Criteria Revised May, 2006
Clarification Revised June 2011
Postdoctoral training programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association are recognized as meeting the APPIC Postdoctoral Membership criteria. All others must meet all of the following criteria (i.e., 1 through 14 below) and are reviewed for adherence to the criteria every three years.
EDUCATIONAL NOTE: A program's adherence to APPIC membership criteria does not guarantee that the trainees in the program will meet individual state, provincial, or territorial licensing requirements.
- A postdoctoral training program is an organized experience which, in contrast to on the-job training, is designed to provide the Fellow with a planned, programmed sequence of supervised training experiences. The primary task is advanced training in an area of professional psychology.
The organization of a postdoctoral program is evident in a clear:
For programs with multiple sites, the services rendered by the Fellow, the supervision provided, and the training director's involvement is clearly described for each site.
- statement of the goals and objectives of the training activities.
- description of the training plan, location, and sequence of direct service experiences.
- description of the training curriculum: i.e., the content, duration, and frequency of the training activities.
- description of how the psychology training program is integrated into the larger organization.
- The postdoctoral program has a designated psychologist who is clearly responsible for the integrity and quality of the training program, who has administrative authority commensurate with those responsibilities, and who is licensed as a psychologist in the jurisdiction where the program exists. This director has expertise in an area of postdoctoral training offered and has credentials of excellence such as the American Board of Professional Psychology diploma, status as a Fellow in APA or CPA, record of active research productivity, or clear evidence of professional competence and leadership.
The postdoctoral program is administered by a doctoral level licensed (certified or registered for independent practice) psychologist who:
- directs and organizes the training program and its resources.
- is responsible for selection of Fellows.
- monitors and evaluates the training program's goals and activities.
- documents and maintains Fellows' training records.
- The sponsoring institution has two or more psychologists on staff who are currently licensed as psychologists in the jurisdiction in which the program exists. The postdoctoral program has a training faculty which includes at least one psychologist with expertise in each area of postdoctoral training offered and has credentials of excellence such as a Fellow in APA or CPA, record of active research productivity, or clear evidence of professional competence and leadership in that program focus area.
Postdoctoral Fellows' primary clinical supervision and role modeling must be provided by psychologists licensed (certified or registered) for independent practice at the doctoral level on the program's staff who:
- are officially designated as postdoctoral program supervisors.
- are significantly involved in the training program.
- show evidence of expertise in the focus area(s) of the training program.
- The postdoctoral program includes a minimum of two hours per week of regularly scheduled, face-to-face individual supervision with the specific intent of supervising the psychological services rendered directly by the Fellow. This supervision is provided by staff members of the sponsoring institution who carry professional practice responsibility for the cases being supervised and are licensed as psychologists in the jurisdiction in which the program exists.
Supervisors need to be clearly designated by the agency as professionally responsible for the cases (for example, countersigning documentation or having their name on the treatment plan or case summary). Two hours of regularly scheduled, face-to-face, individual supervision by a licensed psychologist should be provided weekly regardless of whether the postdoctoral program is one year full-time or two years half-time.
- In addition to individual supervision, the program includes at least two additional hours per week in learning activities, such as: case conferences involving cases in which the Fellow is actively involved; seminars dealing with clinical issues; co-therapy with a staff person, including discussion; group supervision; or additional individual supervision.
Above and beyond the two hours of individual supervision each Fellow receives weekly, the Postdoctoral Program should provide two hours per week of additional learning experiences, regardless of whether the program is one year full-time or two years half-time. These learning experiences should be regularly scheduled, and may include but are not limited to additional individual or group supervision, seminars, case conferences, workshops, or co-therapy with a supervisor. Clear descriptions of the learning activities should be provided.
- At least 25% of the Fellow's time is in professional psychological services.
A minimum of 25% of the Fellow's time should be spent in provision of professional psychological services to patients/clients, students, consultees, and/or agencies. These services may include but are not limited to assessment, intervention, consultation, policy making, program design and implementation, provision of supervision, and clinical research.
