Chapter 5: APA Membership, Division Membership, and Fellow Status
Standards for Election to APA
The minimum standard for election to APA Member status in accord with the APA Bylaws (Article II, Section 5) is "receipt of the doctoral degree based in part upon a psychological dissertation or the doctoral degree based on other evidence of proficiency in psychological scholarship from a program primarily psychological in content. The doctoral degree must have been conferred by a graduate or professional school that is regionally accredited or that has achieved such accreditation within five years of the year the doctoral degree was granted or that is one of equivalent standing outside the United States."
The APA Bylaws (Article II, Section 7) state that "The minimum requirement for acceptance to Associate member status shall be (a) completion of at least two years of graduate work in psychology in a regionally accredited graduate or professional school or (b) the master's degree in psychology from a regionally accredited graduate or professional school." Initially, Associates may not vote or hold office within the Association. After five consecutive years of Associate membership, Associates achieve voting privileges.
Requirements for election to Member or Associate status may be waived by the Membership Committee in special cases for persons of distinction in fields other than psychology. The requirement of a doctoral degree based in part upon a psychological dissertation may be waived by the Membership Committee upon submission of evidence satisfactory to the Committee of significant contribution or performance in the field of psychology.
The APA Bylaws (Article II, Sections 11-15) allow for the categories of International Affiliate, Student Affiliate (including High School Student, Undergraduate Student, and Graduate Student), High School Teacher Affiliate, and Community College Teacher Affiliate. International Affiliates "shall be psychologists who reside in countries other than the United States or Canada. An individual desiring affiliation with the Association must, at the time of application, be a member of the psychological association of the country in which the applicant resides or, if no such association exists, shall present evidence of appropriate qualifications." The APA Bylaws state that affiliates "are not Members of the Association and … shall not represent themselves as such. They shall have such privileges as may be granted by Council, including special rates for subscriptions and publications."
Acceptance to APA
Acceptance to membership in the APA takes place monthly. Application forms for APA membership may be obtained from the Membership Department. Completed applications which fulfill the standard criteria are reviewed and approved, while other applications are sent to the APA Membership Committee for recommendation.
The APA sends official notification of acceptance to new Members, Associates, and Affiliates at least one month prior to the effective date of membership. Membership is confirmed by the payment of initial dues. Names of new APA Members, Associates, and Affiliates are published in the American Psychologist. The names of those who have not paid their initial dues are published annually in the archival issue (usually August) of the American Psychologist ("Proceedings" section). The acceptance of those who fail to make the initial dues payment by a specified date is declared void.
Standards for Election to a Division
Each division has its own criteria for membership and elects its own members. Divisions specify their membership and affiliation categories and the criteria for each category within their bylaws. Adding new categories and revising or eliminating old categories of membership/affiliation is done through a vote of the division's membership using methods specified in its bylaws.
Anyone belonging to APA may apply for membership in one or more divisions under the rules of eligibility and election established by the division. Some divisions use the basic requirements of APA membership and an interest in the issues and activities of the division as the criteria for membership, although others may have more stringent requirements. In general, anyone belonging to both APA and a division should have the same category of membership in the division as they have in APA, for example, Member, Associate, International Affiliate, Student Affiliate, High School Teacher Affiliate, and Community College Teacher Affiliate. Many divisions have also created a Professional Affiliate category, for those individuals who are non-APA members. This category might also be used for high school teachers or community college teachers to join a division that does not have a category of affiliation targeted to them.
Although divisions determine their own qualifications for membership classes, the designation Fellow is reserved for members of the division who are Fellows of APA (see below) and the designation Life Member (formerly known as Dues Exempt) is reserved for members who are Life Members of APA. More information.
Election to a Division
Interested individuals should apply directly to the divisions for membership or affiliation. Most divisions have applications on their websites and send out information as requested. In order to encourage their joining a division, continuing Members, Associates, and Affiliates receive a Division Interest Form in the annual dues mailing sent in September. New Members, Associates, and Affiliates receive a Division Interest Form in the new member packet sent prior to confirmation of their election.
Each person may indicate as many divisions as they wish on the Division Interest Form, which they return to the Membership Department. Codes will be entered in computerized records signifying interest in the division. Subsequently, membership staff generates a list of interested parties for each division. The list is sent to the secretary/treasurer or division membership chair with an accompanying set of mailing labels for the division's use in sending out membership information. As many as five printouts will be sent during the year, depending on the response rate and the need for additional listings.
