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RULES AND REGULATIONS

STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGY

[49 PA. CODE CH. 41]

Education Requirements

[36 Pa.B. 2680]
[Saturday, June 3, 2006]

   The State Board of Psychology (Board) amends §§ 41.1 and 41.31 (relating to definitions; and qualifications for taking licensure examination) to read as set forth in Annex A.

Statutory Authority

   The final-form rulemaking is made under the authority of sections 3.2(1) and 6(a)(2) of the Professional Psychologists Practice Act (act) (63 P. S. §§ 1203.2(1) and 1206(a)(2)).

Response to Public Comments and Regulatory Review

   The proposed rulemaking was published at 34 Pa.B. 4903 (September 4, 2004). Publication was followed by a 30-day public comment period during which the Board received comments from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA), the Vice President of Academic Affairs of Chestnut Hill College and, upon request from the House Professional Licensure Committee (HPLC), Judy Hall, the Executive Director of the Council for the National Register of Health Service Providers (National Register). Following the close of the public comment period, the Board received comments from the HPLC and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). The Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee (SCP/PLC) did not comment.

   The following part provides an analysis of the Board's response to those comments.

General comments

   In both the definition of ''doctoral degree in a field related to psychology'' and ''doctoral degree in psychology,'' the Board referred to designation by the Joint Designation Committee of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The HPLC noted that the current name is the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project (ASPPB/National Register). In this final-form rulemaking, the Board has changed the name. Also, for ease of reference, the Board has added definitions for ''APA,'' ''ASPPB,'' ''CPA'' and ''National Register.''

   IRRC questioned whether the Board's accreditation requirement would negatively affect the development of new programs. The PPA commented that new programs would be stifled as a result of the final-form rulemaking. The Board acknowledges that this final-form rulemaking imposes additional requirements on nonaccredited/designated programs. However, the Board believes that this final-form rulemaking is necessary for two reasons. First, it provides a bright-line standard for applicants for licensure--if an individual graduate from a program that is or becomes accredited or designated within 1 year of when the degree is awarded, the individual has satisfied the educational requirements for licensure. The Board has learned through applications and testimony provided by applicants from nonaccredited/designated programs that many erroneously believed that they too would not have any impediments to licensure. By removing this pathway, the Board has eliminated this uncertainty for applicants who have spent thousands of dollars to obtain their degree.

   Second, this final-form rulemaking sets minimum standards for graduate degree programs in psychology. When the rulemaking was initially promulgated, many programs in this Commonwealth were neither accredited nor designated. Therefore, there was a need for the third pathway. Given the number of programs currently accredited and designated, this stopgap measure is no longer necessary. A list of APA accredited programs in this Commonwealth is available at www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/doctoral.html. A list of ASPPB/National Register designated programs in this Commonwealth is available at www.nationalregister.org/designate_PA.htm.

   Despite the additional requirements on nonaccredited/designated programs, the Board does not believe that the development of new programs will be negatively affected. By accepting designation in addition to accreditation, the Board has, in many instances, reduced the timeframe for acceptance. Unlike the APA/Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) accreditation process, which requires a site visit and, as a prerequisite, a graduation class to apply, the ASPPB/National Register designation process is a paper review that permits application each spring once a program has been fully developed (including standards for enrollees and the selection of instructors and curriculum). Additionally, unlike the APA and the CPA that limit accreditation to the specific specialties of clinical psychology, school psychology, counseling psychology and combined professional-scientific psychology, the ASPPB/National Register designate additional specialties in psychology. Once a designated program has graduated a class and met the other accreditation requirements, it can obtain APA/CPA accreditation. APA/CPA accredited programs receive automatic designation by the ASPPB/National Register.

   The HPLC questioned whether the Board has communicated its new education requirements to doctoral degree programs that do not meet the new requirements. Prior to publication of the proposed rulemaking, the Board solicited predraft input from stakeholders, including doctoral degree programs that currently do not meet the new requirements. In addition, after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the Board will post the new requirements on its website. This additional notice should alert programs and applicants that the new educational requirements will apply to all students who enroll 2 years from the publication date of this proposed rulemaking.

