Certifying Practitioners and Accrediting Programs: The United States Experience

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Melodye LEHNERER , Human Behavior, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
Harry PERLSTADT , Sociology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
This presentation is intended to clarify the distinction between the certification of individual practitioners and the accreditation of programs in sociological practice (applied, clinical and public sociology).

In the United States the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS) certifies individual practitioners at the Master's or Doctoral level. Certification is earned by a sociological practitioner to document their qualifications beyond an academic degree. It is a process of evaluation by previously certified peers and includes the submission of a portfolio and the completion of a demonstration in which applicants showcase their action oriented work. Certification is not licensure as granted by a state or commonwealth.

In contrast, The Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS) accredits programs.  Sociology programs can voluntarily seek accreditation to document their quality and performance.  It involves a program self-study and external peer review of the program. Programs must meet curriculum standards in the areas of sociological theory, methods, and practical experience such as an internship.  Accreditation provides impartial advice on improving the education of students. The Commission accredits programs at the Baccalaureate, Master's, and Doctoral Level.

This presentation is intended to be an informative one in which both the process of certification for an individual and the process of accreditation for a program will be covered. A closing argument will be made that sociological practice - applied, clinical, and public - can be made stronger if it is populated by practitioners who are certified graduates of an accredited program.