- Admission requirements include completion of all professional doctoral degree requirements from a regionally accredited institution of higher education or an APA/CPA-accredited program and predoctoral internship meeting APPIC standards. This is defined as having on the first day of the fellowship either the diploma in hand or a letter from the Director of graduate studies verifying the completion of all degree requirements pending institution graduation ceremony.
APA guidelines on specialty change are followed. Fellows having completed doctoral studies in fields other than clinical, counseling, or school psychology must have received a certificate of equivalency from an APA/CPA accredited university program attesting to their having met APA/CPA standards, including internship.
Postdoctoral Fellows must have completed the doctoral degree before beginning their postdoctoral training. At a minimum, Fellows must have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning, including an internship meeting APPIC standards.
- If the Postdoctoral Training Program requires that Fellows possess a doctoral degree from an APA- or CPA-accredited program, it need not state the requirement that it be a regionally accredited institution of higher learning. In this case, the brochure should state that Fellows must have completed all doctoral degree requirements from an APA/CPA-accredited program.
- If the Postdoctoral Training Program requires that Fellows have completed an APA- or CPA-accredited internship, it need not state the requirement that it meets APPIC standards. In this case, the brochure should state that Fellows must have completed an APA/CPA-accredited internship.
- If the Postdoctoral Training Program does not require completion of an APA- or CPA-accredited doctoral degree program or an APA- or CPA-accredited internship, the brochure should state that Fellows must have completed all professional doctoral degree requirements from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, including an internship meeting APPIC standards.
- If the Postdoctoral Training Program accepts applications from individuals who have previously received a doctoral degree in some area of psychology other than clinical, counseling or school, the brochure should state that such applicants must have received a certificate of equivalency from an APA/CPA accredited university program designed for the "retraining" of such psychologists, attesting to completion of all requirements, including an internship meeting APPIC standards.
- The postdoctoral agency has a minimum of one full-time equivalent postdoctoral Fellow at the postdoctoral level of training. This postdoctoral Fellow must be on site and in training at the time of initial application for APPIC Membership.
The agency must have a minimum of one full-time Fellow or two half-time Fellows in training at the time of initial application for APPIC Membership, and should maintain this minimum for any period of training. In special circumstances, such as changes in funding or reorganization, the Postdoctoral Training Program may maintain APPIC Membership for up to one year without training Fellows, as long as the training program is otherwise in good standing.
- Postdoctoral trainees have a title, such as "Intern," "Resident," "Fellow," or other designation of trainee status.
The title should indicate the Fellow is in training, and it is helpful if the title distinguishes the Fellow from other trainees, e.g., if the title "Intern," is used, then the full title should be "Postdoctoral Intern," to distinguish the Fellow from those completing a predoctoral internship.
- The sponsoring institution has a written statement or brochure made available to prospective Fellows which describes the goals and content of the program, program organization, entrance requirements, program faculty/staff, and mechanisms for Fellow evaluation.
Postdoctoral training programs must make available descriptions of their training programs which give applicants and Fellows a clear understanding of the program in terms of:
- the program's training goals and objectives.
- the program's training methods, content, and curriculum, including rotations offered or required, seminars, supervision, and other training experiences.
- the program's training resources, including training/supervisory staff, physical facilities, training support.
- the sites at which training and services are provided. For programs with multiple sites, clear descriptions are given for each site of services rendered by Fellows, supervision offered, and involvement of the Director of Training.
- specific application requirements. Postdoctoral programs must clearly indicate that applicants must have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree before beginning their postdoctoral training, and that they must have received the doctoral degree from an APA/CPA-accredited program or from a "regionally accredited institution of higher education," including an APA/CPA-accredited internship or an internship "meeting APPIC standards," as described in Criteria #7.
- methods of Fellow evaluation, including the frequency of evaluation (a minimum of 2 written evaluations per year) and an indication of due process procedures in the event of a grievance.
- licensure requirements for postdoctoral supervised practice. Programs must indicate whether satisfactory completion of the postdoctoral training program meets postdoctoral supervised practice requirements for licensure or certification in the jurisdiction within which the program resides.
- Postdoctoral programs have documented due process procedures, including notice, hearing, and appeal for postdoctoral trainees. The procedures are given to postdoctoral trainees at the beginning of the postdoctoral training period.