§ 41.1.  Definitions.

   Subparagraph (iii) of the definitions of ''doctoral degree in a field related to psychology'' and ''doctoral degree in psychology'' set out the standards for a doctoral degree from foreign colleges or universities. The Executive Officer of the National Register suggested that the Board incorporate the designation criteria required by the ASPPB/National Register by reference rather than insert a partial list of the requirements if the Board intends to accept the ASPPB/National Register criteria. Because it is the Board's intent to impose the same requirements on all doctoral degree programs regardless of the country where the program is being offered, the Board has amended the definitions to require that foreign degree programs satisfy standards equivalent to the ASPPB/National Register standards. These doctoral degree standards are available at www.nationalregister.org/doctoraldegrees.html.

   The Board has removed provisions in subparagraph (iii) dealing with foreign accrediting bodies, individual differences in behavior courses, dissertations and appropriate standard for practicum and internship, which were the subject of inquiry by the HPLC, IRRC and the PPA. The Board will not address these comments. Like provisions in many other jurisdictions, these provisions require compliance with the ASPPB/National Register criteria rather than Board-developed requirements.

   The Executive Officer of the National Register also suggested that the Board clarify that the doctoral degree standards must be met at the time of graduation and not some later date when the program obtains accreditation or designation. The proposed rulemaking imposed an ''at graduation'' standard. However, upon further consideration, the Board determined that that timeframe was too narrow.

   During the Board's September 13, 2005, meeting, the Board contacted the Director of Accreditation at the APA and the Executive Officer of the National Register. Regarding APA/CPA accreditation, the Board learned that the accreditation date is not the date when the decision is made to award accreditation, but rather the date when the site visit was conducted, often months earlier. The Board also learned that accreditation reviews and awards occur year round.

   Regarding ASPPB/National Register designation, the Board learned: (1) the designation date is the date that the decision is made; (2) designation reviews and awards occur one time a year; (3) applications are accepted until February 1; (4) the Designation Committee reviews those applications from April 1 through early summer and, when there are no deficiencies, awards designation; (5) where there are easily curable deficiencies, the Designation Committee permits programs to cure the deficiencies within several months, and, when applicable, awards designation; and (6) many state psychology boards accept after the fact designation for a set period of time.

   When these time frames were considered in light of the customary award of doctoral degrees in December and May, the Board determined that the ''at graduation'' date originally proposed would severely disadvantage recent graduates of newly accredited/designated programs. The Board believes that to include those graduates and, at the same time, achieve the Board's goal of assuring minimum standards for education, the Board should allow a 1-year time frame. This additional 1 year will also be advantageous for newly emerging programs as it will provide them with additional time to obtain accreditation or designation. Therefore, the Board has amended this provision in this final-form rulemaking to clarify that the program must be either accredited or designated within 1 year of the applicant's award of the doctoral degree.

§ 41.31.  Qualifications for taking licensing examination.

   Proposed § 41.31(b)(1) required the clinical training director to submit a Verification of Doctoral Program Approval Status. The Executive Director of the National Register suggested that the Board remove the reference to ''clinical'' as programs are designated in clinical, counseling and school psychology. The Board found this suggestion reasonable and amended this provision by replacing ''clinical training director'' with ''program director.''

   Proposed § 41.31(b)(2) required that the foreign credential evaluator be acceptable to the Board. IRRC questioned what criteria the Board was going to apply to make this determination. The Board has learned from the National Register that it reviews foreign education to determine equivalency with education deemed acceptable to the ASPPB/National Register. The equivalency standards are available at www.nationalregister.org/foreigndegrees.htm. The Maryland Board of Examiners in Psychology is currently using this method. Because the National Register's review is psychology-specific, as opposed to that of the Department of Education approved foreign credential evaluators who review doctoral programs generally, the Board amended this section. The final-form section specifies that the National Register will make the initial equivalency determination and then the Board will assess the applicant's compliance.

