Whether you have a background in counseling or are entering the field after a career change, choosing the right Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) program can have a huge impact on your career. A MAC program can be a valuable asset, both when applying to jobs and working with clients, and consequently, it is important that you know you are receiving a quality education.
It is critical to check the accreditation of any university in which you are considering enrolling. When it comes to choosing a MAC program, ensuring that the program is accredited specifically by the Council of Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) is becoming increasingly important.
What is CACREP accreditation?
The choice to pursue a MAC program is not one to take lightly. You are making an investment of your time, energy and resources to further your career and ensure that you are providing the best possible care to your clients. Before you formally enroll, you will want to make sure that the quality of the program is up to par. A simple way to ensure that is to check to see if the program is CACREP accredited.
CACREP, established in 1981, is an accrediting agency that ensures professional standards are met in graduate programs in counseling in the U.S. and around the world. CACREP’s vision is two-fold: “encouraging and promoting the continuing development and improvement of preparation programs; and preparing counseling and related professionals to provide services consistent with the ideal of optimal human development.” CACREP also ensures that graduate programs in counseling are professionally and financially stable and cover all the knowledge and skill areas that a student will need to succeed as a counselor.
The importance of an accredited program
There are many reasons why CACREP accreditation is valuable when you make the decision to pursue a higher degree. When employers see your MAC program on your resume, one of the things that they may look for is accreditation. In some states, CACREP accreditation even is required to practice. For example, Counseling Today, a publication of the American Counseling Association, reported that as of 2018, a CACREP degree will be required to become licensed in the state of Ohio.
However, CACREP accreditation is not just about the preference of an employer or a single state. Some counseling organizations also are expressing a clear preference for this status, which is putting limits on some counselors who did not complete their degree at an accredited school. For example, the National Board for Certified Counselors announced that as of Jan. 1, 2022, applicants applying for the credential of National Certified Counselor (NCC) must have a degree from a university that is accredited by CACREP. Professionals who currently have NCC credentials or will receive them before that date will not be affected by the change and will continue to be recognized by the organization after the switch is made.
The online MAC degree through Bradley University is not only CACREP accredited but is also regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is a program that you can trust to prepare you for a successful career in counseling.