What programs are APA accredited?
How does a program become accredited?

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.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is both a status and a process. As a status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency. As a process, accreditation reflects the fact that in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, the institution or program is committed to self-study and external review by one's peers in seeking not only to meet standards but to continuously seek ways in which to enhance the quality of education and training provided. Psychology's accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation (CoA), publishes guidelines and procedures by which its accreditation process is carried out. It also publishes a list of accredited programs annually in the December edition of the American Psychologist.

What kinds of programs are accredited?

Doctoral graduate programs in clinical, counseling, school psychology, other developed practice areas, and combinations of two or three of those areas. Predoctoral internships in the above areas may be accredited. Postdoctoral residencies in traditional (clinical, counseling, school) or specialty areas of professional psychology are also accredited.

The Commission on Accreditation does not accredit master’s level or undergraduate level programs in psychology.

Why is accreditation important?

Although graduating from an accredited program does not guarantee jobs or licensure for individuals, it may facilitate such achievement. It reflects the quality by which an educational institution or a program conducts its business. It speaks to a sense of public trust, as well as to professional quality.

As a student: Accreditation provides assurance that the program in which you are enrolled or are considering enrolling is engaged in continuous review and improvement of its quality, that it meets nationally endorsed standards in the profession, and that it is accountable for achieving what it sets out to do.

As a faculty member: Accreditation provides a formal process for ongoing evaluation and improvement of your program and faculty development outcomes, a process by which faculty, students and administration can work together in advancing the educational institution's mission.

As a psychologist: Accreditation provides a forum in which educators and practitioners of psychology can exchange ideas on future needs of the profession and ways in which to best address these needs in professional education and training.

As a member of the public: Accreditation ensures public accountability of a program or an institution -- that it has the means and demonstrates the outcomes for its educational process that are consistent with its goals and objectives.

What is the difference between APA accreditation and institutional accreditation?

The APA Commission on Accreditation is a specialized/professional accreditor. This means that APA accreditation only extends to specific doctoral graduate programs, predoctoral internships and postdoctoral residencies in professional psychology. The accredited status of one specific program does not extend to other programs in the same department or institution.

Regional accreditation covers entire institutions. There are six regional accrediting bodies in the United States, and each is authorized to accredit institutions in specific states, divided by geographic region. APA-accredited doctoral graduate programs must be housed in an institution that has regional accreditation. However, an institution may hold regional accreditation and not have any APA-accredited programs.

For more information on regional accrediting bodies, please visit their websites:

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Western Association of Schools and Colleges

For further information about accreditation in general, please visit the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors.

National accreditation also covers entire institutions, and national accrediting agencies operate across the entire United States. Many of their accredited institutions are single-purpose (such as for education in technology) or faith-based.

What happens when a program's accreditation is revoked?

An accredited program cannot have its accreditation revoked without first being placed on “accredited, on probation” status. Programs placed on “accredited, on probation” status will be reviewed in no fewer than one and no more than two years. This provides the public with notice that the program is not currently consistent with the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology (G&P) (PDF, 460KB).

Revocation of accreditation occurs when the Commission on Accreditation (CoA), in its review of a program on “accredited, on probation” status, has evidence that the program continues to be inconsistent with the G&P.

The effective date of the revocation is the date of the CoA meeting in which the decision was made. If the program appeals the CoA's decision to revoke, and that decision is upheld, the revocation will take effect 30 days after the appeal hearing is held. Individuals completing the program after that date are not considered to have completed an accredited program.

Are programs outside the United States accredited?

Until 2015, the Commission on Accreditation (CoA) accredited programs in the United States, its territories, and Canada. However, following many years of discussion and consideration, the APA CoA no longer accredit programs in Canada as of Sept. 1, 2015. In planning for this date, the APA and CPA approved and signed the First Street Accord in 2012 to establish mutual recognition of each agency's accreditation standards. 

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 as a psychologist or becoming licensed if I don't go to an accredited program?

Although graduating from an accredited program does not guarantee jobs or licensure for individuals, it may facilitate such achievement. It reflects the quality by which an educational institution or a program conducts its business. It speaks to a sense of public trust, as well as to professional quality.

How can I verify that a program is accredited?

The official listing of accredited professional psychology programs can be found in the December edition of the American Psychologist. A supplemental 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.