   Section 41.31(b)(3) addresses an applicant from a foreign college or university's ability to cure a deficiency in subsection (b)(2). In the proposed rulemaking, the Board required the applicant to complete an APA/CPA/ASPPB respecialization program. The Executive Director for the National Register commented that specialization programs are typically 2-year programs, one of which is an internship and that some applicants may not require that extensive of a sequence of education and training. In its place, it was recommended that the Board permit the accredited/designated doctoral program to evaluate the deficiency, require supplemental education or experience, or both, and following completion of the deficiency certify that the supplemental education/experience makes the applicant equivalent to a graduate of the program. The Board found this recommendation reasonable and has amended this section accordingly.

   Several comments were raised about § 41.31(b)(4) in connection with the effective date of the final-form rulemaking. The HPLC and IRRC asked the Board to clarify this date in the final-form rulemaking. The PPA questioned how the effective date would be applied to applicants who have obtained a degree but have not yet applied for a license. Additionally, the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Chestnut Hill College suggested that the Board grandfather programs that are in the process of attaining APA accreditation when the final-form rulemaking is published. He also recommended that the Board provide a 5-year to 7-year window for emerging programs to obtain accreditation.

   The Board has revised the subsection as follows. Applicants for licensure who were enrolled in a doctoral degree program in psychology before, at the time of, or up to 2 years after publication of this final-form rulemaking will have their education evaluated under the regulations in effect at the time of enrollment. Applicants who enroll on or after the effective date of this final-form rulemaking will have their education evaluated under these new requirements. Enrollment, as has been interpreted by the Board, is the date when the applicant has been accepted into the doctoral degree program and is registered for courses. This standard was applied by the Board when it grandfathered masters degree holders under former section 20 of the act (63 P. S. § 1220).

   In the proposed rulemaking, the Board established the effective date as 2 years after publication of the final-form rulemaking. However, upon consideration of the designation time frame previously mentioned, the Board determined that the effective date should be extended until on or after July 1, 2 years following final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The Executive Director of the National Register advised that designation awards are only made in the late spring and early summer. Extending this date provides nonaccredited/designated programs with two full opportunities to avail themselves of the designation process prior to the effective date of the final-form rulemaking.

   Because APA awards accreditation to programs on the date of the site visit, the Board declined to implement the recommendation that programs in the process of APA accreditation be automatically grandfathered. The Board believes that as written the regulation provides nonaccredited/designated programs at least 3 years to comply with the new requirements--2 years for the regulations to become effective plus 1 year after graduation. Based on the Board's understanding of APA and National Register processes, the Board believes that doctoral degree programs will be able to comply with the Board's requirements.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

   The final-form rulemaking has no fiscal impact on the Commonwealth. Board members would no longer be required to review transcripts, courses, residencies and internships for applicants who attended non-APA and non-ASPPB/National Register programs in the United States, Canada and territories, and Board staff would simply confirm that the doctoral degree program was accredited by the APA or the CPA or designated by the ASPPB/National Register within 1 year of graduation. However, there were no costs associated with Board member review as that review was conducted following monthly Board meetings. Therefore, the change should not result in any discernible fiscal impact on the Board orthe Commonwealth. The Board would continue to conduct its review for applicants with doctoral degrees from foreign colleges and universities.

   The final-form rulemaking decreases paperwork requirements for applicants from programs in the United States, Canada and United States territories. These applicants would be required to submit only a Verification of Doctoral Program Approval Status completed by the program's director reflecting accreditation by the APA or the CPA or designation by the ASPPB/National Register and an official transcript from the registrar. Applicants from foreign colleges and universities would continue to submit an evaluation from the ASPPB/National Register to the Board evidencing compliance with the educational requirements for degree holders from foreign colleges or universities in § 41.1.

Sunset Date

   The Board continually monitors the effectiveness of its regulations through communication with the regulated population. Therefore, no sunset date has been set.

Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on August 23, 2004, the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 34 Pa.B. 4903, to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the HPLC and the SCP/PLC for review and comment.

   Under section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC, the HPLC and the SCP/PLC were provided with copies of the comments received during the public comment period, as well as other documents when requested. In preparing the final-form rulemaking, the Department has considered all comments from IRRC, the HPLC and the SCP/PLC and the public.

