Our History

The Chicago School History - Students at Dearborn StationThe Chicago School was founded in 1979 by a group of psychologists and educators committed to advancing the field and providing professional training in a nonprofit setting.

The Early Days

The school’s road to accreditation began during its first academic year. In 1980, The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) awarded candidate-for-accreditation-status to The Chicago School, with accreditation first awarded in 1984. The Clinical Psy.D. Department in Chicago was awarded Provisional Accreditation by APA in 1987, and Full Accreditation in 1992, a status that it retains. During the summer of 1979, the school became an affiliate member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). In 1980, the school’s status was raised to associate membership; in 1985, The Chicago School was made a Full Member of NCSPP.

A Dream Becomes Reality

The Chicago School began its first classes at temporary quarters located at the YMCA Building located on 30 West Chicago Avenue. The school moved to the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue in 1980. In 1986, following an extensive search, the school moved to its next location, the historic Dearborn Station in Chicago’s South Loop. By the mid 1990s, The Chicago School was earning a national reputation for its emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism in the psychology profession. It has twice been recognized by NCSPP for significant contributions, first in the area of diversity, and most recently for outstanding advocacy for the field of psychology.

Extending Our Reach

A new era began in 2004 when the school moved to its current Midwest home on the Chicago River at 325 North Wells St. Space across the street in the Merchandise Mart was eventually added to accommodate classrooms and faculty offices for new programs in applied fields such as Applied Behavior Analysis, Counseling, Forensic Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and School Psychology.

Expanding the school’s mission to new communities continued in 2006 with the addition of Online programs and certificates. It was followed by a Board of Trustees-led project in 2007 to establish a national presence for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with locations on the West and East coasts.

The Chicago School Los Angeles Campus opened in summer 2008, and two more campuses in Southern California followed with the acquisition of the California Graduate Institute: one located in L.A.’s Westwood neighborhood and the other in Irvine, Calif. The East Coast side of the initiative was realized in fall 2010 with the opening of a campus in the nation’s capital.

Paving the Way Towards Positive Change

For six consecutive years, The Chicago School has held a place on the President’s Honor Roll for Higher Education Community Service; a distinction it earned in part due to the more than 800,000 hours of low cost and pro bono service students and faculty perform each year in the community. “The Engaged Professional Model of Education” is the name given to this approach to training and service that was formally articulated by the Chicago School community in the late 2000s. In 2009, The Chicago School made The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual list of “great colleges to work for.”

Today, the school has more than 4,300 students studying in one of more than 20 degree programs making it the largest nonprofit professional psychology school in the nation.