Development of the Designation Process

The National Register developed the designation process in 1981 with the publishing of the first edition of Designated Doctoral Programs in Psychology as part of the psychology field’s continuing concern with improving the education and credentialing system in the interest of both the public and the profession. The National Register reviewed publicly available documents submitted by doctoral programs to determine if the programs met the guidelines developed at the 1977 national conference on Education and Credentialing in Psychology held in Washington, DC. The National Register published an annual listing of designated programs in the Designated Doctoral Programs in Psychology which state boards received as a complimentary professional resource for their review of licensure applications. 

In August 1985, the ASPPB delegates approved a proposal presented by the ASPPB Executive Committee to participate in a shared designation effort with the National Register by building on the National Register’s review process, associated database and annual designation publications from 1981 on.  Similarly, the National Register’s Board of Directors agreed to a joint project at a board meeting in June 1985. The first publication of the joint effort of ASPPB and the National Register (seventh edition) was distributed in 1987. 

Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting Designation Criteria, 2015

The online list of designated programs, which is updated regularly, facilitates the review of doctoral programs completed by applicants for licensure and for the National Register credential. Programs that are designated have been reviewed by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee and have been found to meet the Designation Criteria which were developed at the 1977 National Conference on Education and Credentialing in Psychology. Therefore, graduates of designated programs typically will meet the educational requirements for licensing and for the National Register credential.

Designation is a joint effort of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists (National Register). 
Programs that are considered Designated have been determined to meet certain criteria:

  • A program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)* (seehttp://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/doctoral.html) and/or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) meets Criterion 1 of the "Guidelines" and is designated on that basis;  OR
  • Programs that applied for review by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project and provided publicly available documentation demonstrating that the programs meet Criteria 2-11.

Go here for a list of the programs designated as of January 9, 2015.

There are 439 programs listed in this edition, 21 of which are doctoral programs that applied for and demonstrated adherence to Criteria 2-11 as judged by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee (Joint Designation Committee known as JDC).  Each year the JDC reviews new programs, one-third of the currently listed programs, and any designated programs with submitted changes.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and the Council for the National Register of Health Service Psychologists believe that the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project helps to protect the public by identifying the national standards for a doctoral degree in psychology. Both organizations believe that simultaneously reviewing and determining which doctoral programs meet the designation criteria serves the public and the profession.

If there are questions about the use of this list, please direct them in writing to the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project. It is our intent that the information serves credentialing bodies and the public. Any suggestions for improvements in that information will be given careful consideration. 

ASPPB/National Register Designation Project
1200 New York Ave., NW, Ste. 800 
Washington, DC 20005 
Phone: 202-783-7663

Guidelines for Defining a Doctoral Degree in Psychology

The following criteria, as developed at the 1977 National Conference on Education and Credentialing in Psychology, will be used to identify doctoral programs as psychology programs. Reference to "professional psychology" refers to psychology as a profession. The term is not intended in the more restrictive sense of applied or practice areas of psychology as the intent is for a generic designation system.

1) Programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) are recognized as meeting the definition of a professional psychology program. The criteria for accreditation serve as a model for professional psychology training.

OR all of the following criteria, 2 through 11:

2) 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 ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee to be performing a function equivalent to U.S. regional accrediting bodies.

3) 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.

4) The psychology program must stand as a recognizable, coherent organizational entity within the institution.

5) There must be a clear authority and primary responsibility for the core and specialty areas whether or not the program cuts across administrative lines.

6) The program must be an integrated, organized sequence of study.

7) There must be an identifiable psychology faculty sufficient in size and breadth to carry out its responsibilities and a psychologist responsible for the program.

8) The program must have an identifiable body of students who are matriculated in that program for a degree.

9) The program must include supervised practicum, internship, field or laboratory training appropriate to the practice of psychology.

10) 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:

a) scientific and professional ethics and standards;
b) research design and methodology;
c) statistics;
d) psychometric theory;
e) biological bases of behavior: physiological psychology, comparative psychology; neuropsychology, sensation and perception, and psychopharmacology;
f) cognitive-affective bases of behavior: learning, thinking, motivation, and emotion;
g) social bases of behavior: social psychology, group processes, organizational and systems theory; and
h) individual differences: personality theory, human development, and abnormal psychology.

11) All professional education programs in psychology shall include course requirements in specialty areas.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the guidelines for defining a doctoral degree in psychology or want to submit a program for review by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee, contact 202-783-7663.

