USF’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program Receives Elite Accreditation for Research
The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Training Program within the University of South Florida’s Department of Psychology received initial notification that it has been approved for accreditation by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). The program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1975, but PCSAS is a relatively new system that accredits doctoral programs based specifically on the strength of their training in research. Thus, the main criteria for accreditation are the research productivity of the program’s faculty, and the career outcomes of the program’s alumni.
The process of applying for PCSAS accreditation began last summer by attempting to contact all 79 doctoral graduates over the past ten years to gather data on their current positions and activities. The formal application was submitted in February, with a detailed description of the program’s curriculum, faculty, and alumni. In April, PCSAS sent site visitors from Harvard University and the University of Delaware to validate the accuracy of the application by interviewing faculty, students, and administrators. Based on reports by the site visitors and other reviewers, the PSCAS Review Committee voted in May to grant accreditation to USF’s program. Accreditation is valid for 10 years.
Dr. Thomas Brandon, professor of psychology and the lead author of the application that was submitted for consideration of accreditation noted the meaning of gaining PCSAS accreditation. “This is a distinguishing accreditation for any program at a major research university,” he said. “It places us within an elite group of research programs nationwide, and it should guarantee that we will continue to attract top caliber faculty and graduate students.” The graduate program is already highly competitive, typically receiving over 250 applications each year from throughout the world for 5-10 openings.
Dr. Vicky Phares, the director of the USF clinical doctoral training program was thrilled, but not surprised, to learn the news of the PCSAS accreditation. “I am really proud of our faculty and students—they work hard and routinely show excellence in their accomplishments. It is gratifying to know that a prestigious group such as PCSAS is also aware of this superb department.”
The chair of the psychology department, Dr. Michael Brannick, is proud of his department’s latest recognition: “Such an accreditation recognizes our achievements in research and is consistent with USF’s aspirations to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with AAU institutions.” The psychology department also has research intensive doctoral programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and in Cognition, Neuroscience, and Social Psychology.
Clinical psychology programs from four universities were considered for PCSAS accreditation during the most recent review, and three were approved. Along with USF, accreditation was granted to Northwestern University and University of Missouri. Other programs that have achieved PCSAS accreditation include: University of Illinois, University of Arizona, Washington University in St. Louis, McGill University, Stony Brook University, University of Kentucky, and University of Southern California.