Document Type


Publication Date



accreditation, Latin America, social equity, diversity, program accreditation, Public Affairs Education


Purpose – Given widespread acceptance of the importance of addressing social inequalities in Latin America and the critical role that public policy and public administration can have on advancing these goals, this paper examines the extent to which accreditation of public affairs education programs can be a tool to advance those goals.

Design/methodology/approach – International and national accreditation standards are compared using content analysis for their reference to social equity and diversity in their standards regarding faculty, students, curriculum content, and learning outcomes. The research applies content analysis of key documents and thematic coding.

Findings – International accrediting agencies focused explicitly on programs in public affairs place a much greater emphasis on social equity and diversity than their national counterparts which accredit a full range of programs and institutions. National accrediting agencies assert the value of diversity, but their standards and reporting requirements suggest otherwise.

Research limitations/implications – The research suggests that international accreditation standards have the potential to advance social equity goals more effectively than national standards and that there is great potential to enhance this component of national accreditation standards. Implications for policy makers, accreditation professionals, and scholars are identified.

Originality/value – The research is original in its focus on the role of accreditation in promoting social equity and its comparison of national and international standards. Although limited to Latin America and public affairs programs, the research provides a basis for examining similar patterns with respect to other disciplines and professions, and in other regions of the world.

Publisher Attribution

Rubaii, N. (2016). Promoting social equity, diversity, and inclusion through accreditation: comparing national and international standards for public affairs programs in Latin America. Quality Assurance in Education, 24(4).

This is the accepted version of a paper published in Quality Assurance in Education. This paper has been peer-reviewed but does not include the final publisher proof-corrections or journal pagination.

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