Serving the Needs of Students, the Public, and the Profession

Doctoral programs in psychology that applied and were designated as meeting the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project criteria are listed. Doctoral programs not listed either have not applied, were not found to meet the criteria,  have withdrawn from designation, or once were listed but no longer meet the criteria and have been deleted from listing.

The purpose of the Designation Project is to provide a mechanism for programs to demonstrate to credentialing bodies, students and the public that they meet widely accepted national standards. This public service protects the public, assists licensing and credentialing bodies in identifying programs that meet national criteria and helps prospective students in choosing doctoral programs. Note that not every doctoral program in psychology that might meet the ASPPB/National Register Designation Criteria has chosen to apply for designation.  

Designated programs are expected to maintain designation standards while the students are enrolled. Students are expected to complete the curriculum requirements as specified and graduate while the program is designated.  

Please note also that an individual is considered a graduate of a designated program if the program was designated at the time the individual's degree was completed.

Identifying Designated Programs

An annual list of programs meeting the designation criteria has been published each year since 1981, initially in print and now online. Users of these publications should note that the date first designated may not necessarily reflect the date that an earlier, perhaps differently titled or structured program at that institution may have been designated. For more information, see below How to Use the Designation List.

Given the frequency of changes in programs at educational institutions, it is suggested that readers contact the National Register if  they cannot locate a program in the online edition. As indicated above, programs may be deleted from designation when requested documentation is not provided or when the documentation provided does not support that the current program meets the ASPPB/National Register Designation Criteria. However, because programs may reapply for designation after being deleted, it is important to check several editions of the publication to see if a program not listed in one edition had been designated previously or became designated later. State and provincial licensing boards and the National Register have these annual publications on file.

How to Use the Designation List

Date First Designated

The online edition lists the date a program was first recognized as a doctoral program in psychology meeting designation criteria and does not necessarily reflect the date the program was initiated at the educational institution. The date first designated appears in parentheses as (ASPPB/NR: 19__). If the program is APA/CPA accredited also, the date of approval is also included, so the listing appears as (ASPPB/NR: 19__; APA/CPA: 19__).

AN INDIVIDUAL IS CONSIDERED A GRADUATE OF A DESIGNATED PROGRAM IF THE PROGRAM WAS DESIGNATED AT THE TIME THE INDIVIDUAL'S DEGREE WAS COMPLETED.

Listing of Canadian Doctoral Programs and CPA Accreditation

Another feature of this publication is the listing of accreditation by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). The three major relevant professional organizations in Canada endorsed this project: the Council of Provincial Associations of Psychologists (CPAP), the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), and the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CRHSPP). The 1988 edition of this publication included for the first time Canadian doctoral programs that submitted the documentation in support of meeting the "Guidelines" and that which the ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee evaluated as meeting the "Guidelines." Therefore, 1988 is the earliest date of designation (date in parentheses after each program) for any Canadian program. Beginning with the 1990 edition, all programs receiving joint accreditation by APA and CPA were noted as such as well as those receiving accreditation by only one of those organizations. 

Institutional Accreditation (in the U.S., Canada & other countries)

In the United States, the requirement for regional accreditation (Criterion 2) of the educational institution in the designation criteria refers to regional accreditation by one of the six regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA) or the United States Department of Education (USDOE). Programs in educational institutions that are candidates for regional accreditation or have probationary status do not meet this criterion and therefore are not included in this publication. However, a program is eligible to apply for listing as soon as full regional accreditation status is achieved for the institution.

In Canada, the requirement for institutional accreditation refers to an institution with provincial authorization. 

To date, only programs located in Canada and in the United States have qualified for designation and listing in this online publication. However, language was added to clarify that this requirement also refers to an institution that is accredited by a body  that is deemed by the ASPPB/ National Register Designation Committee to be performing a function equivalent to U.S. regional accrediting bodies. This provision allows institutions outside the United States and Canada to apply for designation. 

Designation of Programs Only

Designated programs are identified in the online publication, Designated Doctoral Programs in Psychology Meeting Designation Criteria under the Department or Division in the educational institution. Specific programs are listed with identifying letters (i.e., a., b.). Some programs have indicated that there is a special emphasis or concentration in the doctoral program, and these are included in italics below the name of the recognized program. However, the designation process makes no assessment or designation about such areas of concentration within recognized programs. Reviews are only of programs as listed and not of any special focus within individual doctoral programs.

