Upfront

Argosy University will pay $3.3 million to 66 former students of its doctorate of education in counseling psychology (EdD-CP) program at its Denver campus to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the Colorado Attorney General's Office in December. Prosecutors accused Argosy of misleading students to believe that the program was APA accredited and could lead to licensure as a psychologist.

"Our investigation revealed a pattern of Argosy recklessly launching doctoral degree programs without substantiating or supporting that they led to the advertised outcomes," Colorado's Deputy Attorney General Jan Zavislan, said in a press release.

According to the court documents, investigators said that Argosy told students that its EdD-CP program was APA accredited or in the process of applying for APA accreditation, but neither was true. Colorado requires candidates for licensure to have graduated from an APA-accredited training program. APA has no record of the program's ever applying for accreditation, says APA's Susan Zlotlow, PhD, who directs APA's Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation.

Argosy and its parent company, Educational Management Corp., stated that the program never intended to apply for APA accreditation because APA does not accredit programs that meet only on weekends as the EdD-CP program did. The state's investigation also revealed that, in 2010, Argosy told EdD-CP students that the program no longer met Colorado's licensure requirements because the state's Board of Psychologist Examiners had changed its licensure rules. In fact, the board had not altered its licensure requirements since January 2006, before Argosy launched the EdD-CP program in 2007.

Argosy agreed to the settlement to resolve the lawsuit. "At Argosy University, student achievement is our top priority, and we are committed to constant improvement. It was important for us to cooperate with the Office of the Colorado Attorney General throughout this investigation and bring the matter to a final resolution," says Chris Hardman, of Educational Management Corp.

In addition to repaying the students' tuition and living expenses, the settlement also requires Argosy to stop advertising its Denver EdD-CP program as a psychology licensure-track program and to cease the claim that enrollment in the program leads to licensure. According to Hardman, "Argosy University, Denver, continues to enroll students in the non-licensure track of the program it launched in 2013."

APA's Commission on Accreditation lists programs that are accredited, applying for accreditation or withdrawing from accreditation.

— Jamie Chamberlin