How does a program become accredited?
APA Accreditation is voluntary, meaning that programs choose whether and when to apply for it. The process begins when a program submits a self-study, a document that includes:
Training goals, objectives and practices
Student, faculty and financial resources
Program policies and procedures
Competencies students are expected to obtain
Actual outcome data that demonstrates the achievement of these competencies
The self-study will undergo an initial review, with the following possible:
Approval of a site visit, meaning that the self-study materials are in place for a site visit team of professional colleagues to conduct an on-site review of the program
Denial of a site visit, meaning that the self-study does not demonstrate sufficient consistency with the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (G&P) in order for a site visit to be of value to the program.
After the site visit, the site visit team submits a report to the CoA, and the program has an opportunity to review and comment on that report. After this process is complete, the program is placed on the CoA’s next program review agenda. The CoA awards accreditation to those programs judged to be in accordance with the G&P. The CoA can also deny accreditation to applicant programs if the program does not meet the G&P.
How long does this process take? The process of accreditation takes on average about 18 months from the time a program submits a self-study until the CoA reaches a decision. The process may take longer, as the CoA can defer making a decision either prior to or after the site visit in order to request further information from the program. If accredited, the effective accreditation date is the date of the site visit. There is no guarantee that an applicant program will obtain accredited status, or even be granted a site visit. This means that as a student, there is a risk involved in entering a program that is not yet accredited.
The Accreditation Operating Procedures (PDF, 253KB) is the document that fully articulates the accreditation process.