National Register Doctoral Degree Guidelines

The applicant must demonstrate successful completion of a doctoral degree in psychology as defined below.

  1. In the US and Canada, a doctoral degree in psychology from a program that was APA/CPA accredited or ASPPB/National Register designated at the time of graduation.

Note: It has been established that APA/CPA accredited and designated programs generally meet guidelines 2-12; however, transcripts will be reviewed to ensure that the applicant has completed the required coursework in scientific/research foundations and scientific/professional applications (see Guidelines 11 & 12). If transfer coursework is accepted as partial fulfillment of academic requirements by an accredited doctoral program, such transfer coursework is subject to further review by the National Register’s Credential Review Committee. Transfer courses fulfilling curriculum requirements in the applicant’s doctoral program must be completed at a regionally accredited institution of higher education. Transfer coursework completed at a regionally accredited institution that delivers education and training substantially or completely by distance education generally does not meet National Register standards.

If the applicant earned a doctoral degree in psychology from a program completed outside of the US and Canada, the National Register will individually review the program to determine if it meets criteria contained in Guidelines 2–12. Applicants that have completed US and Canadian programs must qualify under guideline 1; i.e., in addition to institutional regional accreditation, a US or Canadian doctoral program in psychology must be 1) accredited by either the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation or the Canadian Psychological Association, or 2) ASPPB/National Register designated at the time of graduation.  Other criteria are as follows:

  1. Training in professional psychology is doctoral training offered in a regionally accredited institution of higher education. A regionally accredited institution is an institution with regional accreditation in the United States, an institution with provincial or territorial authorization in Canada, or in other countries, an institution that is accredited by a body that is deemed by the National Register to be performing a function equivalent to U.S. regional accrediting bodies.
  2. The program, wherever it may be administratively housed, must be clearly identified and labeled as a psychology program. Such a program must specify in pertinent institutional catalogues and brochures its intent to educate and train professional psychologists.
  3. The psychology program must stand as a recognizable, coherent organizational entity within the institution.
  4. There must be a clear authority and primary responsibility for the core and specialty areas whether or not the program cuts across administrative lines.
  5. The program must be an integrated, organized sequence of study.
  6. There must be an identifiable psychology faculty sufficient in size and breadth to carry out its responsibilities and a psychologist responsible for the program.
  7. The program must have an identifiable body of students who are matriculated in that program for a degree.
  8. The program must include supervised practicum, internship, field, or laboratory training appropriate to the practice of psychology.
  9. The curriculum shall encompass a minimum of three academic years of full-time graduate study and a minimum of one year’s residency at the educational institution granting the doctoral degree. Coursework completed at a regionally accredited institution that delivers education and training substantially or completely by distance education generally does not meet National Register standards.
  10. The core program shall require every student to demonstrate competence in each of the following areas of discipline specific knowledge. This typically will be met through substantial instruction in each of these foundational areas, as demonstrated by a minimum of three graduate semester hours, five or more graduate quarter hours (when an academic term is other than a semester, credit hours will be evaluated on the basis of fifteen hours of classroom instruction per semester hour), or the equivalent:
    1. Scientific or professional ethics and standards
    2. Research design and methodology
    3. Statistics
    4. Psychological testing: psychometric theory, methods, construction, and practice
    5. Biological bases of behavior
      1. Bases: physiological psychology, comparative neuroanatomy, sensation and perception, neurophysiology, and psychopharmacology
      2. Applied: substance abuse theory and treatment, health psychology, and behavioral medicine
    6. Cognitive-affective bases of behavior: learning theory, cognitive processes, motivation, and emotion
    7. Social bases of behavior: social psychology, group process theory, organizational and systems theory
    8. Developmental psychology: developmental psychopathology and lifespan development
    9. Individual differences: psychopathology, personality theory, and abnormal psychology
    10. History and systems
  11. All professional education programs in psychology shall require curricula or training relevant to the acquisition and demonstration of profession wide competencies including but not limited to communication and interpersonal skills, consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills, individual and cultural diversity, intervention, professional values and attitudes, and supervision.

[1] We recognize that standards for education and training in professional psychology change over time. In recognition of the ongoing development of academic standards, we may invoke flexible review standards for psychologists who completed their doctoral training prior to 1990. In such instances, the following general precepts will apply:

• The program must have been accredited by the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation or designated by the ASPPB/NR Joint Designation Project.

• The curriculum will be individually reviewed to determine if the program complied with general standards of accreditation in doctoral health service psychology in place at the time of graduation from the program. We recognize that certain coursework may not reflect current titles or nomenclature.


The ASPPB/National Register Joint Designation Committee designated doctoral programs in psychology from 1981–2018. This project was implemented to designate doctoral programs that provided acceptable academic preparation for licensure, but was terminated because graduation from an accredited program is now the standard for recognition in professional psychology.

If you have questions concerning the designation status of your program, or are a doctoral student or trainee, you can email Laura directly!

If you are a licensed psychologist, you can email Kim directly!


Credentialing Requirements

Our credentialing managers will guide you through this process step by step. Review requirements and apply.


1200 New York Ave NW, Ste 800

Washington DC 20005

p: 202.783.7663

f: 202.347.0550

Endorsed by the National Register