When a student is looking for a Bachelor’s or Master’s Level Degree program in psychology it is important that they choose a program that has the appropriate accreditation. The most highly sought after accreditation for psychology programs is that of the American Psychological Association (APA). Unfortunately, the APA only accredits doctoral programs that are taught on-campus. With this limitation, Undergraduate, Master’s and Online Psychology Programs are forced to seek alternate accreditation.
Regional Accreditation for Master’s and Bachelor’s Level Degree Programs
When looking for a psychology program it is important to choose a school that has been granted regional accreditation. There are seven individual regional accrediting bodies that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE), the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC-WASC) and the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WASC-SCUC). These accrediting bodies evaluate outcomes of each college and university and if the school is meeting minimum criteria in areas such as graduation, research, student outcomes and several others, they are eligible to receive regional accreditation.
Program Specific Accreditation for Master’s and Bachelor’s Level Degree Programs
The other important type of accreditation is program specific accreditations. There are a number of these and they vary depending upon the focus of the academic program. They range from broad accreditations to very specific accreditations that relate to a small sub-specialty of psychology. Some examples of these accreditations include:
• The American Psychological Association (APA)
• The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC)
• The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP)
• The Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA)
• The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
• The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
• The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)
• The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
• The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
• The Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)
Each one of these accrediting agencies evaluates programs that relate to one specific area or sub-area of psychology. When a student is looking for a psychology program it is important to know what accrediting bodies are most relevant to their area of interest. Each student can search for a program that has been accredited by an agency that relates to their specific area of interest within the field of psychology. So, while not all psychology programs are eligible for APA accreditation, there are a number of other accrediting bodies that monitor Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology.