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How Can Graduating From a PCSAS-Accredited Program Help Students Reach Their Goals?

Two important areas where clinical psychology doctoral students may want to explore is the relationship between accreditation and the psychology internship year as well as the relationship between accreditation and licensure policies in the United States.

The Psychology Internship Year

Each individual internship site independently decides on its inclusion criteria for admitting students. Currently, APPIC allows students from PCSAS programs, including programs that have moved to PCSAS-only accreditation, to participate in their match system. Importantly, internship requirements change yearly and may not be reflected on the internship programs’ websites. Aspiring interns may wish to ask sites directly if they have questions regarding internship inclusion criteria.

Please note that PCSAS-accredited programs emphasize the integration of clinical and research training. If you’re interested in internships with a strong research component that integrates research into clinical practice and clinical practice into research, these programs may align well with your career goals. In fact, graduates of PCSAS-accredited programs may be more competitive for internship programs with a research component, which, in turn, would likely further advance the graduates careers in clinical psychology and clinical science.

Gaining Licensure to Practice in the United States:

The licensure process in the United States can be confusing in that licensure is operated at the state level and not the federal level. Hence, the rules and policies concerning licensure vary from state to state.  Some states require graduation from an accredited clinical psychology program. Some states require only that the university in which the program resides be accredited by a recognized regional accreditor. Many states offer alternative pathways to licensure if the applicant does not meet the specific accreditation requirements (e.g., usually a mixture of required coursework and clinical experience). Students should be aware that there are states that require graduation from an APA or CPA-accredited institution and have no clear alternate pathway to licensure. PCSAS continues to work to get recognized in all 50 states.

Graduating from a PCSAS-accredited program can enhance your qualifications when applying for licensure as a clinical psychologist. Licensing boards often recognize the rigorous training, the high quality, and the scientific focus that are characteristics of PCSAS-accredited programs. If you intend to practice in a different state or country, some jurisdictions may offer licensure reciprocity or streamlined licensure processes for graduates of accredited programs. Also, having graduated from a PCSAS-accredited program may give you a competitive advantage when applying for licensure, as it demonstrates a commitment to high standards of training and scientific excellence.

In sum, the specific requirements for licensure and internship placements vary by jurisdiction and institution and are subject to change. As of September 2023, about a quarter of the states recognize PCSAS explicitly and two-thirds recognize APA explicitly in their policies. The remaining states either do not have language about an accreditation requirement or they do not require accreditation from a program-level accreditor like PCSAS or APA-CoA. PCSAS has resources available for programs interested in approaching their state licensure boards to request that PCSAS accreditation be recognized for licensing purposes and will assist in that process.