Understanding Accreditation


It is important to distinguish between the accreditation of programs and the certification of individuals, two separate processes that are frequently referred to as if they are one and the same. On the one hand, accreditation implies the setting of minimal standards which training programs must meet. In order to become accredited, a counselor education program must fulfill certain requirements or standards with regard to institutional settings, program mission and objectives, program content, practicum experiences, student selection and advising, faculty qualifications and workload, program governance, instructional support, and self-evaluation. On the other hand, certification implies recognition that individuals have met minimal professional standards to practice independently as a counselor. In order to be certified, counselors must meet certain levels of education and training in counseling, they must follow the code of ethics, and they are held accountable to show competent and ethical performance in practice.

In the United States, there are two types of accreditation – institutional and specialized. Institutional looks at the entire institution. Specialized accreditors, such as CACREP, look at professional preparation programs within institutions.

When programs are reviewed by CACREP, there are a few standards that address issues at the institutional level (such as financial aid), but most of the application and review focus on the program that offers the graduate degree in counseling. It is the degree-specific program that holds accreditation, not the department or college in which it is housed. Eligibility for CACREP includes having institutional accreditation, so the institutional issues such as financial viability and resources are addressed.

Benefits of Accreditation

Why should my program seek accreditation? Click here to learn more.

Value of Accreditation

Accreditation Basics

Accreditation in the United States is a unique peer review system of quality assurance.

For CACREP, this means that programs voluntarily submit a self-study that is reviewed against the CACREP Standards by counselors and counselor educators to ensure that students receive a quality educational experience.


The vision of CACREP is to provide leadership and to promote excellence in professional preparation through the accreditation of counseling and related educational programs.  As an accrediting body, CACREP is committed to the development of standards and procedures that reflect the needs of a dynamic, diverse, and complex society.  CACREP is dedicated to

  1. encouraging and promoting the continuing development and improvement of preparation programs; and
  2. preparing counseling and related professionals to provide services consistent with the ideal of optimal human development.

CACREP maintains collaborative relationships with other groups that focus on accreditation, licensing, certification, and the professional development of counselors and related practitioners.


The mission of CACREP is to promote the professional competence of counseling and related practitioners through

  • the development of preparation standards;
  • the encouragement of excellence in program development; and
  • the accreditation of professional preparation programs.

Core Values

In March 2002, the CACREP Board of Directors developed this Statement of Core Values to provide additional clarification and support for the existing Mission and Vision statements.

The CACREP Board of Directors believes in

  • advancing the counseling profession through quality and excellence in counselor education;
  • ensuring a fair, consistent, and ethical decision-making process;
  • serving as a responsible leader in protecting the public;
  • promoting practices that reflect openness to growth, change and collaboration; and,
  • creating and strengthening standards that reflect the needs of society, respect the diversity of instructional approaches and strategies, and encourage program improvement and best practices
CHEA Recognition

CACREP has been recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation.  CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.CHEA recognition provides assurance to the public and higher education institutions that CACREP is a legitimate accreditor with authority granted by a regulating body who has reviewed the standards, processes, and policies of CACREP.CHEA recognition also assures the public that the programs  that achieve CACREP accreditation are legitimate degree programs.  Both CHEA and CACREP assist the public in avoiding spending money on illegitimate degrees promoted by degree mills and accreditation mills.

CACREP's Scope of Accreditation

CACREP accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties that are offered by colleges and universities in the United States and throughout the world.

Visit CHEA

The CACREP Board of Directors

The CACREP Board is composed of between 13 and 15 members.  It must include at least eight (8) counselor educators, at least two (2) counseling practitioners, and at least two (2) public members, who are not current or former members of the counseling profession.

All Directors serve for one (1) five year term and are not eligible for reappointment.  They must also agree to and abide by the Board Member Conflict of Interest Policy.

Here’s why CACREP matters:

  • CACREP matters because we have continuously advocated for our Professional Counselor identity as a necessary element of counselor education and training
  • CACREP values inclusion and protecting the public through academic standards for our profession by establishing minimum standards to guide the Counseling profession, supporting anyone, with any identity, possessing the relational skills and dispositions who are motivated to help others by becoming a Professional Counselor

