreditation. If you are not yet a member of NACC but would like to become accredited, please visit our NACC Membership page to learn more about becoming a NACC member.


The application contains three sections:

  • Section 1: Initial Application: Intent to Undergo Accreditation. This is a very brief electronic application that provides us with some basic information and informs us that you wish to undergo accreditation. The application fee is due at this time.
  • Section 2: Phone Interview. Once your initial application and proof of payment is received, the NACC Accreditation Team will contact you to schedule a phone interview to complete the second section of the application. Data based on your responses to our questions will be input by the Accreditation Launch Director and the Accreditation Coordinator. You should plan to spend an hour or so with us at that time. Additional information will be provided in advance of your interview.
  • Section 3: Curricular Guideline Mapping and Program Distinctiveness. In this section, you will “map” how your program’s curriculum aligns with the NACC Curricular Guidelines. It is neither mandatory nor expected that your curriculum meets every guideline. Additional information will be provided before you begin this section, and an overview about both components can be found below.

You can save your work and return to the electronic applications at any time.

Upon completion of all three sections of the application, including submission of payment, your application materials will be reviewed by separate External Review Board members trained to confirm the data made by the submitting institutions and to map the curriculum using the framework established in the NACC Curricular Guidelines.

Applications will be assessed on a first-come, first-served basis, based on when application fees are submitted and received. Graduate programs will be assessed, followed by undergraduate programs.

See the Accreditation Process Timeline below and in the resources in the sidebar of this webpage for specific details about the step-by-step timeframe, deadlines, and projected decision announcement date.


The following dates are tentative projections for illustrative purposes, these are not concrete dates you must adhere to.

  • January 31: Initial Application and application fee received.*
  • January 31 to February 28: Interviews (Section 2) completed. Section 3 made available to the applicant immediately following completion of the interview.
  • February 29: Deadline to submit Section 3. This concludes the application process.
  • March 15: Accreditation Team to provide Preliminary Reports to ERB for their review and approval.
  • March 30: Preliminary Reports sent to respective Applicants for their review and response.
  • April 15: Deadline for Applicant to submit a response to the Preliminary Report to Accreditation Team.
  • June 1: Accreditation Team announces ERB’s final decisions to respective Applicants.
  • June 30: Hard copy reports sent to participating Institutions
  • August 30: Accreditation Team produces Accreditation Briefing report based on Accreditation findings.


Part of the NACC Accreditation Process involves an exercise in “Curriculum Mapping,” in which programs are “mapped”* according to the NACC Curricular Guidelines. The Curricular Guidelines list 16 different broad topic areas for Graduate Programs and 13 different broad topic areas for Undergraduate Programs. Each broad topic area includes subtopics.

Kindly examine the respective Curricular Guidelines prior to starting the electronic input process. It is important to recognize that not all programs cover all Curricular Guideline topics.

*The following concept of Curriculum Mapping is applied by NACC when reviewing applications:

“The Glossary of Education Reform (n.d.) is a comprehensive online resource describing ‘widely used school-improvement terms, concepts, and strategies’ (para. 2) that was organized by the Great Schools Partnership. This glossary defines curriculum mapping as:

the process indexing or diagraming a curriculum to identify and address academic gaps, redundancies, and misalignments for purposes of improving the overall coherence of a course of study and, by extension, its effectiveness (a curriculum, in the sense that the term is typically used by educators, encompasses everything that teachers teach to students in a school or course, including the instructional materials and techniques they use). (“Curriculum Mapping,” 2013, para. 1).” (Carpenter, 2017)

There are four specific ways that programs can document that they are meeting the NACC Curricular Guidelines. This exercise will apply the mapping curriculum method in the manner listed below.

Program Meets a Curricular Guideline at the Core or Mission Level

Programs can show they are meeting a specific Curricular Guideline by linking it to their program’s mission statement or its general student learning outcomes. These are the “broadest” level of what it is that the program proposes to teach all students.

Since NACC does not expect that all programs will satisfy all Curricular Guidelines or even address all of them at this level, programs should instead pick the Curricular Guidelines that they believe are at the fundamental core of what all students in your program should be learning.

Program Meets a Curricular Guideline at the Course Level

Programs can show that they meet a specific Curricular Guideline through the general content of a specific course. For example, individual courses will often contain overall course objectives and/or course goals. These course objectives and goals are evidence that the course content addresses a specific Curricular Guideline.

Program Meets a Curricular Guideline at the Specific Course Assignment Level

Programs can also document that they address a specific Curricular Guideline by linking the specific Curricular Guideline to individual course assignments. Please make sure that reviewers know which course the specific assignment is attached to when describing it.

Program Meets a Curricular Guideline “Outside” the Classroom

While the primary mechanism for programs to show that they are meeting a Curricular Guideline is through the curriculum, it is also possible that programs can use extra-curricular activities as evidence they are meeting a specific Curricular Guideline.

For example:

  • A program-sponsored fundraising or philanthropic giving contest could be used as evidence that the program is addressing the Fundraising and Resource Development Curricular Guideline;
  • A program-sponsored Nonprofit Organization Hackathon could be evidence that the program is addressing the Information Technology, Social Media, and Data Management Curricular Guideline;
  • A program-sponsored fundraising or philanthropic giving contest could be used as evidence that the program is addressing the Nonprofit Finance and Fundraising Curricular Guideline.

Carpenter, H. L. (2017). Curriculum Mapping Models and Other Processes that Might Work for Nonprofit and Philanthropy Accreditation. Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, 7(SI1), 111-117.


Part of NACC’s mission is to help build the nonprofit/philanthropy field. One way of doing that is by capturing and sharing broadly the distinctiveness and the accomplishments of academic programs and centers.

Since the goal of NACC accreditation is to offer a “mark of quality,” for academic programs, we believe that quality programs should be able to articulate ways that they are innovative, creative, distinct, or special in comparisons to other programs.

All programs have specialties or areas where they are particularly innovative, creative, distinct, and special. For some programs, this is cutting-edge research from faculty. For some programs, this is a strong community service program designed to improve local nonprofit capacity. For some programs, it is creative course structures or course content.

In the final section, we ask program identify and articulate three specific ways they see themselves as innovative, creative, distinct, and special. NACC is agnostic to what those three areas or topics are. All we ask is that programs make a good faith effort to identify, articulate, and report three distinctive characteristics of their program so that other programs can learn from these methods and processes.


Since we are considering this accreditation process as a pathway to learn from one another, we will consider the information we collect and the knowledge we create as the intellectual property of the NACC.

Consequently, we seek your affirmed permission to use the data and assessment outcomes we collect for purposes of further research questions and potentially for publication in report formats to our members; to the larger community of academics through the NACC News; at academic conferences affiliated with the field; and potentially in juried scholarly publications of the field. If you decline this permission, we require a statement from you clearly indicating your desire. We will consider the absence of a statement as consent to proceed as described.


While our desire is to reach consensus with the participating organizations, and while checks and balances are in place to strive for fairness and impartiality, we will establish that appeal of the accreditation determination may be necessary and can be made through written articulation of the issue to the project director, and for subsequent review by the Accreditation Advisory Committee Chair.


The application fee is due at the time your Initial Application (Section 1: Intent to Undergo Accreditation) is submitted. Your initial application is not complete until payment is submitted.

Fees and Discounts:

$2,400 – Graduate Degree Program application fee (for one stand-alone nonprofit degree program)
$2,400 – Undergraduate Degree Program application fee (for one stand-alone nonprofit degree program)
$4,000 – Graduate & Undergraduate dual program application fee (with the $800 discount applied)*
$400 – Fee for late submission of Initial Application and/or application fee payment