School of Education Blog

CACREP Accreditation Explained

In today’s competitive job marketplace it pays to distinguish your resume. Whether you are looking to become a certified school counselor or are already certified and want to further your professional development, attending a CACREP-accredited master’s program shows employers you are fully prepared to assume the responsibilities of a school counselor.

The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling (and its specialties) that are offered by colleges and universities. As a CACREP program, Loyola’s M.A. and M.Ed. in school counseling must adhere to CACREP’s rigorous standards and policies, which are established by experts in the field. Additionally, the Loyola program must consistently evaluate and report on its program in order to affirm its commitment to CACREP’s high standards and to maintain its status as an accredited program.

If you want to learn more about CACREP, here are two facts: the organization has been around since 1981 and it’s recognized by both the American Counseling Association and the U.S. Department of Education.

Currently the M.A. and M.Ed. in school counseling is a 48 credit hour master’s degree program. To continue to meet CACREP’s standards, the program is transitioning to 60 credit hours. The program is open to students from all undergraduate backgrounds, from business and fashion to social work and psychology. New students are admitted in both fall and spring.

While graduation from a CACREP-accredited program is not required to become a school counselor, it demonstrates a high level of professionalism that can be beneficial. Licensing bodies often use the same standards as accredited programs so the CACREP curriculum is well in line with licensure requirements. Attending a CACREP program also gives you a competitive edge when applying for a job.

“The primary reason to attend a CACREP program is that employers know students in a CACREP-accredited program graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to be very well prepared to enter the field,” explains Jennifer Watkinson, Ph.D., director and associate professor at the School of Counseling. In fact, research shows that CACREP graduates perform better on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

After graduation from the program, students are eligible to be certified as a school counselor in Maryland or another state or they can pursue further professional certifications. The M.A. and M.Ed. in school counseling offers several possibilities.

Students in Loyola’s School Counseling masters programs gain access to professional faculty who engage with students in and out of the classroom and a program that operates at the highest level. Graduates leave with the core competencies needed to operate in today’s dynamic schools.  

“A twenty-first century school counselor must understand how to work systemically and collaboratively in order to promote the academic career and social and emotional development of all their students,” says Watkinson. “We want our graduates to be leaders, to understand when inequities exist and how to advocate on behalf of groups of students who don’t have a voice. They have to be politically savvy and understand the policies and practices that govern their schools. ”

By selecting Loyola University’s CACREP-accredited program you become a culturally competent school counselor able to implement a comprehensive school counseling program. You also gain the distinction of graduating from a program that operates under the highest standards in the field.