National Register Doctoral Degree Guidelines

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

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

Note: Transcripts will be reviewed to ensure that the applicant has completed the required coursework in scientific/research foundations and scientific/professional applications (see Guideline 10). 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.

OR, if the applicant earned a doctoral degree in psychology from a program that meets one of the two exceptions listed below, the National Register will individually review the program to determine if it meets criteria contained in Guidelines 2–11.

EXCEPTIONS to APA/CPA Accreditation and ASPPB/National Register Designation:

●  Doctoral programs in psychology completed prior to 1988 in Canada.

●  Doctoral programs in psychology completed outside of the U.S. and Canada.

  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. The core program shall require every student to demonstrate competence in each of the following substantive areas. 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 and professional ethics and standards
    2. Research design and methodology
    3. Statistics
    4. Psychometric theory
    5. Biological bases of behavior: physiological psychology, comparative psychology, neuropsychology, sensation and perception, and psychopharmacology
    6. Cognitive-affective bases of behavior: learning, thinking, motivation, and emotion
    7. Social bases of behavior: social psychology, group processes, organizational and systems theory
    8. Individual differences: personality theory, human development, and abnormal psychology
  10. All professional education programs in psychology shall include course requirements in specialty areas.


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!


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