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The following Summary identifies the 28 clinical science Ph.D. programs currently accredited by PCSAS, listed in chronological order of the dates of their reviews and decisions.  All of these programs are of exceptionally high quality, as judged by PCSAS's standards.  PCSAS requires all accredited programs to publish their admission and outcomes data on their websites.  Links to these data are provided here. (To access these links, simply click on the URL or copy and paste it into your browser.):

Program/University Review Date Decision
University of Illinois-U/C 11-12-2009 Accredit
University of Arizona 05-26-2010 Accredit
Washington University in St. Louis 05-26-2010 Accredit
McGill University 12-04-2010 Accredit
Stony Brook University 12-04-2010 Accredit
University of Kentucky 12-04-2010 Accredit
University of Southern California 12-04-2010 Accredit
Northwestern University (Psychology) 05-25-2011 Accredit
University of Missouri 05-25-2011 Accredit
University of South Florida 05-25-2011 Accredit
Arizona State University 05-25-2011 Accredit
University of Delaware 05-25-2011 Accredit
University of Iowa 05-25-2011 Accredit
Harvard University 05-23-2012 Accredit
University of Pennsylvania 12-15-2012 Accredit
University of California, Los Angeles 12-15-2012 Accredit
University of California, Berkeley 05-21-2013 Accredit
University of Minnesota 05-21-2013 Accredit
University of Oregon 05-21-2013 Accredit
University of Pittsburgh 05-21-2013 Accredit
University of Virginia (Psychology) 05-21-2013 Accredit
University of Wisconsin-Madison 05-20-2014 Accredit
Duke University 05-20-2014 Accredit
Emory University 05-20-2014 Accredit
University of Georgia 12-09-2014 Accredit
Indiana University 05-19-2015 Accredit
The Ohio State University 05-19-2015 Accredit
Virginia Tech University 05-19-2015 Accredit

ELIGIBLE PROGRAMS:  In addition, the following clinical science programs have submitted Letters of Intent to apply for PCSAS accreditation, and have been deemed eligible:  Rutgers University (Ph.D.); Temple University; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Texas--Austin; University of Toronto.




Overview of Accreditation Decisions:  The PCSAS Review Committee (RC) is solely responsible for reviewing, evaluating, and reaching a final decision on all applications for PCSAS accreditation.  The RC normally meets twice each year, in May and December.  Only the nine RC members may vote to decide the final outcome for any application, and even then, members may vote only if they have no conflict of interest and if they have been present for the full discussion of that case during the meeting.   RC votes are by secret ballot.  Committee members have only two options when making a final decision on a given application:  (a) to accredit, or (b) to deny accreditation.  (There is no other category of accreditation, such as 'provisional,' 'conditional,' etc.)  If the committee members are unable to reach a clear final decision in a given case at an RC meeting, based on the available information, they may defer a decision until the next meeting.  In that case, the affected program simply will be designated as 'under review,' with neither an 'accredit' nor 'deny accreditation' label, pending the delayed final decision. 

All PCSAS accreditation decisions are based on the same evaluation process, standards, and criteria.  Therefore, there are no distinctions among PCSAS accredited programs, in terms of the underlying reasons for the RC's decision to accredit them; there is only one category of PCSAS accredited programs.

A decision to accredit signifies that, based on the RC's evaluation of the applicant program's application materials and the site visit report, the majority of the committee judged the applicant program to have met or exceeded all of the PCSAS standards and criteria for accreditation. A decision to accredit requires a positive vote by the majority of the Review Committee members (i.e., five votes in favor). All positive decisions are for full accreditation; there are no other status categories.  Accreditation in all cases is for a period of up to ten years, provided that the program submits satisfactory annual reports, pays the annual dues, responds satisfactorily to all inquiries from PCSAS, and continues to uphold PCSAS's high accreditation standards.

A decision to deny accreditation signifies that the majority of the Review Committee, after evaluating the applicant's materials, judged the applicant program to have been deficient in one or more of the PCSAS standards and criteria for accreditation.  If an applicant is denied accreditation, the basis for the negative decision will be transmitted in writing to the applicant.  The basis for the decision also will be summarized in a publicly accessible report of committee actions on the PCSAS website.  An applicant who is denied accreditation must wait one year before reapplying.  If the applicant reapplies, it is considered as a new application, and judged without prejudice.  Since a goal of PCSAS accreditation is to raise the overall quality of doctoral training in psychological clinical science, PCSAS will work positively with any applicant program to help it improve its chances of satisfying the high standards for PCSAS accreditation.