Due process procedures describe how an agency deals with postdoctoral fellows' deficiencies and how the postdoctoral fellows handle grievances with the training program. The documentation would include:
- a description of formal evaluation and complaint procedures.
- the program's and fellow's responsibilities and rights in the process.
- the appeal process.
- a description of procedures if fellows have grievances about their training or supervision.
Programs need two written policies: (1) Due Process and (2) Grievance Process. The procedures must be specific to the postdoctoral fellowship training program; reliance on a more general HR policy is insufficient. Both procedures should be provided to postdoctoral fellows at the commencement of training.
Due Process is a written procedure that comes into use when a postdoctoral fellow's behavior is problematic. (The use of the term "impaired" is discouraged because if one identifies a postdoctoral fellow by that term, legal issues having to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could be invoked.) Due process must include three elements: Notice (i.e. the postdoctoral fellow must be notified that problematic behavior has been identified and that the postdoctoral fellow is addressing the problem); Hearing (i.e. the program must have a formal process by which the identified problematic postdoctoral fellow has an opportunity to hear concerns and to respond to the concerns); and Appeal (i.e. the postdoctoral fellow must have an opportunity to appeal the actions taken by the program in regards to the identified problematic behavior. The appeal should extend at least one step beyond the Training Director).
A Grievance Procedure is a process that is invoked when a postdoctoral fellow has a complaint against the training program. The procedure should include specific steps a postdoctoral fellow takes in the complaint process and be broad enough to cover any and all complaints that may arise for fellows (e.g. complaints about evaluations, supervision, stipends/salary, harassment, etc.).
- The postdoctoral training program (minimum 1500 hours) must be completed in no less than 9 months and no more than 24 months (two years half-time). Depending on the area and standards of specialty practice, a postdoctoral program may be more than one year.
Postdoctoral training programs may be part-time or full-time experiences, and must be completed in not less than nine months, and not more than two years. Fellows must receive two hours per week of individual supervision and two hours per week of additional training activities as described in Criteria #4 and #5, regardless of their full-time or part-time status.
- A certificate of completion is granted upon fulfillment of the program requirements.
The certificate should clearly indicate:
The Director of Training should sign the certificate.
- the name of the institution, organization or agency.
- the postdoctoral nature of the training program.
- the focus area of the training program, if applicable.
- beginning and ending dates of the Fellow's training.
Example: the XYZ University certifies that Jane Doe, Ph.D. has successfully completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Psychology from September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2002.
- The program has the necessary financial resources to achieve its training goals and objectives. Postdoctoral stipends shall be reasonable, fair, and stated clearly in advance. Unfunded postdoctoral positions are allowable only in unusual and infrequent circumstances.
APPIC requires postdoctoral positions to be equitably funded across the site. Postdoctoral stipends shall be set at a level that is representative and fair in relationship to the geographic location and clinical setting of the training site. Stipends should be reasonable based on a comparison with other APPIC member programs in your area. Unfunded or poorly funded postdoctoral positions are allowed only in unusual and infrequent circumstances in which the creation of such a position would serve to alleviate a hardship for the potential postdoctoral candidate. The "burden of evidence" lies with the program to demonstrate that the lack of funding does not adversely affect morale or quality of training. In addition, training resources should be sufficient to afford the same training for an unfunded or poorly funded position as for fully funded positions.
The payment of a stipend is a concrete acknowledgment that a trainee in the agency is valued and emphasizes that the primary task of the year is educational in nature. Stipends are generally lower than a salary received by a regular employee and implies that there is a significant training component in addition to experiential learning. Stipends are equal among trainees unless there is an extenuating circumstance (e.g., specialized skills, consortia agreements). This distinction between trainee and regular employee emphasizes that a postdoctoral fellowship is "an organized training program, in contrast to supervised experience or on-the-job training."
Frequently Asked Questions regarding APPIC's Stipend Requirement
Note: APPIC membership criteria are approved by a vote of the APPIC membership and appear above in bold type. Clarification information is approved by the APPIC Board of Directors.