UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State clinical psychology program recently received accreditation from the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) after undergoing an extensive review.
PCSAS is an independent organization that seeks to advance public health by “promoting the highest standards of education and training in psychological clinical science.” The Penn State program, which also has received accreditation from the American Psychological Association, is the 31st program to receive PCSAS accreditation.
In order to apply for PCSAS accreditation, a program must grant doctoral degrees; must be located at a non-profit, research-intensive university; and must demonstrate that its chief mission is to prepare graduates for careers as clinical scientists.
“Our doctoral program aims for the seamless integration of clinical research and practice in order to train clinical scientists who can disseminate existing knowledge, deliver scientifically-based clinical services, and expand the body of scientific knowledge in clinical psychology,” said Aaron Pincus, professor and director of clinical training in the Penn State Department of Psychology. “PCSAS, or ‘clinical science’ accreditation, is a significant distinction for our program as not only one of the top programs in the country, but also one that has a core scientific focus to everything we do.”
As part of the accreditation process, the clinical psychology program was required to submit a written evaluation of itself with respect to PCSAS’ accreditation criteria, which evaluate conceptual foundations, design and resources, scientific quality, desire for improvement, and success of the program’s graduates.
PCSAS representatives also visited Penn State this past November to conduct on-site evaluations of the program. The evaluators — faculty members from existing PCSAS accredited institutions — met with students, faculty and staff from the clinical psychology program; additional psychology faculty affiliated with the program; and Susan Welch, professor and dean of the College of Liberal Arts. PCSAS’ Review Committee then met in December to assess the self-evaluation and on-site review findings and determine the program’s accreditation status.
In its accreditation approval letter to the program, the review committee noted that it found Penn State’s clinical psychology doctoral program “to be a very strong program that meets and exceeds PCSAS’s high standards for accreditation.” Reviews of the program highlighted the productivity of both faculty and students in presenting and publishing scholarly work, as well as the integration of science and practice. The committee was also impressed with the Psychological Clinic, which serves approximately 1,000 state residents a year.
“Accreditation formally recognizes our program for its cutting-edge, scientific orientation, to the training of our students and their consistently successful job placements in top clinical science positions once they graduate,” Pincus added.
Penn State’s PCSAS accreditation is effective until January 2027, contingent upon the submission of annual reports.