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Doctoral program earns accreditation

Emily Schrank | Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology recently earned accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA), program director Scott Monroe said.

“We’ve transformed from a University without a clinical psychology program to a University with an eminent, and arguably top-10 program,” he said. “This is, in my opinion, an accomplishment of unprecedented proportions.”

The program began in 2006, and Monroe estimated that the development of an accredited clinical psychology program has taken at least a decade to plan.

“Accreditation by the APA signifies that the clinical program at Notre Dame now adheres to the standards of the APA for doctoral training of graduate students with respect to quality of instruction in the science and practice of clinical [psychology],” Monroe said.

Monroe said the APA accreditation gives Notre Dame graduate students an edge over others in their field.

“This allows our students to be highly competitive in a major field of psychology and to do research and teaching on topics that are core to the mission of Notre Dame,” he said.

The requirements for accreditation are extensive and include specific stipulations regarding coursework, research training and clinical practice, Monroe said.

“We apply for accreditation with a document that attest to these achievements,” he said. “It represents quite an extensive and rigorous piece of information regarding our program over the past several years.”

David Smith, former director of the program, said this recognition is important for Notre Dame because the APA is the only organization authorized by the Department of Education to accredit psychology programs.

“It provides ongoing evaluation and certification of the programs quality,” Smith said. “APA accreditation is the standard by which outside agencies evaluate our graduates.”

Smith said the program is designed to produce doctoral students in clinical psychology that will become the next generation of top researchers in the field.

A variety of research areas are represented in the program, Smith said.

“There is a particular strength in mood disorders,” Smith said. “We have people studying sleep, marriage and relationships, health, stress and biology. There are also other traditional clinical psychology areas covered like eating and personality disorders and child clinical psychology.”

The program has hired four nationally recognized clinical psychologists and five assistant professors since 2006, Smith said.

“That’s tremendous growth to go along with the accreditation of the program,” Smith said. “I expect it to really flourish in the next few years.”