Education vs. certification: An overview of professional and academic credentials in Canadian public relations

Manley, D. (2016).  Journal of Professional Communication, 5(1), 135-158.



This study explored the reasons for the failure of accreditation (i.e., APR, ABC) in Canadian public relations and communications. An extensive mixed-methods research design (22 in-depth interviews, 231 completed surveys, and content analysis of 600 job postings) was used to determine both the attitudes towards and tangible benefits of accreditation. It was found that the majority of practitioners are investing in applied graduate degrees (i.e, MCM, MPR, MAPC, MPC) rather than accreditation. The CPRS and IABC designations have been available in Canada since 1968, however, as of 2014 only 793 practitioners possess them. Conversely, applied graduate programs for mid-career practitioners have graduated 973 practitioners since 2001. Academic credentials and experience in public relations and communications are the most important qualifications to the industry, employers, and practitioners. The APR and ABC designations have failed to demonstrate value and relevance to the practice over the past four decades.