Chair’s Message: CACREP is a sound investment
We are all facing tough financial times. Many public universities are seeing decreases in state funding. Some universities are seeing drops in enrollment due, in part, to the sluggish economy. As a result, many colleges are facing budget cuts. Some administrators may question the cost of accreditation. How does the cost of an accrediting body like CACREP compare to other accrediting bodies? Does maintaining CACREP accreditation yield a good return on investment? These are fair questions that I would like to address.
How does the cost of CACREP accreditation compare to other accrediting bodies?
CACREP runs on a tight budget. Each year the CACREP Board scrutinizes the budget, always looking for ways to reduce costs. Recent examples include initiating electronic transmission of review materials to reduce the cost of copying and shipping, and increasing use of conference calls and teleconferencing to reduce travel expenses. The staff periodically checks fees and dues of other accrediting bodies to ensure that our costs are reasonable. The application and annual maintenance fees are less expensive than many other health-related accrediting bodies. For example, Master’s degree programs in Social Work pay over $10,000 in combined candidacy and initial accreditation fees, as well as annual fees that range from $3270 to $6575. Doctoral Psychology programs pay a $2500 application fee and then $2500 annual fee per doctoral program. Master’s degree programs in speech, language and hearing pay $7000 in combined candidacy and initial accreditation fees and up to $2780 in annual fees. By comparison, CACREP’s application fees and annual fees would be considered in the low to normal range.
Does CACREP accreditation yield a good return on investment?
I believe this question can be answered with a resounding YES. First, CACREP has a 30 year reputation as representing the highest standards for counselor preparation. Many students come to your institution because of CACREP accreditation. Even a decade ago, dissertation research conducted by Leah Brew found that when counseling programs achieve CACREP accreditation, it was reported that both the number of applications and quality of applicants to their programs increased. In addition, this research reported that after gaining CACREP accreditation, the percentage of student passing the NCE increased, as well as faculty productivity related to professional activities (publishing and presenting). CACREP accreditation has been shown to have a positive impact on programs.
Ever notice how many advertisements for counselor educators state a preference for graduates of CACREP-accredited programs? This will become even more important in the coming years. If you have a CACREP-accredited doctoral program it will be easier for your graduates to find faculty positions. In addition, if you are looking to hire a new faculty member you will attract more, and possibly better, candidates if your program(s) are CACREP accredited.
The most important element in your investment in accreditation is the benefits for students. Since CACREP is recognized by most counselor licensing boards, your graduates will likely have an easier time qualifying to sit the licensure examination and becoming licensed counselors. As the counseling profession continue to mature and gain recognition, it is quite possible that some states will require graduation from a CACREP-accredited program to be eligible for licensure. This is not uncommon in many other professions, such as medicine, social work, physical therapy, and architecture.
Students enroll in your programs not only to become licensed but to get jobs. Employers prefer graduates of CACREP-accredited programs. The Veterans Administration recently announced that they would only recognize licensed counselors who graduated from a CACREP-accredited program as approved providers. The Secretary of the Army recently issued a directive that substance abuse counselors must be graduates of CACREP accredited programs, which may affect hiring throughout the military health system. These decisions were based, in part, on the recommendations of The Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. After extensive research and hearings the IOM recognized CACREP as the accrediting body for counselor education. Based on their recommendations it is likely that more federal and state agencies will require CACREP-accreditation. This is tremendous benefit to the graduates of your program.
So I hope you agree, even with tight budgets, CACREP is a sound return on your investment.