What does it mean when a program is not accredited?

Accreditation is a voluntary process, as programs choose whether and when to apply for initial accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation (CoA) has no basis for evaluating programs that have not applied. View the current list of applicant programs for initial accreditation.

When accreditation is denied or revoked, that means that the program has been deemed inconsistent with the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (G&P).  When the CoA denies or revokes accreditation, those programs are publicly listed as such on the CoA Web site.

What if I want to study psychology at the undergraduate or master’s level?

The APA Commission on Accreditation only accredits programs at the doctoral level. There are no APA-accredited bachelor’s or master’s programs.

If you have an interest in studying psychology at the undergraduate level, you may want to visit the website of the APA Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education.

If you would like to obtain your master’s degree in psychology or would like general information on graduate school, please visit the websites of the APA Office of Graduate Education and Training and the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students.

Are programs outside the United States accredited?

Currently, the accrediting authority of the Commission on Accreditation (CoA) extends to programs in the United States, its territories and Canada. The CoA currently accredits several programs in Puerto Rico.

In order to be eligible for accreditation by the APA, doctoral programs must be sponsored by an institution of higher education accredited by a nationally recognized regional accrediting body in the United States or, in the case of Canadian programs, the institution must be publicly recognized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada as a member in good standing.

The APA CoA will no longer accredit programs in Canada as of September 1, 2015, in accordance with the revised agreement between the APA and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Accreditation of programs in Canada will be handled solely by the CPA as of that date. No new applications from programs in Canada have been accepted by the APA after January 1, 2008. This new agreement follows several years of discussion and surveys, a 6-month period of public comment in 2004-2005, and approval by the APA Council of Representatives in 2007.

The CoA does not evaluate foreign degrees. Please contact the appropriate state licensing body for more information on this issue.

Will I have trouble getting a job or becoming licensed if I don't go to an accredited program?

This depends on your own career objectives and the law in the state(s) in which you wish to practice. In the United States, each state makes its own laws regarding the educational requirements for licensure of psychologists. If you wish to pursue licensure, it is important to know that some states require that students have a degree from an APA-accredited program. You should check with the licensing body in the state(s) in which you intend to practice (visit the ASPPB website).

In addition, some agencies of the federal government only hire graduates of APA-accredited programs. If you wish to work for such an agency, please contact them directly for further information on hiring requirements.

Which are the best psychology programs? How can I decide which psychology program to attend?

The Commission on Accreditation (CoA) accredits psychology programs; it does not provide qualitative information about programs, nor does it compare or "rank" them. The decision about what program is "best" is up to the individual student.

The CoA encourages students to look for a program that meets both their professional and personal goals. Ask practical questions such as: Does the program offer the type of training I want? Can I live here? Is it affordable? Is the institution too big/small? Does the program appear to have a faculty and staff with whom I can work? Talk to the faculty, students, and alumni about your questions, concerns and about your specific interests.

You can also ask programs about their outcomes, such as the types of jobs their graduates obtain.  All APA-accredited doctoral programs are required to provide prospective students with data on their time to completion, costs, internship acceptance, attrition and licensure (See Implementing Regulation C-20 for details).

How can I verify which programs are accredited?

The official listing of accredited professional psychology programs can be found in the December edition of the American Psychologist. A supplement listing of accredited programs is periodically produced to update the most recent American Psychologist listing. Complete listings are available on request from the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation. In addition, an up-to-date listing of accredited programs is provided by electronic means on this website, but this listing is for informational purposes only and should not be used for official credential review, as it does not include a full historical record.

This website also provides a current list of programs applying for initial accreditation in order to allow for third-party comment. Please contact programs directly to find out whether they have plans to apply for accreditation in the future.

Are there any accredited programs that are offered online?

At this time there are no APA-accredited programs available that ONLY use online methods of instruction. Some programs may offer courses online, or utilize some nontraditional/distance education methods, but the Commission on Accreditation (CoA) does not maintain information on the courses offered, the modality of such courses or which programs might be offering them.

All accredited programs must meet all provisions of the Guidelines and Principles (G&P) (PDF, 460KB), including eligibility, curriculum/training plan, program resource, diversity, student-faculty relations, self-assessment, public disclosure and relationship with accrediting body requirements, regardless of the methods of instruction they may use.

When can I say I am a graduate of an accredited program?
Award of "accredited" status is effective on the final day of the site visit preceding the Commission on Accreditation’s (CoA) decision to grant such status. Students who are in the program on that date and subsequently complete the program are considered to be graduates of an accredited program, provided, of course, that the program maintains an accredited status through the date of the students' graduation. Thus, programs are accredited beginning with the site visit, and accreditation is not retroactive.