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Accreditation is voluntary, meaning that programs choose whether and when to apply for it.
First, 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; and actual outcome data that demonstrate the achievement of these competencies.
APA reviews the self-study. If it is accepted, a team of professional colleagues will conduct an on-site review of the program. If it is denied, that means the self-study did not demonstrate sufficient consistency with the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (G&P) (PDF, 460KB).
After the site visit, the site visit team submits a report to the Commission on Accreditation (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.
The Accreditation Operating Procedures (PDF, 253KB) fully articulate the accreditation process.