Only doctoral and internship training programmes can become accredited by the CPA. Individuals, on the other hand, do not become accredited – instead, they become licensed or registered to practice psychology.
When a programme becomes accredited, this means that they meet a certain level of standards in the training that they provide to students.
When an individual psychologist becomes licensed or registered, this means that they have completed the necessary academic and practical requirements to legally provide psychological services to the public.
Accreditation is important for numerous reasons. 4 key reasons are:
- Accreditation is like a ‘stamp of approval’ from the larger psychology community that says a particular programme meets the standards that are considered important for professional psychology training.
- Graduating from an accredited programme facilitates the licensure/registration process.
- Many internship programmes will only accept applicants from an accredited doctoral programme.
- Many employers prefer individuals who have graduated from an accredited doctoral and internship programme.
Often due to a variety of personal factors, individuals cannot attend an accredited programme. In this situation, it is important at the outset of your studies to be in contact with the provincial/territorial regulatory body of the province where you would eventually hope to live and work. This way, you can confirm whether your planned training will indeed meet the requirements to become licensed/registered.
A list of the provincial and territorial psychology regulatory bodies, along with their registration requirements, can be found at: cpa.ca/accreditation/PTlicensingrequirements
The CPA only accredits doctoral level programmes in professional psychology, so no Master's programmes receive accreditation. An up-to-date list of all the CPA accredited programmes can be found at: cpa.ca/accreditation/CPAaccreditedprograms
When considering a Master’s, it is important to be aware that the requirements for licensing (e.g., Master's vs. Ph.D.) do vary among provinces/territories. A basic list of these differences can be found at: cpa.ca/accreditation/PTlicensingrequirements
The American Psychological Association (APA) also only accredits doctoral level programmes in professional psychology. You can find a list of all the APA accredited programmes at: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/programs/index.aspx.
Note that graduation from an accredited programme is not currently a requirement for licensure in any Canadian jurisdiction but may be in US jurisdictions. In some US states, the requirement for graduation from an accredited programme may mean APA or CPA accreditation. In both Canada and the US, graduation from an accredited programme can facilitate the licensing process even if it isn’t a requirement. Before deciding on which programme to attend, accredited or not, it is a good idea to get in touch with the regulatory body of the province or state in which you intend to practice to find out about their requirements. The contact information for all provincial and state regulatory bodies can be found at: http://www.asppb.net/?page=BdContactNewPG.
There are some online programmes available, primarily at the Master’s level. However, the CPA does not currently accredit any online psychology training programmes. As well, the CPA only accredits Doctoral level programmes, so no Master’s programmes receive accreditation.
An up-to-date list of all of the CPA accredited programmes can be found at: cpa.ca/accreditation/CPAaccreditedprograms
Most importantly, if you are considering an online degree, it is key to check ahead of time with the relevant provincial/territorial psychology regulatory body, as each body may have differing views about the acceptability of online training. You can find a list of the regulatory bodies at: cpa.ca/public/whatisapsychologist/regulatorybodies
Please note that some regulatory bodies specifically state that they do NOT accept applicants with degrees earned online. As well, some doctoral programmes do NOT accept applicants with degrees earned online. Thus, please research your options carefully if considering an online degree.
The next most important factor is whether you will be able to find work. Just as different regulatory bodies and doctoral programmes may have differing views on online training, different employers may as well. In fact, many employers prefer applicants who have attended an accredited programme. If there is an employer you are interested in working for, it can be helpful to start looking now at any job postings and their requirements. You might even want to contact an employer directly to find out if they accept applicants with degrees earned online.
Note that the CPA only accredits Canadian professional psychology training programmes, so no programmes in other countries receive accreditation through the CPA.
What is most important if you are planning to train abroad and then later come back to Canada to work as a psychologist, is whether your training meets the Canadian requirements to become licensed. This is regulated separately by each province or territory, and your foreign credentials would need to be assessed for equivalence. A list of each of the provincial/territorial regulatory bodies and their requirements is available at: cpa.ca/accreditation/PTlicensingrequirements
You can also check out this international credentialing website for more information about studying abroad: http://www.cicic.ca/860/Study/index.canada
It is a good idea at the outset to contact the relevant provincial/territorial regulatory body of the province in which you would later expect to live and work, in order to confirm with them whether your planned training abroad might meet their requirements for registration. While the regulatory body cannot guarantee anything, at least you can inform yourself of their key requirements and work towards meeting these as best you can.
In order to apply for graduate study in psychology in Canada, you will need to demonstrate that any foreign education you have already taken is equivalent to a Canadian degree. Each university you apply to will have their own requirements, but you can start by checking out this website for more information about studying in Canada: http://www.cicic.ca/857/Study/index.Canada
As for your selection of university programme, a list of all of the CPA accredited professional psychology (graduate level) training programmes can be found at: cpa.ca/accreditation/CPAaccreditedprograms
At the undergraduate level, a list of Canadian universities offering psychology programmes can be found at: cpa.ca/students/resources/canadianuniversities
Note that the admission requirements, deadlines, and fees differ from one programme to another so it is best to check out the websites for each programme that interests you, and/or contact them directly.
Note that the CPA does not regulate the practice of psychology in Canada – this is done separately by each province or territory. Thus, to work as a professional psychologist in Canada, you must become registered with the relevant provincial or territorial licensing body. The requirements to be able to be licensed (e.g. Master’s degree or Ph.D.) also vary from one province/territory to another, so it is best to start by contacting the regulatory body for the province where you plan to live and work. You can find a list of all of the provincial and territorial bodies and their basic registration requirements at: cpa.ca/accreditation/PTlicensingrequirements
As part of the registration process, you will also need to get your foreign education credentials assessed for equivalence, and the regulatory body can tell you what information they need. Another potentially useful resource is the CICIC: http://www.cicic.ca/858/Work.canada
It is possible that some US states or employers will require that psychologists practicing in their jurisdictions have graduated from APA accredited programmes. Many view CPA accreditation as equivalent to APA accreditation but some may not. Consquently, it is a good idea to get in touch with the regulatory body of the province or state in which you intend to practice to find out about their requirements. The contact information for all provincial and state regulatory bodies can be found at: http://www.asppb.net/?page=BdContactNewPG.
Students may be additionally reassured by two key pieces of information:
- It has long been the position of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) that the North American licensing bodies they represent treat APA and CPA accreditation equivalently. Here is a link to the statement to that effect on the ASPPB website: http://www.asppb.net/?page=CPAAccredited
- In 2012 the APA and the CPA signed an agreement on mutual recognition in which each association formally recognizes the equivalence of the other’s accreditation activities. You can read more about this agreement at: cpa.ca/accreditation/accreditationthroughoutnorthamerica/
The CPA has produced a general guide to assist students who are applying for internship, and within this guide there is a section specific to applying to programmes in the US: cpa.ca/documents/Internship_workbook.pdf
**Important note re visa requirements: While the internship document indicates the use of a J1 visa, the process has become less straightforward in recent years. Please feel free to contact the CPA Accreditation Office at email@example.com or CCPPP via their website at ccppp.ca for further assistance.