To date, PCSAS has accredited 28 Ph.D. programs in Psychological Clinical Science.  It has not denied accreditation to any applicant program, nor has it withdrawn its accreditation of any program.  The programs that have applied thus far have been self-selecting, all of high quality.  For example, PCSAS has been told by some programs that they are eager to apply, but are waiting until they can be confident that they will meet the criteria.  PCSAS's accreditation criteria are clear and publicly available, so when programs apply they should know what is expected of them.

Pre-submission process:  To be eligible to apply for PCSAS accreditation, potential applicants first must submit a 3-page 'Letter of Intent' explaining how they meet all of the following PCSAS Eligibility Standards. The letter is reviewed by PCSAS to decide whether the program is eligible.  To date, all programs that have submitted Letters of Intent have been judged to be eligible.  In part, this is due to the fact that these eligibility criteria are clear and publicly available (see Initiation Packet in the appendices of the Purpose, Organization, Policies & Procedures Manual, first item on the Relevant Publications and Links page of the pcsas.org website):

  • Only Ph.D. programs in psychological clinical science, housed in departments of psychology (or their equivalent) in non-profit, research-intensive universities in the U.S. or Canada are eligible. 
  • The program's primary goal must be to produce graduates who are competent and successful at (a) conducting research relevant to the assessment, prevention, treatment, and understanding of health and mental health disorders; and (b) using science methods and evidence to design, develop, select, evaluate, implement, deliver, supervise, and disseminate empirically based assessments, interventions, and prevention strategies.
  • In their notice of intent and in their public documents, potential applicants must demonstrate an established commitment to providing an education within the limited boundaries that define PCSAS accreditation'I.e., in scope, epistemology, mission, goal, and domain.
  • Potential applicants must agree to conduct a detailed self-study prior to preparing an application and to provide an accurate summary of the self-study's results in their application materials. Each program must agree to a full disclosure of all information the Review Committee (RC) requires in order to carry out its responsibility of evaluating programs and reaching accreditation decisions.
  • Applicants must agree to arrange, host, and complete a site visitof their program after submitting the application and prior to the scheduled RC review, and must agree to accept the Review Committee' decision.


General Accreditation Standards:  PCSAS reviews applications only from programs that explicitly claim to fit within the defined scope of PCSAS accreditation and to satisfy PCSAS's standards.  The Review Committee (RC) rigorously and objectively examines and evaluates the evidence from each program's application materials and from the program's site visitors' report to assess how well the program lives up to all of PCSAS's high standards. The RC makes qualitative evaluations of each program in five general areas; the program must meet all five (see the Review Criteria page of the pcsas.org website for a more detailed explanation and illustration of these five criterion areas):

(a) Conceptual foundations: The RC examines evidence that the applicant adheres to the epistemology, mission, goals, and domain that define PCSAS accreditation. While encouraging innovation, the RC evaluates the quality, coherence, integrity, and success of each individual program's particular interpretation and embodiment of these core concepts.

(b) Design and resources: The RC examines the quality, logic, soundness, and coherence of each program's overall operation: i.e., its stability; educational plan and pedagogical approach; content and curriculum; administration; and availability and use of resources. The RC evaluates how effectively the program's design and resources are channeled toward realizing the program's goals.

(c) Quality of the science: The RC evaluates the overall quality of the scientific content, methods, and products of the program's doctoral training and education'i.e., how well the program embodies the very best, cutting-edge science of the discipline.

(d) Quality improvement: The RC examines the program's investment in continuous quality improvement'i.e., its on-going critical self-examination, openness to feedback, flexibility and innovation, and monitoring of program results.

(e) Outcomes: The RC's evaluations place the greatest weight on each program's record of success'i.e., the extent to which the activities and accomplishments of its faculty, students, and graduates exemplify the kinds of outcomes one expects of programs that successfully educate high-quality, productive psychological clinical scientists?

All RC Decisions:  For every applicant, the RC examines, integrates, and evaluates all the evidence in each these five areas, makes a qualitative judgment, and decides whether the program deserves to be awarded the distinctive recognition of PCSAS accreditation.  The basis for the RC's accreditation decision is the same for all applicants:  To be accredited, the applicant must satisfy PCSAS's standards in all five areas.  If an applicant is found to be deficient in any area, it will be denied accreditation.

© 2011, Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, All Rights Reserved.
Last update: 11/6/2015