How are Psychology Degrees Accredited?

accredited psychology degreeStudents will want to understand how are psychology degrees accredited to ensure a school or program they are considering is going to provide them with a quality education. It is important to look at the different accrediting agencies and see if a school a student is planning on attending makes the cut. It may not be a problem if a particular program or school is not accredited, although it is an important factor to consider when choosing a college.

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Understanding School Accreditation In The United States

When looking into school accreditation, it is first important to understand how it works in the United States. There are many agencies that accredit either an entire educational institution or a specific program. Both of these accolades can indicate to a prospective student whether or not a certain program provides an acceptable level of quality education. Accreditation means that an independent organization has found that a particular program or university meets or exceeds its standards of academic offerings, student services, administrative functions and more. It is voluntary to seek accreditation and accreditation must be renewed with relative regularity.

Regional And National School Accreditation

The most prestigious accreditation agencies in the United States actually do not accredit specific degree programs. Instead, they are regional organizations that accredit higher education institutions. This is the most widely recognized type of college accreditation and a good indicator of whether a college meets or exceeds various criteria of providing quality education to its students. There are also several national organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Schools with national accreditation may provide cheaper programs while schools with regional accreditation may provide more prestigious programs.

The American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association, or APA, is one of the most important organizations in the country dedicated to psychology. The APA does accredit psychology degree programs, giving these programs a high standing in the psychology field and among employers. However, they only accredit doctoral programs, not undergraduate or master’s programs. This is still important, as psychologists typically need a doctoral degree to practice. Students who want to become clinical psychologists and join professional psychologist organizations may be required to obtain a doctoral degree from an APA-accredited program. The APA has significant influence over how psychology degrees are accredited.

Is It A Problem If A Program Isn’t Accredited?

This partially depends on what a student wishes to do with his or her psychology degree. Some states require psychologists to have graduated from an APA-approved program in order to obtain a license to practice in that state, according to the American Psychological Association. Some organizations, such as the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, consider graduation from an APA-approved program to be a minimum requirement to work as a mental health service provider. Accreditation is not as important for students who simply want to learn the principles of psychology in order to enter other occupations. Remember that degrees from schools accredited by the major regional and national organizations are likely to be held in higher regard by employers.

Students should consider a number of factors when looking at psychology degree programs, including cost, fit and reputation. Accreditation by a prestigious, recognized organization is always a good indicator of school and program quality. It is good for students to ask how are psychology degrees accredited to understand what the claims colleges make really mean.