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The Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) is an independent, non-profit organization whose aim is to provide rigorous, objective, and empirically based accreditation of Ph.D. programs that adhere to a clinical science training model -- one that increases the quality and quantity of clinical scientists contributing to all aspects of public health and extends the science base for mental health care.

The impetus for this new approach to accreditation dates back to a 1992 Summit Meeting on the Future of Accreditation sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP). PCSAS began to develop in 1995 and was formally established as an independent entity by the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science in 2007. The Academy's 75 member programs are all doctoral training programs or internship programs in psychology who share a commitment to the primacy of science in the education and training of psychological clinical scientists. 

To date, PCSAS has accredited 35 programs in the United States and Canada, with many others in various stages of the application process (see Accredited Programs). By many measures, these programs are among the most highly regarded in the field. For example, all 34 programs in the U.S are listed among the top 50 in U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News ranks only U.S. programs). Similarly, all programs are ranked highly by the National Academy of Sciences, by their graduates' scores on state licensing exams and the by publication records of their faculties.  

Why now for PCSAS? Science is preeminent in PCSAS programs. This primary commitment to science, as well as growing concerns that the nation's pressing mental health needs are not being met, gave rise to the development of PCSAS as an accreditation system specifically designed to promote science-centered doctoral training. PCSAS is designed to foster clinical scientists who will be able to improve public health by disseminating existing knowledge, delivering scientifically-based clinical services and expanding the body of scientific knowledge in clinical psychology. The ultimate goal is to provide the public with mental health services that are safe, that work and that are cost effective.   

PCSAS is Gaining Recognition.  PCSAS became an independent accrediting body in 2007 and began accrediting programs in late 2009. In 2012, PCSAS was formally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), "a national advocate and institutional voice for promoting academic quality through accreditation." Between then and now PCSAS has been:

  • Recognized by the U.S, Department Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest trainer and employer of psychologists in the world, as the sole eligibility requirement for VA internships and staff positions. That is, PCSAS students need no other accreditation credential. According to the VA, PCSAS's "significant attention to the implementation of interventions ...is consistent with the VA's clinical directions and strengthens [the] VA's care for Veterans."
  • Recognized at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with then Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stating, "At NIMH, we thought of PCSAS at the cutting edge of where training should be in clinical psychological science, and as the model for how rigorous accreditation might have an influence even beyond psychology."
  • Endorsed by any number of psychological and mental health organizations including the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science (APCS), the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP), and the Society for Research in Psychopathology (SRP). 
  • Recognized in the laws and regulations in several states, with more pending, as evidence increasingly demonstrates that PCSAS programs more than meet state eligibility requirements for graduates seeking to be licensed psychologists.
  • Cited for excellence by the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Recognized in pending regulations for employment by the Office of the Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In May 2016, the PCSAS Board of Directors announced that Richard McFall, the founding Executive Director of PCSAS, was retiring, and that Alan Kraut, former Executive Director of the Association for Psychological Science, had been appointed as the new PCSAS Executive Director. Contact information for PCSAS is:

Alan G. Kraut, Executive Director
Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)
1800 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 402
Washington, DC  20036-1218  USA
(301) 455-8046

Want to Know More?  For much more detailed information about PCSAS's Purpose, Organization, Policies, and Procedures, read the POPP Manual, a link to which can be found at at the top of the "Relevant Publications & Links" page of this website.  We hope you find this web site informative and useful.  Always eager to improve, we invite your  comments and feedback. 

© 2011, Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, All Rights Reserved.
Last update: 06/21/2017