Specialized accreditation of counselor education programs: a survey of the current status

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to determine why some counselor educators seek specialized accreditation for their programs, and some others do not. The relationship between institutional size, institutional control and faculty publication record and the decision to seek accreditation was also studied. The basic design of this study involved a national survey completed by 122 chairpersons in counselor education programs. This represented a 75.3% response. Both parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses were performed. Ten institutions were selected for site visits and/or follow-up interviews by telephone.

The results of the study indicated that many reasons account for voluntary application for specialized accreditation. A high correlation between expectations and achieved outcomes was reported. The interview data indicated that economic and status reasons are the most important motivating factors in seeking accreditation, even more important relating to quality assurance and program improvement. The two most frequent reasons for not seeking accreditation were related to cost and lack of perceived benefits. A correlation was found between institutional size, control, and faculty publication record and the decision to seek accreditation. Large graduate schools tended to be recognized by more than one accrediting agency. Small graduate schools tended not to have recognition by any specialized agency. A majority of private institutions did not have any specialized accreditation. Institutions without specialized accreditation or those accredited by NCATE reported fewer faculty publications than those institutions recognized by two or more agencies. There was strong agreement by respondents that the self-study and accreditation review helps to sustain or enhance program quality.