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LV psych gets APA approval

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by Emily Low
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne’s psychology department’s doctoral degree program in clinical community psychology recently earned accreditation by the American Psychological Association.

This is a major milestone for the psychology department, which will gain national recognition for the program, as well as for the University of La Verne as a whole, said University President Stephen Morgan.

The program received this recognition for its excellence, uniqueness and superiority.

The APA is the nation’s primary accrediting organization for psychology doctoral programs, said Valerie Jordan, University professor and chair of the doctor of psychology program.

With this credential, the department’s program joins an exclusive academic community of only 200 doctoral programs nationwide holding APA accreditation.

The guidelines for APA accreditation are rigorous: A program is ineligible unless all class levels of the program’s five-year duration have been implemented.

Next, a self-study must be written according to specific criteria. Once this is submitted to the APA, it is reviewed to make sure the guidelines have been followed.

If the self-study is approved, the next step is a site visit by a team of psychologists chosen by the University, who meet for a thorough two-day visit with everyone involved in the program.

The site team writes an evaluation of the program, which is either approved for accreditation or not accepted.

“We began to pursue this accreditation at the earliest possible time, which was after the first five years of the program,” Jordan said. “It was a very in-depth and intensive process.”

The department submitted the self-study in September of 2002 and received its initial approval in November. The site visit was in April 2003.

In June, the committee met and the program was approved for accreditation.

“This means that students who graduate from this program will have more opportunities available to them and will be more competitive for jobs,” Jordan said.

“(It also) creates more internship and career opportunities for students, more grant opportunities for better training and more research, and an overall quality student experience,” said Aghop Der-Karabetian, professor of psychology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

After accreditation, an approved program’s site will be evaluated after one to seven years.

Newly approved schools generally are revisited within one to three years. La Verne’s program will be reviewed again in five years.

“This was like hitting a grand slam,” Jordan said of accreditation. “Five years means we did a fabulous job, and we are in great shape.”

Added Der-Karabetian: “The accreditation has put us on the national map for psychologists’ in training. We have increased our visibility as a locally and nationally recognized program. This allows us to recruit faculty and students from all over the nation.”

“It brings national recognition to the outstanding doctorate of psychology program and to the entire University,” Morgan said.

“I am ecstatic because I have worked hard for the program as well as on the self-study and site visits,” Jordan said. “Many people were involved and all of this took a team effort to support the program. We have completed our first phase. Our second step is now to enhance our recognition on state and national levels.”

“Our next issue is figuring out our limit of growth, which is a good thing,” Der-Karabetian added.

The Psy. D. program was started in 1997. It is a five-year doctoral program, which has just recently honored its first graduates.

The ULV community celebrated this milestone with a school-wide accreditation party Thursday, in the Old Gym.

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