Earl Grey
Faculty Member, Southern New Hampshire University

Cheri Meder

Vice Chair

Board term ends 6/30/2024
Faculty Member, Adams State University

Sonja Sutherland


Board term ends 6/30/2027
Faculty Member, Walden University

Aaron Mertes

Board term ends 6/30/2028
Faculty Member, Montana State University Billings

Bita Rivas

Board term ends 6/30/2025
Faculty Member, California State University Sacramento

Carlos Del Rio

Board term ends 6/30/2028
Faculty Member, Bellevue University

Christopher Schmidt

Board term ends 6/30/2025
Faculty Member, Villanova University

Jay Tift

Board term ends 6/30/2027

John Steward

Board term ends 6/30/2028

Keith Klostermann

Board term ends 6/30/2026
Faculty Member, State University of New York at Fredonia

Kent B. Provost

Board term ends 6/30/2026
Faculty Member, Governors State University

Kyla Marie Kurian

Board term ends 6/30/2027
Faculty Member, North Carolina Central University

Marianne Schimelfenig

Board term ends 6/30/2026
Public Member



CACREP has developed a 1-page flyer for anyone to use in advocacy efforts, such as with administrators, state legislators, and others.

Read More
A Guide to Graduate Programs in Counseling

Written for undergraduate students and other prospective counselors, A Guide to Graduate Programs in Counseling is the first of its kind to create a comprehensive, reliable means of learning about the counseling profession, entry level preparation (i.e., master’s degrees in counseling specializations), and what to consider when searching for, applying to, and ultimately selecting a graduate program in counseling that is the “perfect fit.”

Read More
CACREP Connection

CACREP publishes an e-newsletter called CACREP Connection, which is designed to keep programs informed of the latest news regarding CACREP Accreditation, Initiatives, Policies and Standards.

Read More
CACREP Annual Reports

CACREP publishes an annual report summarizing CACREP initiatives and activities over the year as well as reporting data on accredited programs and students.

Read More
Articles About CACREP

This includes articles published about CACREP in outside publications.

Read More

Research Corner

Welcome to CACREP’s Research Corner! CACREP continuously strives to support research that examines the various impacts of accreditation and related issues through initiating student research, faculty research, and CACREP-commissioned research on current affairs within the counseling profession. Here you will find information about CACREP’s Research Agenda, professional literature that supports CACREP’s efforts, and research opportunities for students and faculty.

Professional literature says….

  • 81.7% of LPCs sanctioned for ethics violations graduated from non-CACREP-accredited programs (Even & Robinson, 2013)
  • Test takers from CACREP programs scored significantly higher on the NCE exam than test takers from non-CACREP programs (Adams, 2006)
  • Graduate students from CACREP programs passed the NCE at higher rates (86%) than did students from non-CACREP programs (77%) (Milsom & Akos, 2007)
  • 88% of students from CACREP programs successfully obtained the NCSC credential, compared to only 52% of students from non-CACREP programs (Milson & Akos, 2007)

Recent CACREP References

If you have any questions or are interested in getting involved in CACREP’s Research Initiatives please contact us at [email protected].

Research Initiatives for Graduate Students

The CACREP Research Initiative for Graduate Students (CRIGS) program offers current CACREP graduate students the opportunity to become a CRIGS Research Fellow for a one year term. Research Fellows will collaborate with one another, as well as with CACREP Staff, to engage in research endeavors that mirror and support CACREP’s vision, mission, and values. Research Fellows involved in the CRIGS program will have the unique opportunity to be involved in scholarly endeavors that align with the goals and objectives of the CACREP Research Agenda.

Read More
Student and Faculty RFPs

CACREP is soliciting research proposals from counselor educators and researchers that examine the impact and/or utility of CACREP accreditation. Research proposals should be developed in alignment with the CACREP Research Agenda (dated 2018) and attempt to address research related to one or more areas of interest explicitly identified on the current agenda.

Read More
CACREP Research Agenda

CACREP develops an annual Research Agenda to identify significant information and advocacy needs as well as emerging issues relevant to its mission. CACREP believes these issues have short- and long-term impact on the quality of its accreditation process. The Research Agenda is not an exhaustive listing of research topics, but rather highlights priority topics that are directly related to its mission and strategic initiatives.

Read More


Martin Ritchie Award for Excellence in Advocacy

CACREP’s Martin Ritchie Award for Excellence in Advocacy recognizes individuals who engage in superlative advocacy efforts on behalf of CACREP and its vision, mission, and values, which ultimately serve to advance the counseling profession through quality and excellence in counselor education.

Read More
The Carol Bobby Pioneer Award for Visionary Leadership

As a reflection of her career defined by visionary leadership and commitment to students, the purpose of CACREP’s Carol Bobby Pioneer Award for Visionary Leadership is to celebrate a doctoral student in a CACREP-accredited counselor education and supervision program who embodies visionary leadership aligned with CACREP’s core values.

Read More

Previous Decision Announcements

Announcements of previous accreditation decisions are listed below: