Doctoral Program Earns Counseling Accreditation

Jan. 25, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Sam Houston State University’s doctoral program in counselor education has become one of only 54 programs in the nation and the only one in Southeast Texas to receive accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

“Accreditation by CACREP is the premier recognition of program quality for a counseling education program,” said Richard Watts, professor and director of the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Counselor Education.

“Our program was accredited with no conditions whatsoever,” he said. “That’s not all that uncommon with programs that undergo reaccreditation, but for this being a first-time accreditation, it is a very significant.”

The approval of the doctoral program was added to the accreditation already in place for SHSU’s master’s program in counselor education, which was received in 2006. Both programs will be up for reaccreditation in 2014.

While the College of Education is already accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, CACREP accreditation is special in that it is discipline specific, focusing solely on counseling education, and there are a number of logistical issues that have to be in place before application, according to Watts.

“CACREP requires that entry-level programs, master’s level programs, be accredited prior to the doctoral level being able to be accredited, and you have to have graduates from the program before you can apply for accreditation,” he said.

SHSU’s doctoral program in counselor education began matriculating students in June 2003. Since then, 13 students have graduated from the program that takes a minimum of three years to complete.

A “competitive entry” program, only 10 to 12 are accepted annually. Those in the program are responsible for 69 hours of course work, including a minimum of nine hours for a dissertation, clinical and teaching internships and two semesters of supervising master’s students.

“It’s strongly preparing them for academia, but it also prepares them to supervise counselors, and they also have a clinical piece,” Watts said. “The focus is preparing people for the professorate, but there are clinical and supervision components built in.”

Accreditation means several things, for both the program itself and the students who are interested in earning a doctorate.

“It has to do with quality control because you know that the program has been thoroughly examined and meets high national standards,” Watts said. “It’s an indication of a really good program that has been carefully examined.

“Having this doctoral program CACREP accredited is also a tremendous advantage for our students because every faculty announcement in the journals, the magazines, say without exception ‘CACREP accredited graduate preferred’ so this is really going to help our students.”

SHSU joins six other universities in Texas with the approval, including St. Mary’s, Texas A&M’s Corpus Christi and Commerce universities, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of North Texas and Texas Tech.

“Because of the rigor of going through the CACREP accreditation process, there are only 53 in the country that are CACREP accredited. It’s a really big deal,” Watts said. “We’re very proud of it. It was a lot of work, but it certainly will be worth it, both for the prestige of the program and for the marketability of our students.”

The application deadline for the program’s eighth cohort is Feb. 1.

For more information on SHSU’s doctorate in counselor education, visit


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