Accreditation for Psychology Programs


Updated June 14, 2024 · 3 Min Read

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Find out how to check a psychology program's accreditation, why accreditation matters, and what kind of accreditation to look for. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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In the age of online learning, students need to balance their need for flexibility with their need for a valid degree. Accreditation, no matter the format, meets quality education standards and prepares you for your career. In psychology, state boards require accreditation for licensure because it guarantees graduates are prepared to practice successfully.

Find out more about psychology accreditation, the types of accreditation, and why you should ensure your school and psychology program are accredited.

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What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation means that a university, college, or academic program meets high standards. Accrediting agencies began to help learners determine whether a college or university offers a quality educational experience.

Accreditation is awarded by one of the many private agencies that either the Department of Education (ED) or the nonprofit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has given authority.

There are two main types of accreditation: institutional and specialized/programmatic. Institutional accreditation applies to agencies that evaluate entire colleges or universities. Programmatic accreditation applies to a department or program within an institution. Two main programmatic accreditation agencies accredit psychology programs, depending on the degree level.

  1. 1
    The American Psychological Association (APA) runs the Commission on Accreditation, which accredits doctoral graduate degrees, doctoral-level internships, and postdoctoral programs in psychology.
  2. 2
    The Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) accredits master's programs in psychology and counseling in regionally accredited colleges and universities.

Programs in related disciplines, such as social work and counseling, receive accreditation from different agencies. You can find the relevant accreditation agency for your study area by visiting the ED and CHEA websites.

Regional Versus National Accreditation

When researching a school or program's accreditation, you may come across the terms "regional accreditation" and "national accreditation." In 2020, the ED removed the distinction between regional and national accreditation.

Regionally accredited schools were considered more prestigious because their accreditation standards were stricter. National accreditation was considered less rigorous and was often associated with for-profit institutions. State licensing boards only let individuals who had graduated from regionally accredited institutions sit for licensing exams.

However, higher education institutions and state licensing bodies have slowly updated their requirements to reflect the ED's change. You may notice in your research that many still only accept individuals who graduated from regionally accredited institutions or programs with programmatic accreditation.

If you plan to become a psychologist, counselor, social worker, or mental health care professional that requires a license to practice, you must meet the requirements of your state's licensing board. If your state still requires a degree from a regionally accredited institution, this is crucial to know before beginning an academic program.

Why Does Accreditation Matter?

Most employers require you to earn a degree from an accredited institution because it indicates you have received a quality education.

Graduating from a regionally accredited institution and an accredited psychology program is the only way to qualify for a clinical psychologist or mental health counselor license. With licensure, you can work in many settings that unlicensed professionals cannot because of state, federal, and insurance reimbursement policies.

To become a clinical psychologist, you must meet the licensing requirements of your state's licensing board. This typically requires a doctoral degree in psychology from an APA-accredited program.

Investing your money and time in completing a program that doesn't qualify you for the necessary license or certification to start your career would be disappointing. This is why it's important to determine the requirements to become licensed in your state and the designated accreditation agency before enrolling.

How to Make Sure a School or Program Is Accredited

Most colleges or universities display accreditation status on their websites. However, degree mills, sometimes known as diploma mills, may use tricky wording or advertise accreditation by a fraudulent agency to deceive potential students.

Use the ED's search engine and/or the CHEA's search engine to find out:

  • If the institution or program is accredited by an ED- or CHEA-approved agency
  • Which ED- or CHEA-approved agencies accredit the institution and each of its accredited programs
  • What kind of accreditation do they hold

Check your state licensing board's website to see:

  • What kind of accreditation is currently required or preferred
  • Whether they require regional, national, or programmatic accreditation
  • If the licensing board's requirement lines up with the accreditation your university or program possesses

Page last reviewed on June 4, 2024

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