Some divisions have their secretary/treasurer, membership chair, or another division member process the applications and payments for new division memberships and affiliations. Others have hired administrative staff to handle this responsibility. Of this latter group, some divisions have signed a memorandum of understanding with APA for Division Services to perform this function, and others have hired an individual or firm outside of APA. The service most often selected from the menu of administrative services offered by Division Services is processing the division's new APA memberships and its new and renewing affiliations.
Note: Division Services is part of the Governance Affairs Directorate of APA. Although they work closely with the APA Membership Office, they are not part of that department. More information.
Members and Associates
The divisions should notify the Membership Department of all new Members and Associates (the Membership Department does not track division memberships for any Affiliate categories). Names may be submitted throughout the year. New division memberships will be added monthly by the membership staff. After the end of August, memberships will be applied to the following year, as memberships are always for a calendar year (January-December). In September, the APA Membership Department will send renewal notices including divisions to all Members and Associates.
It is the responsibility of the division secretary/treasurer or membership chair or whomever they have appointed to accept or reject new division memberships, report them to the APA Membership Office, and notify Members and Associates of election or rejection by the division. Divisions will also determine the amount to charge and collect these fees for new memberships for the current year. The Membership Department will ensure that new division memberships are included (1) on the renewal notices for the following year and (2) in the next Directory. In order to ensure that new division Members and Associates will be billed for the following year, names must be received by the Membership Department within five days following the APA convention (see "Division Assessments").
When an Associate is transferred to Member status in the APA, any Associate membership that he/she may hold in divisions is automatically changed to Member. If the division has alternative practices, it is the responsibility of the division to notify the Membership Department of that information. Lists of transfers may be requested by division secretaries/treasurers along with the lists of new APA Members and Associates.
Newly accepted International Affiliates, High School Teacher Affiliates, Community College Teacher Affiliates, and Student Affiliates of APA receive a list of divisions and contact persons for each. APA Affiliates receive a Division Interest Form in their annual renewal notice, just as Members and Associates do.
The same procedure is followed by the Membership Department staff (sending lists and labels to divisions); however, each division handles its own Affiliate memberships and should not report them to the APA Membership Department unless there is a division journal published by APA/EPF. If there is a journal, names of all individuals who should get the journal should be submitted so that subscriptions can be entered. This applies to all categories of membership and affiliation that receive the journal as a benefit of belonging to the division.
At this time the Membership Department does not track division affiliations. (The Division Services Office of APA, which does track division affiliations for some divisions, is not part of the Membership Department.) This is due to the fact that most division affiliates are not active APA members and therefore have no record in the APA database. The division will need to send renewal notices to its affiliates each year, and will need to report the renewing affiliates to the APA Membership Department only if they are to receive an APA/EPF journal.
Student Affiliates who upgrade to Member in APA should inform their divisions so that the divisions can change their membership category and inform the APA Membership Department about their division membership.
Divisions should inform the Membership Department about all categories of membership and affiliation, especially newly created ones. This is usually covered in the annual exchange about membership rates. This information is very helpful in answering inquiries from individuals who identify themselves as division members but do not belong to APA.
Membership in a Newly Established Division
In its first year, a division will have only Members because the division leadership will not have had time to develop procedures and criteria for Fellow status (see below and see here) and because Associates and Affiliates are not eligible to petition for a new division. Each petitioner has accepted membership in the new division as a result of the agreement he/she has made in signing the establishing petition.
Standards for Fellow Status
An APA Member becomes an APA Fellow through a division. Nominations for APA Fellow are made through a division of which he/she is a Member and forwarded to the APA Membership Committee for evaluation. The names of those individuals approved for election to Initial Fellow status are submitted to the Board of Directors for their recommendation. The Board of Directors then forwards their recommendations to Council for election as Fellows during their meeting at the annual convention.
According to the APA Bylaws (Article II, Section 3, "the minimum requirements for Fellow status shall be (a) a doctoral degree, as defined in Section 5, (b) prior status as a Member for at least one year, (c) active engagement at the time of nomination in the advancement of psychology in any of its aspects, (d) five years of acceptable professional experience subsequent to the granting of the doctoral degree."
