Doctoral and master’s degree programs that meet certain quality standards may be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). With a CACREP accreditation, the program is formally recognized as meeting the official counseling standards of bodies such as the Veteran’s Administration and the Institute of Medicine.
Though all academic programs are expected to show at least some initiative in improving, it isn’t mandatory that any program perform to its best potential; programs that show a successful, concentrated effort to improve beyond the bare minimum are the ones most likely to become CACREP candidates. To put it simply, CACREP accreditation serves to recognize a program that continually aims to outdo itself.
CACREP and Productivity
CACREP accreditation has been shown to have a tangible effect on the faculty’s productivity. Faculty members of CACREP-accredited programs have repeatedly been shown to perform to a slightly higher standard following their program’s accreditation.
The subtle rise in productivity that has typically followed CACREP accreditation may be related to strengthened morale and a higher sense of accountability. Counselors within CACREP-accredited programs are essentially promoted to a higher tier of professional recognition, and for some individuals, this new level of recognition may trigger a higher drive for self-evaluation and effort.
Practical benefits aside, the reputation of any program that is accredited by CACREP receives a notable boost. For the prestige that it offers, CACREP is a common enrollment target for many higher-performing students.
Reasons for Attending a CACREP-accredited Program
Students may seek out CACREP-accredited programs for several different reasons, though most of them can be explained as an observation of the program’s quality. With CACREP accreditation, prospective students perceive a higher degree of value in the program to be gained.
Statistical reports have indicated that CACREP program graduates generally go on to earn higher scores on their National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) exam.
Not only does CACREP accreditation increase the likelihood of graduates achieving superior NCE scores, but it also has an effect on licensure application as well. Regardless of the scores that graduates from any program may earn on their NCE, the licensure application can a complex process for those without direct guidance. CACREP is noted for making the overall licensure application process more intuitive and simpler for its graduates.
As CACREP curriculum material incorporates most of what is standard fare for becoming a licensed counselor in most parts of the nation, counselors from accredited programs have a fairly high range of flexibility in the different states that they’re permitted to practice in. Currently, over 600 American programs have officially recognized CACREP.
The heightened performance and productivity associated with CACREP programs could be related to the manner in which they are reviewed. Once recognized by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, an academic program is reviewed by the same standards used at a professional level. In order for these programs to continue operating in the long term, a genuine commitment to excellence at the program’s core is necessary.