NWI Academic Program Accreditation

Set Your Undergraduate Wellness Program Above the Competition

If you are a program coordinator, department chair, or dean, this message is for you. The first undergraduate wellness program, Wellness Lifestyle Development, was created by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1989.

Since then, over 300 undergraduate wellness programs have been established in universities. To ensure employers that graduates with wellness degrees meet the standards necessary to enter the workforce, the National Wellness Institute created the first professional accreditation process.

NWI accreditation ensures that students graduating from wellness programs have the knowledge base, technical skills, educational background, and familiarity with new technology to produce an effective wellness program upon graduation.


Academic accreditation is not only vital to employers seeking emerging graduates, but to students when selecting their universities. Students want to attend a university that has a high quality, well-designed curriculum, endorsed by the National Wellness Institute.

Becoming nationally accredited by the National Wellness Institute is the first step in assuring employers and students that the emerging graduate will meet or exceed the criteria for success.

Read on to find out how you can get on the road to becoming a National Wellness Institute accredited academic program today.


The National Wellness Institute invites institutions offering a four-year curriculum in health promotion and wellness to apply for academic program accreditation.

Upon review of the online application and an on-campus site review, NWI determines the final status of the program. If the program fully meets the standards, it will receive full-approval for a ten-year period. The department will be required to submit a brief mid-term report (i.e., a formal internal program review) halfway through the accreditation period. Programs that generally meet the standards as determined by NWI but still have identified deficiencies may receive provisional approval for a four-year period of time. Provisional approvals are limited to two consecutive application cycles.


Steps to Apply

  • Submit application materials through the NWI online application.
  • Pay the $2,800 application fee. Applications will not be reviewed until the application fee is received.
  • Host a one-day site visit for an NWI representative. Developing the site review itinerary is the responsibility of the institution being reviewed. A sample agenda is available to applying institutions upon request.
  • Provide a $1,000 stipend for the site reviewer and cover all travel, lodging, and meal costs associated with the site visit.


To Apply for Re-Accreditation

Please submit a complete online application with payment no later than one semester prior to the accreditation expiration date.  Previous application submissions will be provided upon request.


Accreditation Periods

NWI accepts applications at any time during an academic year; however programs will be accepted for one of two accreditation periods: 1) January 1 through December 31, or 2) July 1-June 30. For the current graduating class to be eligible for Certified Wellness Practitioner (CWP) status, online applications must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the start of one of these accreditation periods. Individuals graduating from an within 24 months of submitting their CWP application are eligible to apply as a graduate of an NWI accredited academic program.


Application Requirements

The online application process allows individuals to enter information and upload documents (PDF preferred) as evidence that the program covers the core competency areas which align with the Wellness Promotion Competency Model. Click here to download an application checklist to assist in gathering the necessary information to apply for accreditation.


Wellness Promotion Competency Model

To receive accreditation approval, programs must illustrate through the application process that the program aligns with the domains indicated in the Wellness Promotion Competency Model.


Systems Aspects

  • Human physiology
  • Functional anatomy and/or kinesiology
  • Psychology/Health Psychology
  • Epidemiology (preferred)
  • Nutrition


Methodological Aspects

  • Wellness Philosophy and Role Modeling
  • Wellness for Special Populations (e.g., wellness in aging, adolescents, ESL, incarcerated, cancer survivors)
  • Health Behavior Change Process/Theory
  • Nutrition Applications
  • Stress management (e.g., mindful meditation, time management, retraining the brain)


Professional Aspects

  • Practicum experiences (practical, hands-on experience working with individuals/groups in the classroom, on campus, or in the community)
  • Wellness internship (practical experience at a company/organization)


Project Management Aspects

  • Wellness Communication and Marketing
  • Health and Wellness Management (e.g., human resources, health benefit design, wellness program/facility management)
  • Health Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming
  • Exercise Physiology and Exercise Programming
  • Wellness/Health Promotion Program Implementation


Contextual Aspects

  • Community Wellness
  • Socioeconomics/Sociology


We strongly recommend that you download the Wellness Promotion Competency Model, application checklist, and a list of Application Readers & Site Reviewers for reference before beginning the application process.


Apply for NWI Accreditation


Questions? E-mail apa@nationalwellness.org or call 715.342.2969.