Commission on Accreditation (CoA) Update February 2012

Elizabeth Klonoff, PhD

Carl Paternite, PhD
Associate Chair, Program Review

Joyce Illfelder-Kaye, PhD
Associate Chair, Quality Assurance

CoA Policy Meeting Actions

The Commission on Accreditation (CoA) held its annual policy meeting February 3-5 in Washington, DC. This meeting was preceded by an orientation day for new members and a full-day “calibration” exercise to continue working on the consistency of decisions across reviewers. As is typical of the annual policy meeting, no programs were reviewed at this meeting. Instead, the CoA tackled a number of important policy issues that will be relevant in the upcoming year.

Implementing Regulations
  • Revisions to Implementing Regulation (IR) C-20 (PDF, 698KB) were discussed by the CoA and a 30-day period of public comment to begin on or about February 15, 2012 was approved. (See page 2).

  • The doctoral policy group continued its work to develop an IR that provides better guidance on the outcome data required of doctoral programs. Similar to IR C-30 (PDF, 628KB) adopted in 2011 for internship and postdoctoral residency programs, this new IR will assist programs with the collection of meaningful data to inform their self-study processes.

  • The threshold number for the “percent of students accepted into an internship” in IR D.4-7 (b) (PDF, 556KB) will be set in the fall of 2012 to become effective  with the 2013 Annual Report Online (ARO).

New Accreditation Status for Applicant Programs

Following discussions within the three policy groups (internship, doctoral, and postdoctoral) and the full CoA, the Commission overwhelmingly voted to direct the CoA Executive Committee to further investigate a process for “pre-accreditation” or “candidacy” and to consult with other accrediting bodies that offer a similar status.

Discussion with ASPPB

The CoA conducted a telephone conference with the representatives of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) to facilitate communication between the two groups and to address areas of common concern related to the following: requiring doctoral accreditation for licensure; defining residency requirements in doctoral programs; curriculum/syllabi review as part of quality assurance; the CoA’s formal complaint process; the feasibility of an ASPPB liaison for CoA policy meetings; and the potential for a joint policy meeting in the future.

Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation

Most notably, the Commission approved a motion authorizing its Executive Committee to develop a process to examine the effectiveness of the current Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation (G&P) and report to the full Commission by July 2012.

Reminder: All IRs are available on the front page of the OPCA Website (under ‘Criteria and Procedures’), presented by relevant Section.  All IRs have recently been reorganized and updated to improve users’ ability to navigate through them.

CoA Welcomes 6 New Members

Six new members of CoA began their their terms of service on January 1, 2012. CoA welcomes these individuals and recognizes their dedication to quality assurance in psychology education and training. 

  • Loretta Braxton, PhD

  • Jaime Diaz-Granados, PhD

  • Kurt Freeman, PhD

  • Mary Beth Kenkel, PhD

  • L. Stephen Miller, PhD

  • Tammi Vacha-Haase, PhD

CoA Meeting Dates 2012 (Washington, DC)

  • March 22-25, 2012: Spring Program Review Meeting

  • July 19-22, 2012: Summer Program Review Meeting

  • October 18-21, 2012: Fall Program Review Meeting

CoA 5-Year Summary Report

For a number of years, CoA published an annual report that included the data collected from accredited programs’ ARO data.  For a variety of resource reasons, that document has not been published for several years. The OPCA has compiled a summary report that illustrates the trends and changes in accredited programs over the past 5 years, including the size of programs at each level.  The report also includes a summary of all of the major policy initiatives over this important 5-year period, including the transition from a Committee to a Commission on Accreditation. The report was mailed to all accredited programs and active site visitors in January 2012. The report, and other descriptive data, is also available online.

Site Visitor Corps

Are you interested in becoming a member of the CoA Site Visitor Corps? Recruitment is ongoing for this critical component of the program review process. Please review the FAQ—Becoming an APA Site Visitor or email OPCA.

If you are a member of the CoA Site Visitor Corps - are you currently available for site visits? In order to keep the accreditation database accurate, site visitors are urged to contact OPCA by email with updates. Site visitors that have changed employment settings or have gained additional experience are encouraged to complete an updated Site Visitor Information Form (PDF, 41KB) and return it to the OPCA at the address provided on page 4 of this Update.

Public Comment

Implementing Regulation C-20

At this time, the CoA is seeking public comment on revisions to Implementing Regulation (IR) C-20. This IR concerns programs’ disclosure of education/training outcomes and information to prospective doctoral students. Currently, IR C-20 (PDF, 628KB) requires programs to update their public information by October 1 of each year. An audit of accredited doctoral program’s public information prior to the February CoA policy meeting revealed great variability and an overall lack of consistency and compliance with this important requirement. To better clarify the expectations of doctoral programs and ensure accurate public information, the CoA has created a new template that it hopes to require of all accredited doctoral programs. Although the information requested has not changed, the CoA believes that the increased structure will lead to more accurate and comparable information across programs that will be valuable to prospective students and the public.

To download the proposed policies, view comments received, or register to post comments, visit the Accreditation Public Comment website. Comments may be submitted as an individual or as part of a group. Please contact the OPCA at (202) 336-5979 with any questions or issues regarding the public comment system.

Reminders For Accredited Programs

Program Review Decision Outcomes

Consistent with AOP 4.5 (PDF, 111KB), programs under review will be sent written notification of the review outcome 30 days following the final day of the program review meeting. All meetings end on Sunday, and authorized representatives of reviewed programs may contact the office after 12 noon ET on the following Tuesday to obtain the final decision. Note: OPCA will only be able to provide the year of the program’s next site visit (for accredited programs) over the telephone. Programs are randomly assigned to a review cycle the year prior to their site visit and will be notified of the due date for their self-study at that time.

Notify the CoA of Program Director Changes

Please remember to notify the OPCA in writing (email is fine) if there is a change in the program’s training director, and provide the contact information (including the e-mail address) for that individual. If the new director was not previously involved with the program, his/her CV should also be provided for Office records. This is consistent with IR C-19, which requires programs to notify CoA in advance of any substantive changes. This will also ensure that the correct individual(s) for the program is listed in our database and receives all of CoA’s correspondence. 

2012 Annual Report Online (ARO)

The 2012 Annual Report Online (ARO) will be open starting Monday April 16, 2012. This year’s ARO will be on a different software platform. Directors will receive new login information and will be invited to attend a webinar previewing the site in early April. More updates will be forthcoming. Please telephone the Research office at (202) 336-6016 or email with questions.

How Accreditation Operating Procedures (AOP) Section 2.3 is used

Withdrawal from Accredited Status

Withdrawal can occur three ways: 1) At any time, a program may voluntarily withdraw from accreditation by notifying the CoA; 2) The CoA will remove a program from the list of accredited programs when the CoA has determined that a program is no longer in existence; and 3) Voluntarily withdrawing by failing to meet certain requirements for accreditation. Section 2.3 of the AOP (PDF, 111KB) concerns the actions taken by the CoA to withdraw a program from accredited status.

Voluntary Withdrawal resulting in Termination in Status

The third category of withdrawal rests upon a program’s failure to meet deadlines in a timely way for information and/or payments due to the CoA as noted in the G&P and AOP. A program is deemed to have terminated its accredited status at the occurrence of a trigger event, such as, when the program does not…

  • provide a self-study by the due date;

  • schedule a site visit within the review cycle designated by the CoA;

  • submit its annual report (ARO) by the due date;

  • submit its annual fee by the due date; or 

  • submit information requested during the course of program review by the due date.


Programs are notified in writing no later than 30 days in advance of the effective date of the program’s deemed withdrawal. This period enables the program one final opportunity to respond to the concern. For program’s failing to meet the obligations required of accredited programs, the effective date of withdrawal will be no more than 60 days following the occurrence of a trigger event. The CoA notifies the public of the status change. A program that has withdrawn under section 2.3 of the AOP may reapply as an applicant for accreditation.

Clearly, there are extenuating circumstances that preclude a program from meeting its obligations. In these instances, the president or chief executive officer of the program’s institution may petition CoA for an extension to the deadline. Programs are encouraged to advise OPCA staff of these situations and receive guidance on how to avoid withdrawal.

Although accredited programs are regularly scheduled for periodic review between 3 and 7 years, accreditation status is reviewed annually by the OPCA through a program’s ARO submission and its payment of the annual fee assessment. This ”reaffirmation” of accreditation is critical to CoA’s duty for ensuring each program’s continued adherence to the G&P, and for maintaining quality control in professional psychology education and training. Section 2.3 of the AOP is one mechanism to monitor quality and to protect the public interest.


Current Program Counts (as of November 23, 2011)

  Accredited Programs Applicant Programs Under Review
PhD PsyD PhD PsyD
Doctoral Programs Clinical 173 61 6 5
Counseling 67 3 0 0
School 55 6 3 0
Combined 5 3 0 0
Total Doctoral 373 14
Internship Programs Total Internships 470 20
Traditional – Clinical 35 11
Specialty – Clinical Neuropsychology 17 2

Specialty – Clinical Health Psycholgy

8 0
Specialty – Clinical Child Psychology 5 4
Specialty – Rehabilitation Psychology 2 3
Specialty – Forensic Psychology 0 1
Total Postdoctoral 67 21
Total   910 55

Special Topics Spotlight

This is the fourth installment of a planned series of educative topics to be featured within the periodic CoA Updates. Please email us if there is an area related to CoA’s policies, procedures, or processes that you would like to see addressed in a future edition.