Why accreditation matters: The importance of APA accreditation
“I am going to be a psychologist!”
Those words echoed through my head when I left my undergraduate adviser’s office 18 years ago. I promptly marched across the quad towards the computer lab and fired up AOL. Many, many minutes later I had a list of schools to write to for admission and program information. By “write,” I mean with a pen, paper, envelope, and stamp!
Over the next few weeks, large program packets arrived from far flung cities across the United States. My main motivator for graduate school was location. Programmatic accreditation was not a factor, or even a question I asked during the application process.
By year two of my graduate program, I was vaguely aware that our doctoral program had recently been granted seven years of accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA), but the accreditation standards and process for accreditation—as well as its importance—were foreign to me.
Today, as campus dean of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Washington, D.C. Campus, I know that criteria and process intimately, as our Clinical Psy.D. Program was recently granted APA accreditation for a full seven years, after a rigorous and thorough evaluation process.
The APA’s Commission on Accreditation is a specialized, professional accreditor—this accreditation only extends to specific doctoral graduate programs, doctoral internships, and postdoctoral residencies in professional psychology. APA accreditation is program and location specific and each program must apply for and obtain it separately.
Three reasons programmatic APA accreditation is important
- Accreditation provides assurance that the program meets the Standards of Accreditation as set by the Commission of Accreditation, and these standards were developed with input from the psychological community.
- Enrollment in and graduation from an APA accredited program will increase the training and job opportunities with the federal government, agencies that receive federal funding, and the ability to participate in federal loan forgiveness programs.
- Some states require applicants for licensure to graduate from an APA-accredited program in order to become licensed as clinical psychologists in that state. To verify any specific states’ licensure requirements, please utilize the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards website here.
In my own education, by the time I was applying for doctoral internship programs, I applied exclusively to those accredited by the APA. I knew that I wanted the most versatile career options given my age and position in life. In order to maximize my career opportunities, graduating from an accredited doctoral program and attending an accredited internship program was the best route for me.
Today, I am exceedingly pleased that every single student from the Clinical Psy.D. Program at The Chicago School’s D.C. Campus can say they’ve graduated from a doctoral program accredited by the APA.
The Clinical Psy.D. Program at the Washington D.C. Campus is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:
The American Psychological Association
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002-4242
Dr. Heather Sheets
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