Clinical Psychology/Counseling Master’s Program Gets Accreditation
Las Vegas, N.M. — The Clinical Psychology/Counseling Master’s Program at New Mexico Highlands University received accreditation in November from the Masters Psychology Accreditation Council.
Nationwide, only about 22 universities are accredited by the council, the sole accrediting entity in the United States for master’s degree programs in psychology.
The American Psychological Association only accredits doctoral programs.
“I think this accreditation is an important recruitment tool, because very few master’s level psychology programs in the country are accredited,” said Linda LaGrange, associate vice president for academic affairs and longtime psychology professor. “Our clinical psychology/counseling track provides our graduate students with comprehensive psychological training in research, therapy and assessment.”
LaGrange said that one of the things the accreditation reviewers noticed is there’s a good balance between clinical and research expertise among the Highlands University psychology faculty.
In their findings report, examiners Thomas Boyd and Jennifer Ceminsky wrote that the visiting accreditation team found “an effective and adequately rigorous training program” at Highlands.
The examiners also evaluated an in-depth self study the Clinical Psychology/Counseling Master’s Program prepared.
Some highlights the council’s examiners noted in their report include:
Program graduates demonstrate marketability and success, whether they enter a clinical position or continue to a doctoral program.
The psychology faculty provides valuable research opportunities for students, including presenting their findings at professional conferences and in publications. Research experience is a key to doctoral program acceptance and success.
The program is successful in interfacing with community resources, particularly in providing practicum training experiences.
Graduates noted an appreciation for the multicultural training that was part of their academic experience.
Ian Williamson, a psychology professor, chairman of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Highlands, said competition is fierce for psychology doctoral programs, with hundreds of applicants often applying for a handful of doctoral openings at major research institutions.
“This accreditation gives our students an important competitive edge in applying for jobs as licensed counselor’s at the master’s level and for Ph.D. programs,” Williamson said. “This independent review board links our students to the professional community and validates their degree by showing it’s from a rigorous graduate program with professional value.”
Highlands University already has a track record for its psychology graduate students being accepted into doctoral programs.
In 2010 alone, five graduates started psychology doctoral programs around the country from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Denver.
“All five of these doctoral candidates are doing well in their Ph.D. programs,” Williamson said.