Mini Manual 1: Is CACREP right for my program?

While CACREP accreditation is voluntary process, the landscape for the counseling profession has changed significantly over the past few years. Changes in federal regulations, legislation, and state licensure requirements have made CACREP accreditation high stakes. This section of the manual will outline eligibility for CACREP accreditation and items to consider prior to writing and submitting a Self-Study Document.

1. Consider the Eligibility Requirements. It is the responsibility of the faculty seeking accreditation to demonstrate it meets the CACREP Standards. Not all counseling programs are ready to seek CACREP accreditation. Faculty should carefully analyze whether minimum standards are met prior to applying for accreditation. The following items should be considered when determining eligibility:

Scope of Accreditation

To become CACREP accredited the program has to determine if it falls within 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.

Programs that fall outside CACREP’s Scope of Accreditation (e.g., Counseling Psychology) are not eligible for accreditation. The CACREP Board is willing to work collaboratively with program faculty making an identity transition should these programs demonstrate a strong commitment to a counseling identity. Please refer to CACREP’s Guiding Principles for Core Faculty Standards. It is important to note that CACREP does not accredit undergraduate or non-degree options such as licensure- or certification-only programs.

Counseling Program Identity

When reviewing eligibility, it is important to consider the overall identity of the counseling program. The standards and policies are designed to support, promote, and strengthen the professional identity of a counseling program. Key items to consider are a) program titles, b) course titles and prefixes, c) curricular offerings d) ethics and standards of practice e) professional identity of faculty and site supervisors. An initial step is to conduct a self-assessment against the standards and policies related to professional identity to determine if the program is ready to apply.

If a program is transitioning to a counseling identity there may be a point where the application is premature and will not successfully meet the eligibility requirements or the Standards. Waiting for more factors to move into place before applying may be a wiser course of action.

2. Determine program faculty and administrative interest and support for seeking accreditation.
When considering an application for CACREP accreditation the program faculty must determine whether there is sufficient interest in undergoing the self-study process and moving forward in seeking accreditation. The program faculty may want to begin this process by gauging the initial administrative support for seeking accreditation. Administrators may need to help understand how accreditation can benefit the program and the real costs of seeking accreditation in terms of finances, program resources, and program faculty time.

In addition to administrative support, all program faculty should review the accreditation standards, policies, procedures, and review the eligibility requirements to determine if seeking accreditation is the right step for the program at the present time. If only a small number of faculty members have interest in meeting the CACREP Standards and will make the necessary effort, a program is unlikely to successfully achieve accreditation. However, a small group may begin the effort if those faculty members are able to develop and nurture interest among the others in the program.

3. Analyze the benefits of seeking accreditation.
Program faculty should realistically assess the potential benefits and liabilities involved in seeking accreditation. Benefits may include

  • program evaluation and improvement
  • increased visibility and recognition for the program on and off campus
  • increased interest in the program by prospective students
  • professional certification and licensure benefits for program graduates
  • opportunities for graduates with the Veteran Administration (VA), TRICARE, and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

Seeking accreditation also involves other resources in addition to the direct expenses. Program faculty and others involved in the program will need to expend considerable time, energy, and effort to conduct necessary analyses, make programmatic changes, communicate with constituent groups, and engage in all aspects of the accreditation process.

Policies related to the Self-Study Process:

FAQs Related to the Self-Study Process: