Commission on Accreditation (CoA) Update May 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 first program review meeting of the year on March 22-25 in Washington, D.C. The CoA reviewed 93 doctoral, internship and postdoctoral residency programs for either initial or continued accreditation along with 12 requests for changes to programs’ accredited status (e.g., “Accredited, inactive” status for a training year). Decisions made at the meeting are available on the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation (OPCA) website. Also, complete listings of accredited and applicant programs have been updated to reflect actions taken at the March meeting.
Revised Implementing Regulation: C-20

Following a period of public comment, the CoA approved revisions to Implementing Regulation (IR) C-20. This IR concerns programs’ disclosure of education/training outcomes and information to prospective doctoral students and to the public. Further, IR C-20 requires programs to update this information in all public materials by Oct. 1 of each year. An audit of accredited doctoral programs’ 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 approved a new template that it will now 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. The template tables and instructions are now available on the OPCA website.

Public Comment

The following three policies are currently out for public comment through July 16, 2012. All comments will be reviewed at the CoA’s July 19-22, 2012, meeting.



Accreditation Operating Procedures (AOP)

Proposed revisions to the Accreditation Operating Procedures (AOP) would allow for an accreditation “eligibility” status and a new accredited status of “accredited, on contingency” for internships and postdoctoral residencies. This would provide an alternative developmentally sequenced path to full accreditation for programs not choosing to follow the existing application process toward full accreditation.

Threshold for students placed into accredited internships for accredited Clinical and Counseling programs

Proposed revisions to IR D.4-7(b) to set at 50% the threshold for the “percent of students accepted into an accredited internship” for accredited doctoral Clinical and Counseling programs.

CoA review process for doctoral programs

Five new implementing regulations (IRs) to clarify the process used by the CoA for full review of doctoral programs (i.e., periodic review) as well as reviewing programs’ continuing assurance of quality (i.e., annual review). Four specific issues reflected in decision letters from the CoA are addressed by this IR series: student selection and admission; student attrition; internship placement; and licensure.

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.

Reminders for Accredited Programs

Notify the CoA of Program Director Changes

Please remember to notify the OPCA in writing (by 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 training 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) receive all of CoA’s correspondence.

Site Visitor Corps

Workshops will be held on Aug. 1, 2012 (the day prior to APA convention) in Orlando, Fla. Full-day site visitor trainings for both doctoral and internship/postdoctoral programs will be offered. A half-day session for site visit team chairs will be conducted in the afternoon of Aug. 1. Current site visitors that have not attended a workshop within the past 3 years are urged to register for a workshop to learn about recent policy and procedural changes to the review process. Also, recruitment is ongoing for new site visitors. Please review the FAQ—Becoming an APA Site Visitor on the OPCA website or email OPCA for more information.

Active site visitors attending APA Convention are encouraged to obtain their ribbon at the Education Directorate booth (located in the APA Resource Center in the Convention Center) to affix to their convention badges. This ribbon identifies our Site Visit Corp volunteers and recognizes their service in fulfilling a critical component of the program review process.

2012 Annual Report Online (ARO)

The 2012 Annual Report Online (ARO) is expected to open on June 4, 2012. This year’s ARO will be on a different software platform. Later this spring, program directors will receive new login information and invitations to participate in instructional webinars. Please contact the Research office at (202) 336-6016 (or email) with questions.

The CoA also approved a new implementing regulation (IR D.8-6) ensuring that individual-level data submitted in the ARO is confidential and will be used solely for accreditation purposes. This IR will also afford programs an improved mechanism to track students, interns, and residents over years and across program leadership changes, in a manner consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Upcoming Important Dates

July 1

Last day to provide comments on the AOP changes, D.4-7(b) internship placement threshold, and doctoral review IRs.

July 19-22

Summer CoA Program Review Meeting

August 1

Site Visitor Workshops at APA Convention in Orlando, FL

August 3

CoA Open Forum at APA Convention: A conversation on the current G&P to evaluate what changes, if any, need to be made if revision of the G &P is pursued.

October 18-21

Fall CoA Program Review Meeting

Other CoA news

Recognition Review

Just as programs complete self-studies and are visited by a team of observers as part of the periodic review process, CoA undergoes similar reviews to maintain its recognition as an accrediting body. CoA is currently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) through the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In 2012, CoA is undergoing recognition review by both agencies.

Fee Changes

According to the APA governance documents, the CoA is a self-supporting entity within APA. Due to increased operating costs, combined with the costs involved with transitioning to an online infrastructure, CoA must increase its fees. Attempts were made to limit increases on internship and postdoctoral residencies. In order to minimize the increases for internships and postdoctoral programs, the fees for doctoral programs were increased significantly; based on a two-tier approach, contingent on program size.

January Changes to the AOP

Effective January 1, 2012, the CoA revised its Accreditation Operating Procedures (AOP) (PDF, 253KB) to set the timeframe from notice of concerns resulting in a decision of “accredited, on probation” to “revocation” to last no more than two years for a doctoral program and 1.5 years for an internship or postdoctoral residency program. Thus, programs not in compliance with the G&P may have their accreditation revoked more quickly than before. CoA adopted this change in order to be compliant with the USDE’s interpretation of regulations within the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.

Doctoral version of C-30

IR C-30 for internships and postdoctoral residencies provides clarification about the proximal and distal data that are required of programs in order for the CoA to make an accreditation decision. The Commission continues its work to draft a companion IR applicable to doctoral programs.

Revisiting the Guidelines and Principles (G&P)

The current Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation (G&P) became effective January 1, 1996.

The CoA has tasked its Executive Committee with reviewing the effectiveness of the G&P as currently conceptualized and written at each level (doctoral, internship, and postdoctoral). Input will be sought from all of the publics served by accreditation and a draft proposal for potential review of the G&P will be presented to the full CoA at its July meeting. In August, a conversation on the G&P is planned during the CoA Open Forum symposium at APA Convention on Friday, August 3, 2012. Further information will be available on the website early this summer.

Special Topics Spotlight: Accreditation Status: 3, 5 and 7 Years

The CoA grants accreditation of 3-7 years from the date of the most recent site visit. The number of years granted is based on the professional judgment of the CoA consistent with the following guidelines:

  • 7 Year Guideline: Compliance or substantial compliance with all domains of the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation (G&P). No serious deficiencies.
  • 5 Year Guideline: Multiple minor deficiencies exist and/or deficiencies have been recently corrected.
  • 3 Year Guideline: Program resource concerns, instability and/or serious deficiencies remain, but can be corrected in the near future (minor deficiencies typically addressed in the next self-study.)
  • The CoA may also assign a program "accredited, on probation" status. Although this is an accredited status, it is considered by the CoA to be an adverse action that serves as notice to the program, to its students, interns, or residents and to the public that in the professional judgment of the CoA, the accredited program is not operating in a manner consistent with the G&P and may have its accreditation revoked. Prior to this designation, a program is provided an opportunity to “show cause” why it should not be placed on probation by providing a written response to the issues of concern. A program not coming into compliance within two (2) CoA meetings after the “show cause” notice is assigned "accredited, on probation" status. This status is appealable within 30 days of receipt of written notice of the CoA decision.

In the event that a program continues to be substantively out of compliance with the G&P following "accredited, on probation" status, the CoA may revoke the program's accreditation. "Revocation of accreditation" is considered by the CoA to be an adverse action. This status is appealable within 30 days of receipt of written notice of the CoA decision. Additional information on all accreditation statuses can be found on pages 6-7 of the Accreditation Operating Procedures (PDF, 110KB).

Rationale for Accreditation Status Decisions

As an accreditor recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the APA CoA is expected to meet CHEA Recognition Standard 12B.3 requiring that an accrediting body, “…provides evidence that it has implemented: accreditation standards or policies that require institutions to distinguish accurately between programs that have achieved accredited status and those that have not.” The CoA’s status guidelines listed above are intentionally broad in order to reflect both the diversity of training/education models in professional psychology and to grant the peer-reviewers flexibility in decision-making. Checklist standards and rubrics offer convenience but are less useful at evaluating a program’s training or educational quality in terms of relevant contextual factors.

Current* Program Counts

Accredited Programs

Applicant Programs Under Review





Doctoral Programs





















Total Doctoral



Internship Programs

Total Internship



Postdoctoral Residency Programs

Traditional – Clinical



Specialty – Clinical Neuropsychology



Specialty – Clinical Health Psychology



Specialty – Clinical Child Psychology



Specialty – Rehabilitation Psychology



Specialty – Forensic Psychology



Total Postdoctoral







*As of April 25, 2012