If any substantive changes occur in a program, it may be considered a new program and reviewed as such by the JDC.

Disclaimer:  The ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee (Designation Committee) makes every effort to ensure that this website is updated to reflect current Designation Committee information. However, this information is subject to change without notice.

Update for ASPPB/NR Designated Programs and State/Provincial Boards

Although there is a rotating, three-year cycle of review for current programs, the JDC expects institutions and educational departments to submit revisions and supporting documentation at any time there are changes made to the program.  For instance, substantive changes to core faculty or foundation coursework are material to the continuing designation status of the program and must be communicated and approved by the JDC.

Similarly, we ask that state, provincial and territorial boards submit revisions whenever they have questions about programs.  State, provincial and territorial boards in psychology are encouraged to submit information on doctoral programs stemming from their experience in evaluating the licensure applicants’ graduate transcripts.  This information is welcomed, because it serves as  important dated data for the review and monitoring of doctoral programs by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project.

Designated Programs No Longer Meeting Designation Criteria

Programs may be deleted from designation when documentation requested by the JDC is not provided in a timely manner or when the documentation provided indicates that the current program no longer meets the ASPPB/National Register Designation Criteria. When a designated program is determined to no longer meet designation criteria, only those enrolled students who have completed their required work and qualified for graduation from the originally approved and designated program while it was designated will be considered to have graduated from an ASPPB/National Register Designated Doctoral Program in Psychology.

If programs make substantive changes, for example,   in educational goals, core faculty or required coursework, they should guide their students through the original program in a timely manner so as to fulfill the requirements for graduation from a designated doctoral program. Programs in such transitions have met their responsibility to currently enrolled students through a number of approaches. In some instances this has involved hiring a consultant to work with the students and faculty to handle the transition. Regardless of approach, the university or professional school is responsible for fulfilling its obligations to currently enrolled students.

Designated Programs No Longer Accepting New Students

When a program formally notifies the JDC that it is no longer admitting students, the program has two listing options:

(1) Retain Designation Status For One Year

The chief academic officer of the institution submits a letter to the ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee informing the Committee that the program is closed to new students. At a specific date determined by the JDC, typically one year, the program is deleted from designation and the program listing is removed from the website. In the interim, the ASPPB/National Register Designation web page states for one year that this "Program is no longer admitting new students." This procedure applies only to programs considered by the JDC to meet designation criteria until the requested date for closure. Thus, individuals who have matriculated for a degree in a designated program that subsequently closes to new students may be considered as having completed a designated program when they graduate if they complete the requirements within the time frame determined by the JDC.

If a program decides to close and does not admit more students, the program faculty is responsible for guiding currently enrolled students through the program in a timely manner or assisting them to find adequate and appropriate placement in other doctoral programs. Programs in the process of closure have met their responsibility to currently enrolled students through a number of approaches. In some instances this has involved hiring a consultant to work with the students and faculty. Regardless of approach, the institution is responsible for fulfilling its obligations to currently enrolled students.

(2) Change to Designated/Inactive Status With Annual Monitoring

A program is eligible for the designated/inactive status if it is closed to new students, is scheduled to be phased out, and requests special accommodations for students so that they may move towards graduation from a designated program in a timely manner. The program submits the names of those students who have matriculated in the program, completed most of their coursework, but still have remaining requirements such as internship and dissertation completion.  Along with the student information, the program submits the predicted graduation date of each student as part of an agreement by the institution to participate in the JDC’s close monitoring of each student’s progress.  The chief academic officer of the institution submits a letter authorizing the program’s participation in the monitoring plan. After the JDC approves the initial plan for each student, the program submits an annual report indicating each student’s progress.  If a student does not make sufficient progress, the program informs the JDC regarding the action taken by the academic institution.

The annual monitoring fee for this designated/inactive status is $295, payable at the time the program submits its plan and annual reports to the JDC. Designated/Inactive programs will continue to be included in the listing of Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting Designation Criteria for a one year time period. If students make progress each year towards graduation, the JDC can renew the listing status until the institution awards the degree to students identified in the original plan or terminates the students’ pursuit of a degree.

