How could a program's accreditation status affect how many of its students find internships in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Programs Match?
If students attend an accredited program, internship sites have some level of assurance that their education meets the basic standards of the profession, says Susan Zlotlow, PhD, director of APA's Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation. The office supports the mission of APA's Committee on Accreditation, which evaluates professional psychology doctoral programs, internships and postdocs for accreditation.
Many internships prefer students from APA-accredited doctoral programs, she says, because they are continually evaluated to ensure that they offer organized, sequential training curricula and qualified faculty in adequate numbers. They also offer a certain level of supervision and sufficient physical resources, such as library resources, computers and office space.
APA's Committee on Accreditation--made up of two members of the general public; 14 individuals nominated by nine different psychology training organizations; four members jointly nominated to represent professional practice by APA's Committee for the Advancement for Professional Practice and Board of Educational Affairs; and a student nominated by the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students--is the only organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit doctoral-level professional psychology programs. It also evaluates internship and postdoctoral programs. Programs voluntarily apply for accreditation and must conduct a self-study of their curricula and resources, undergo public comment periods and allow committee site visitors to conduct site evaluations as part of the evaluation process.
Accreditation is important to students for other reasons, Zlotlow notes: Attending an accredited program assures students that their program offers grievance procedures and provides feedback to students at least annually, among other things.
-D. Smith Bailey
For more information, see "Why accreditation matters" in the April 2004 gradPSYCH at http://gradpsych.apags.org/apr04/accreditation.cfm.