In this post I will explain what accreditation is, and why you should understand its importance prior to choosing a school for your masters.
What is accreditation? Accreditation is the certification of quality and competence by an external body. For mental health counseling programs, that external body is the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP sets minimum standards that counseling programs must meet if they are to be “CACREP accredited.” For example, CACREP sets the number of client contact hours for students.
Although attending an accredited program streamlines the licensure process, accreditation is not a legal construct. Accreditation is based on minimal standards that are established by experts in the industry, but, unlike licensure, those standards are not written into law. Therefore, attending an accredited program does not mean automatic licensure. You will still have to go through the same steps students from non-accredited programs go through in order to obtain licensure.
Nonetheless, if you are considering a career in counseling, attending an accredited masters program can be advantageous in many ways:
For more information, please visit the CACREP website.
(Source: Does program accreditation matter? (Counseling Today, September 2012 Part I, p. 16)