Sam Houston State University’s psychology department is in the process of receiving accreditation by the American Psychological Association.
The APA puts a stamp of approval on the teaching and training schools offer, said Rowland Miller, professor of psychology and member of the doctoral faculty. It is the only professional organization that inspects graduate training programs.
“Getting that approval is an extremely important mark of prestige,” Miller said.
He said schools inspected and approved by the APA have a much higher prestige and a form of quality control.
Accreditation is the process of being inspected and approved.
“Other consumers, employers and professionals know that if you’ve graduated from a program accredited by the APA, you have training that meets national standards,” Miller said. “You have to prove yourself before you’re eligible for accreditation.”
The practice of psychology is a program similar to the practice of medicine or law in that it involves years of training.
“Our new doctoral program has just reached the point to be eligible for accreditation,” Miller said.
The department has to be in business for several years and have trained people before colleagues can observe what kind of professionals the school is creating.
“This year we are nominating ourselves and undergoing a very thorough self examination,” Miller said.
After the self-study is finished, the results are sent to headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“They inspect you from afar, but the big event is a visit to campus,” Miller said.
Colleagues from around the country will come and perform a face-to-face inspection for two days.
“A three-person team will meet with the vice president, the dean and maybe the president,” Miller said.
The visitors will also talk with students and faculty behind closed doors.
“It’s a very hard couple of days for the visitors to find out everything they can about the quality of what the students encounter,” Miller said.
After the inspection, the colleagues report back to Washington, D.C., and a decision is reached. This process takes a few months.
“The accreditation is given as soon as the decision is reached,” Miller said.
The psychology department will submit its self-study later this year and plans for a site visit some time in the fall, Miller said.
“It’s a very exciting time for our department,” Miller said. “Sam Houston’s reputation is expanding by leaps and bounds in this field.”
Accreditation benefits the institution, the faculty and the students.
“I feel very privileged to be involved with such a prestigious program,” said junior psychology major Josh Metteauer. “The accreditation will hopefully help my future employment opportunities.
“The classes that have been most enjoyable are the ones taught by professors who truly know their field and have been involved in it for many years,” Metteauer said.
“Accreditation puts your program on the map and it’s a great advertisement that what you’re doing is high quality stuff,” Miller said.
Psychology students train in the clinic on campus that provides many services to the community as well as the prison system.
“Great things are happening here,” Miller said.
Miller was a site visitor for other schools such as the University of British Columbia, the University of Utah and the University of Tennessee.
“It’s very hard work, but you learn a lot,” Miller said. “I think we’re in good shape. If I were site visiting from somewhere else, I would be very impressed, and my personal experience leads me to think our visitors will be impressed, too.”