Public Statement for Accurately Communicating Designation Status

It is recommended that schools and departments with designated programs use the following statement in catalogs, departmental brochures, on the website and other public documents to communicate their programs' designation status: 

This program meets the "Guidelines for Defining 'Doctoral Degree in Psychology’" as implemented by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project. Therefore, a graduate of this designated program who decides to apply for licensure as a psychologist typically will meet the jurisdictional educational requirements for licensing. However, individual circumstances vary, and, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied prior to being licensed as a psychologist. Please contact the state / provincial / territorial licensing board in the jurisdiction in which you plan to apply for exact information. Additional information including links to jurisdictions is available on the ASPPB's web site: www.asppb.org. 

Once licensed, a graduate of a designated program is eligible to apply for credentialing as a Health Service Psychologist by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. Graduation from a designated program typically ensures that the program completed meets the educational requirements for the National Register credential. However, individual circumstances vary, and, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied prior to being credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and listed on the FindaPsychologist.org database. Doctoral students may apply to have their credentials banked and reviewed prior to licensure. For further information about the National Psychologist's Trainee Register and the National Register application process, consult the National Register's web site: www.nationalregister.org.

Designation Serves as a Resource to ASPPB Member Boards

PROGRAM DESIGNATION IS NOT INTENDED TO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL REVIEW OF APPLICANTS FOR LICENSURE.

This online publication expedites the review of the credentials of individuals seeking licensure as psychologists. Students, faculty, licensing boards, and the courts should understand that this process does not substitute for the judgment of licensing authorities as to the ability of any program to qualify a candidate for licensure/ certification or ensure that the program meets the jurisdiction's mandated curriculum requirements. 

Requirements differ across ASPPB member jurisdictions. The Designation Project is simply the effort of two organizations to provide a professional resource to various licensing boards, organizations, and individuals. There is no requirement that licensing boards utilize this publication, and no consumer, governmental body or court should assume such.

Designation Serves as a Resource to the National Register

PROGRAM DESIGNATION IS NOT INTENDED TO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL REVIEW OF APPLICANTS FOR CREDENTIALING. 

Unless there are special circumstances, and subject to review of graduate transcripts, graduates of programs designated at the time of their graduation can expect their academic work and degrees to be acceptable in meeting one of the three basic requirements for the National Register Health Service Psychologists credential, a doctoral degree in psychology. [The other two criteria for listing are: (a) licensure as a psychologist at the independent practice level, and (b) two years of supervised experience in health service, in which one year is in an internship or an organized health service training program, and one year is at the postdoctoral level.

Applicants to the National Register are evaluated on an individual basis if they did not graduate from a designated program but do fall into one of the following conditions:

  • Applicants who earned their degrees from programs not listed at the time of their graduation and that may no longer exist.
  • Applicants graduating from programs that preceded the designation project (prior to 1980)
  • Applicants who have earned their degrees from educational institutions outside of the United States and Canada

In any of these instances, the applicant will have to demonstrate on the basis of official university documentation that the program completed met at the relevant times Criteria 2-11 of the Guidelines for Defining a Doctoral Degree in Psychology.

Designation Committees and Staff

ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee

Beginning in 1986, each organization has appointed three members to review the documentation on each program to determine whether the program meets the guidelines for defining a doctoral degree. The members of the 2014 ASPPB/National Register Designation Committee [also known as the Joint Designation Committee (JDC)] and the parent body each person represents follow:

Ralph Packard, Ph.D., 2013-2014 Chair(ASPPB)
David S. Hargrove, Ph.D. (National Register)
Susan Phillips, Ph.D. (National Register)
Alex Siegel, J.D., Ph.D. (ASPPB)
George Stricker, Ph.D., (National Register)
Tom Vaughn, Ph.D. (ASPPB) 


ASPPB/National Register Designation Appeals Committee

The ASPPB/National Register Designation Appeals Committee [also known as the Joint Designation Appeals Committee (JDAC)] reviews programs determined not to meet all of Criteria 2-11 of the "Guidelines for Defining a Doctoral Degree in Psychology" and which have appealed the decision within 30 days. The 2014 members of the JDAC are as follows: 

Scott Miller, Ph.D., Chair (ASPPB)
Richard Sherman, Ph.D., (ASPPB)
Barbara Van Horne, Ph.D., (National Register)


ASPPB & The National Register

Designation is a joint effort of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists (National Register).

National Register of Health Service Psychologists
1200 New York Ave NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005 
Phone: 202-783-7663
Fax: 202-347-0550
www.nationalregister.org 

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
P.O. Box 3079
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Phone: 678-216-1175 
Fax: 678-216-1176
www.asppb.org