By: Kelsey Vickers
Two graduate programs have recently become accredited in the College of Education on campus.
Graduate students can now pursue a master’s degree in either Clinical Mental Health Counseling or School Counseling.
Dr. Kathryn Hildebrand, Dean of the College of Education, said that the accreditation of these two programs occurred because of the faculty “incorporating rigorous standards in our curriculum and being able to assess students and document that they’ve met the standards.”
Because Hildebrand was hired in December of last year, she was not present for the actual process of accreditation for these programs.
However, she said that the most important aspect of accreditation is the self study aspect.
“The self study must be done … this is where we identify admissions and outcomes and also document that the students are reaching the standards,” she said. “Self study is really what makes or breaks it.”
Hildebrand said she believes that this means they will be able to attract more quality students who want to graduate from an accredited program.
Dr. Andrew Creamer, chair of the Department of Psychology, Counseling and Foundations of Education, was able to elaborate on the actual process of accreditation.
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Education Programs, or CACREP for short, is the organization that gives accreditation.
“CACREP is our national accrediting body for all our counseling programs … to get CACREP accreditation is pretty important,” said Creamer.
He went on to say that if you want to get licensed, most states prefer that you be CACREP accredited.
Creamer said that they have a long list of standards when deliberating accreditation for a program.
“We had to do a self study, then review and call back,” he said. “Then they sent a site team out for three days.”
The site team’s job is to ensure that the students will receive a quality education in the area that needs to be accredited.
Creamer said that when the site team left, they said that had never been a place where the faculty and community were so well integrated.
He went on to say that our community mental health program, which was previously a 48-hour program, went to 60 hours.
The mental health program was given a full eight years accreditation, which is the maximum amount.
“The school counseling program got two years, because we didn’t have faculty yet,” Creamer said.
For these graduate programs, Creamer said that this means that they remain CACREP accredited but now they are under a new set of standards.
“This means our graduates can go anywhere in the United States and be licensed,” he said.
Creamer also said that he hopes that the accreditation of these two programs will attract more students to the school.