Question: Are There APA-Accredited Master’s in Psychology Programs? APA vs MPCAC Accreditation
Answer: No. The American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation only accredits psychology programs at the doctoral level. There are no APA-accredited master’s programs.
Currently, the APA Commission on Accreditation (CoA) accredits “doctoral graduate programs in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology,” plus a blend of these disciplines (apa.org). Additionally, the APA-CoA accredits doctoral internships and postdoctoral residencies in certain areas of psychology. The APA has a listing of over 400 accredited doctoral programs to guide graduate students in choosing a doctoral psychology or counseling program. This can be helpful to professionals who desire to become clinical psychologists, as most states require a doctoral degree and state licensure to practice independently in this field.
Although the APA does not currently accredit master’s in psychology and counseling programs, the process to begin accrediting master’s programs is in Phase 1 of three phases. APA’s CoA created a Master’s Accreditation Work Group to develop processes, policies, and procedures for master’s program accreditation with tentative implementation in 2024.
APA master’s accreditation will cover masters in health services psychology (HSP) programs, including the same types of programs accredited at the doctoral level. This will also include distance learning, campus-based, and hybrid programs. As noted above, at this time, the APA does not accredit masters in psychology programs.
Who Accredits Master’s in Psychology Programs?
Master’s in psychology programs are accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC), which accredits programs that are offered on campus, online, or through a hybrid of on-campus and online instruction. MPCAC accreditation is a process by which psychology and counseling master’s degree programs are assessed and approved according to its published standards. This council accredits master’s programs in psychology and counseling that educate students in science-based counseling and psychological services, whether or not they lead to Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure.
The MPCAC Accreditation Board is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA), which advocates for the value of program accreditation in higher education. MPCAC was also recognized in May of 2021 by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is a nonprofit, independent organization that reviews and recognizes accrediting bodies in higher education and ensures their effectiveness in improving the quality of higher education programs.
While accreditation by MPCAC is voluntary for colleges and universities, it ensures that their master’s in psychology programs meet high standards and that their curricula promote a scientist-practitioner model. According to MPCAC standards, the program should be recognized as educating counseling and psychological service practitioners, and it must use evidence-based psychological principles and theories that apply specifically to a variety of clients and practice settings.
MPCAC accreditation standards include:
- The program must have a mission statement that guides the curriculum and reflects standards for students to bring scholarship and reflection to their future work in psychology, and understand cultural diversity, psychology concepts, methodology, and application.
- The program curriculum should focus on a scientific practice model, utilizing scholarly and research literature to produce practitioners who will keep current in their field of psychology, using research and knowledge in psychology, diversity, and awareness to inform their practice.
- The program must comprise at least 60 semester credits, be equivalent to at least two academic years of full-time study, and require a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical experiences covering at least two semesters.
- The program must have a program director who coordinates the entire psychology program and addresses inquiries about the program. In addition, the program director and all faculty must hold a graduate degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field and have professional work experience in the area of psychology, be a member of appropriate professional organizations, and be involved in the instruction of students through teaching courses and supervising students during research and clinical experiences.
Note: Counseling programs are accredited by both the MPCAC and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). For more information about CACREP and MPCAC, please see our FAQ entitled: What Is the Difference Between CACREP and MPCAC Accreditation?
More Psychology Program FAQs:
FAQ: Are There Online Master’s in Psychology Programs That Do Not Require the GRE or That Offer GRE Waivers?
FAQ: How Long Does it Take to Become a Clinical Psychologist?
FAQ: How Long Does it Take to Become a Forensic Psychologist?
FAQ: What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?
FAQ: What is the Difference between an Applied Behavior Analyst and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?