While there are many factors involved in selecting a master’s level counseling or therapy program, the first thing you should look for is accreditation.

Graduating from an accredited program means you’ll receive a rigorous education, and you’ll find it a critical component when seeking employment.

What is accreditation?

Educational institutions and programs that have been accredited have voluntarily undergone a process directed by an external organization to determine that they meet stringent academic and professional standards. The organization sets the standards, and adhering to them means the students in that institution and/or program will be subject to them.

More details on accreditation.

Why is accreditation important?

From a program perspective, accreditation is important in the following ways:

  • It’s an assurance to students and the public that an institution and/or program meets or exceeds standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, student services, and fiscal stability.
  • Some employers, state licensing boards, and doctoral programs require applicants to hold accredited degrees.
  • If you are studying or have studied at more than one university, accreditation of both institutions may make transfer of credits easier.

What are CACREP and COAMFTE?

The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is a specialized accreditation offered by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, which accredits master’s degree, doctoral degree, and post-graduate degree clinical training programs in marriage and family therapy throughout the United States and Canada.  Capella’s MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy program is COAMFTE-accredited

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accreditation from the American Counseling Association, which accredits master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties that are offered by colleges and universities in the United States and throughout the world.  Capella University’s Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling,  Counselor Education and Supervision, and Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy programs are CACREP-accredited.

Three perspectives on accreditation

“There are two primary benefits from graduating from a program that holds specialized accreditation. First, programs that hold specialized accreditations have met stringent standards that attest to the program’s quality. Therefore, graduating from a CACREP and/or COAMFTE accredited program lets future employers, colleagues, and the public know that the education attained meets the standards established by these specialized accrediting bodies.

Second, specialized accreditations in programs that lead to professional state license (such as CACREP and COAMFTE) are often included in the language of individual state statutes, and many states’ licensing agencies/boards specifically mention specialized program accreditation as meeting their education requirements for state licensing.”

— Anna Hultquist, Dean, School of Counseling and Human Services

“The first thing I looked for when researching Master’s programs was COAMFTE accreditation. COAMFTE ensures the program is sound and using ethical practices. The professors are thoroughly trained. The courses are designed to deliver effective training practices, including techniques to diagnose, how to use the DSM, and how to pay attention to other conditions, not just diagnose on the surface symptoms. Employers know how effective COAMFTE is, they know the coursework has been evaluated to make sure it’s rigorous, and they know a candidate from an accredited program meets standards of ethical practice and diagnostic expertise.”

— Heather Duke, MS, Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy student

“The majority of the mental health counseling employers won’t touch counselors who haven’t attended an accredited school. By graduating from a CACREP-accredited program, I was more employable because I was better prepared through my education. CACREP requires smaller class sizes and challenges students to consider other fields in mental health counseling, so we learned about how certain aspects of mental health can have an effect on other aspects.”

— Olivia Baylor, MS, Mental Health Counseling, 2014


Learn more about Capella’s MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MS in School Counseling degree programs.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Learn more about university and program accreditations.