   Under section 5.1(j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(j.2)), on March 14, 2006, the final-form rulemaking was approved by the HPLC. On April 18, 2006, the final-form rulemaking was deemed approved by SCP/PLC. Under section 5.1(e) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC met on April 19, 2006, and approved the final-form rulemaking.

Contact Person

   Further information can be obtained by contacting Christina Stuckey, Administrative Assistant, State Board of Psychology, P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649, www.state.pa.us/bpoa.

Findings

   The Commission finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of proposed rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  A public comment period was provided as required by law and all comments were considered.

   (3)  This final-form rulemaking does not enlarge the purpose of proposed rulemaking published at 34 Pa.B. 4903.

   (4)  The final-form rulemaking is necessary and appropriate for administering and enforcing the act.

Order

   The Board, acting under its authorizing statute, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Board, 49 Pa. Code Chapter 41, are amended by amending §§ 41.1 and 41.3 to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the existing text of the regulations.

   (b)  The Board shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General as required by law.

   (c)  The Board shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect on publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

ALEX M. SIEGEL, J.D., Ph.D.,   
Chairperson

   (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, relating to this document, see 36 Pa.B. 2251 (May 6, 2006).)

   Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 16A-6313 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A

TITLE 49.  PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS

PART I.  DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Subpart A.  PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS

CHAPTER 41.  STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGY GENERAL

§ 41.1  Definitions.

   The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   APA--American Psychological Association.

   ASPPB--Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

*      *      *      *      *

   CPA--Canadian Psychological Association.

*      *      *      *      *

   Doctoral degree in a field related to psychology--A degree awarded upon successful completion of a program which, within 1 year from the award of the doctoral degree, meets one of the following:

   (i)  Is accredited by the APA or the CPA.

   (ii)  Is designated by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project.

   (iii)  Is offered by a foreign college or university whose standards are equivalent to the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project criteria.

   Doctoral degree in psychology--A degree awarded upon successful completion of a program in psychology which, within 1 year from the award of the doctoral degree, meets one of the following criteria:

   (i)  Is accredited by the APA or the CPA.

   (ii)  Is designated by the ASPPB/ National Register Designation Project.

   (iii)  Is offered by a foreign college or university whose standards are equivalent to the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project Criteria.

*      *      *      *      *

   National Register--The Council for the National Register of Health Service Providers.

*      *      *      *      *

§ 41.31.  Qualifications for taking licensing examination.

*      *      *      *      *

   (b)  Education. Before an applicant seeking licensure under section 6 of the act (63 P. S. § 1206) shall be permitted to take the licensing examination, the Board must be satisfied that the applicant has complied with the requirements for a doctoral degree in psychology or a field related to psychology as defined in § 41.1 (relating to definitions). The following documentation evidences compliance:

   (1)  For degree holders from a program in the United States, Canada or United States territories, a Verification of Doctoral Program Approval Status completed by the program's director reflecting accreditation by the CPA or designation by the ASPPB/National Register Designation Project within 1 year from the award of the doctoral degree, and an official transcript from the registrar.

   (2)  For degree holders from a foreign college or university, an evaluation completed by the National Register evidencing compliance with the educational requirements for degree holders from foreign colleges or universities in § 41.1 (relating to definitions). The Board will make a determination regarding the applicant's compliance based upon the evaluation.

   (3)  An applicant who does not meet the criteria in paragraph (2) shall complete supplemental education or training, or both, from a program accredited by the APA or the CPA or designated by ASPPB/National Register Designation Project based upon an evaluation of the deficiency by the program. The program director shall certify that the supplemental coursework or experience, or both, makes the applicant equivalent to a graduate of that program.

   (4)  First-time applicants who enroll in a graduate degree program in psychology on or after July 1, 2008, will be evaluated under this chapter. Applicants enrolled prior to July 1, 2008, will be evaluated under regulations in effect at the time of enrollment. Reapplicants under subsection (a)(1) or § 41.42(b) (relating to reexamination) will be evaluated under regulations in effect at the time of reapplication.

*      *      *      *      *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 06-977. Filed for public inspection June 2, 2006, 9:00 a.m.]



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