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May 26, 2005

The value of the CAE certification -- Part 2

My friend Jeff De Cagna has made his case for an executive masters degree in association management to -- I presume -- replace the CAE certification. I think Jeff has a great idea that deserves further discussion.

A masters in association management should complement -- not replace -- the CAE, in my view. I would submit that, technically speaking, a masters in association management, if not accompanied by a final exam, would do less to ensure its graduates' competencies than the current CAE exam does.

Also, once you've earned a masters, you're done -- right? But with the CAE, you're required to earn continuing education units, which mandates ongoing professional development for those who want to trade on the certification. In this respect, the CAE is clearly necessary.

Many people, including me, question the legitimacy of executive masters programs. My impression is that many executive masters programs are little more than purchased papers. This stigma would need to be overcome if an executive masters in association management were launched. If the CAE isn't taken seriously, imagine the initial reaction to an executive masters that just meets once a month and doesn't include a final exam.

It's also noteworthy that one of our country's premier masters programs, the MBA, now has an optional certification attached to it, the CMBA. This is, no doubt, the free market reaction to the pervasive suspicion about executive masters programs I mentioned above.

Even if a masters is introduced, I believe the CAE should remain part of an association executive's academic journey.

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