The requirement of a doctoral degree in psychology, as defined in Article II, Section 5 of the APA Bylaws, or the requirement of five years of acceptable professional experience subsequent to granting of a doctoral degree, may be waived for Fellow status by Council upon submission of evidence of outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology. In asking for waivers of the technical requirements for Fellow status, it is incumbent upon the individuals proposing the waiver to provide reasonably persuasive evidence to support the request. It is not sufficient that such a waiver is simply recommended by a division, nor is it the responsibility of the APA Membership Committee to develop or to document the case.
The following guidelines were approved by Council in September 1980:
Each division should employ orderly procedures for ensuring the nomination of appropriate and deserving potential Fellows.
Divisions should be encouraged (but not required) to ask nominees to provide a self-generated written statement setting forth their accomplishments that warrant nomination to Fellow status (we are aware that several divisions prefer that the Member not know of his/her nomination).
Evaluators at the division level should submit to the division committee concerned a narrative explanation of their decisions, and, when the decision is supportive of the nomination, all materials reviewed by the division committee should be forwarded to the APA Membership Committee.
It is the division's responsibility to determine whom it wishes to recommend and to prepare the nominations as described above, verifying the information before submission to the APA Membership Committee.
Election of Initial Fellows
In July, the Membership Department sends detailed procedures for submission of nominations for Initial Fellow status to division Fellow chairs. Each division handles the call for nominations and compiles the necessary documentation for each nominee for Fellow status using a schedule that will allow for receipt of these materials by the Membership Department no later than February 20. The following materials are required for each nominee:
One completed copy of the Uniform Fellow Application, or its equivalent with the usual supporting documents. Divisions are responsible for distributing the applications to candidates. The application may be completed either by the nominee or by the division, and are available from the Membership Department.
At least three endorsing statements written in the last calendar year and from current APA Members. Endorsing statements may be in the form of letters, or the Standard Evaluation Form (Fellow) may be used. These forms are also available from the Membership Department.
Supporting material (vita, publications indicating "R" for refereed).
In the case of a request for a waiver of the technical requirements, a statement from the division membership/fellow committee or executive committee should be included outlining the reasons why a waiver should be recommended.
The APA Membership Committee meets in March to make initial recommendations on the nominations submitted. The Membership Department sends each division or Fellows chair a report on the initial recommendations of the APA Membership Committee. The Membership Committee will include the reason for rejection and/or deferral for any nominee not recommended. The division may submit additional information to strengthen a nomination and request reconsideration at the APA Membership Committee meeting during the annual convention, or the division may withdraw the nomination and inform the rejected or deferred nominee of the action of the APA Membership Committee.
The APA Membership Committee submits a final list of Initial Fellow nominees to the Board of Directors for comments and approval at its annual convention meeting. A final list will be presented to Council for election at its annual convention meeting with an effective date of January 1.
Since the election of Initial Fellows is an APA function, it is APA's responsibility to inform Members of their new status as Fellows. Therefore, shortly after the annual convention meeting, the President and APA Membership Committee Chair send formal notification to each new Fellow of his/her election as a Fellow of APA indicating the nominating division(s) and that certificates are ordered. The dues statement and the Directory for the following year will indicate the new status, Fellow of both APA and the nominating division(s). The list of Fellows elected by Council, together with the names of the nominating division(s), is published in a subsequent issue of the American Psychologist.
Individuals who held Fellow status in the APA before the reorganization of the APA in 1945 may remain Fellows in the APA without division membership. Fellows have the right to later resign from divisions through which they have obtained Fellow status.
Election of Current Fellows
A Fellow of APA may apply to any division of which he is a Member for Fellow status in that division. It is the division's responsibility to determine if the individual meets the criteria set for division Fellow and then to vote to elect the individual. Current Fellows recommended by the division's membership/fellows committee should be submitted (along with their membership record number) to the Membership Department no later than 5 calendar days after the APA convention. The list of Fellows will be checked by membership staff for verification of Fellow status in APA and membership in the division. Once the individual is elected to division Fellow status, it is the division's responsibility to notify the individual of his/her division Fellow status.
These new division Fellows will be incorporated into APA membership records and the dues statements. The Directory for the following year will reflect Fellow status in these divisions.