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September 30, 2022

Avila’s Kinesiology Program Receives NSCA-CASCE Accreditation

Larson with Avila Kinesiology student.
Gerald Larson, Ph.D.. Larson with Avila Kinesiology student.

After a lengthy, two-year process involving self-study, site visits, meetings, and CASCE board review, Avila’s Kinesiology program has received initial undergraduate accreditation through the National Strength and Conditioning Association – Council on Accreditation of Strength and Conditioning Education (NSCA-CASCE).

Avila University was one of the first six schools to have our application approved for a program review during 2021-22. We are now and forever one of the first Colleges/Universities approved for this distinction 2022-23,” said Program Director of Kinesiology Gerald Larson, Ph.D.

The Kinesiology Program at Avila University has always been excellent and is now recognized nationally by the NSCA-CASCE. The awarded accreditation recognizes the quality content of the program and the passion/expertise of the instructors,” said Dean of the College of Science and Health Darrin Smith, Ph.D. “Ultimately, I am pleased this program is available to our students to gain a thorough understanding of strength and conditioning that will prepare them for various career options,” 

Beginning in the year 2030, all NSCA-CSCS credential strength and conditioning professionals will be required to have graduated from an accredited program. We have positioned our undergraduate program to meet this standard and give ourselves a competitive advantage compared to other programs,” said Larson. 

Dive Deeper with Program Director Larson

My vision for the Kinesiology program has been to develop a nationally recognized program that is student-centered instruction, innovative curriculum delivery, and professional excellence. The curriculum includes a range of topics from rehabilitation science to sports science. The strength and conditioning professional will have the potential to serve in many roles along this continuum, including post-rehabilitation specialist, athlete development, and sports performance coach.  The professional standard for these roles is a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and the National Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) organization’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) credential.

My vision for CASCE accreditation is to establish the Kinesiology program as a national leader in strength and conditioning education and distinguish our graduates to increase their professional opportunities. We plan to grow our strength and conditioning concentration enrollment, including an online post-bachelor distinction for non-Avila graduates.

What is the CSCS exam?

The CSCS Exam is a nationally standardized exam that includes science and practical applications of bachelor’s level knowledge. The NSCA-CSCS credential ensures employers and the general public that the strength and conditioning practitioner has met the basic competency standards for the discipline. It also levels the playing field for graduates from smaller private universities by providing them equal access to employment opportunities requiring the CSCS.  The NSCA has declared that beginning in the year 2030, all applicants for the CSCS Exam must have graduated from a CASCE-accredited program.

What was the accreditation process?

The NSCA – CASCE accreditation process began with a program application submitted during the fall semester of 2020.

During the spring semester of 2021, CASCE announced that the Avila University Kinesiology program was one of the six programs nationally accepted to complete the accreditation process during 2021-22.

I prepared and submitted the Kinesiology program self-study in September 2021. The comprehensive self-study was accepted in January 2022, and an accreditation site visit was scheduled for April 2022.

The CASCE site visit involved meetings with Kinesiology program administrators, faculty, students, and campus support staff. CASCE shared its accreditation report with us in early June.

I prepared the program rejoinder and submitted it before the NSCA annual conference in early July 2022. The CASCE accreditation board met and approved the Kinesiology program accreditation. The accreditation approval letter was emailed to me and campus administrators in early August 2022.

What do you have to do to maintain accreditation in the future? 

Avila Kinesiology will submit program progress reports at designated times, maintain an NSCA-CSCS Exam first-time pass rate of 75% or higher, and grow enrollment in the Strength & Conditioning concentration. Reaccreditation self-study reports and site visits will be completed every five years.

What does this mean for the program and Avila?

CASCE Accreditation based on NSCA-CSCS standards serves to help level the playing field for our small private school curriculum by earning the same academic recognition as NCAA schools, including R1 (research) institutions.

How does this affect recruitment efforts for this program?

Accreditation may help us recruit undergraduate students interested in strength and conditioning as a vocation. Since the CSCS Exam requires a bachelor’s degree, it may position us to effectively recruit post-bachelor’s degree students interested in our post-bachelor’s online concentration, especially in the future when CASCE program accreditation is required.

Undergraduate program strength and conditioning accreditation may also help us recruit for our Master’s in Kinesiology.

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