APA Membership Paths
Accredited Programs vs Non-accredited Programs
Graduation from Accredited vs Non-Accredited Programs: For APA Membership Purposes, What is the Difference?
The bylaws of the American Polygraph Association state who is qualified for membership in the APA. Membership in the APA generally requires, among other things, graduation from an APA-accredited polygraph program. An alternative path to membership is authorized in the bylaws; however, the alternative path still requires graduation from a basic polygraph program that is at least as rigorous as an APA-accredited program, i.e., a program that "substantially meets the APA accreditation standards in place at the time of [the student's] graduation." (See section 3.1 of the bylaws.) APA-accredited programs are those programs that have already demonstrated having substantially met the accreditation standards, and therefore graduates of such programs do not need to prove such compliance themselves.
The alternate path to membership (for applicants who have not graduated from an APA-accredited program) requires those applicants to demonstrate that they graduated from programs that substantially met the APA's accreditation requirements in place at the time they graduated from their basic polygraph programs. In other words, the student--rather than the school/program--has the burden of demonstrating compliance with the standards. It is not an insurmountable task, but it requires substantial effort (as does the accreditation process). Thus, any student opting to attend a basic polygraph program that is not APA-accredited (and who desires membership in the APA) should be certain the school/program substantially meets the APA's accreditation standards and that the school's/program's faculty and staff are willing to provide the substantial documentary evidence necessary to demonstrate the school/program substantially meets the APA's accreditation standards.
Potential students considering the alternative path should also be thoroughly familiar with the APA's accreditation standards. Please note that he APA does not recognize, for basic polygraph education and training, on-line or distance learning for any portion of the required 400 hours of in-residence training. Moreover, the APA's accreditation standards require that faculty members have the appropriate academic and vocational credentials to teach their topics of instruction. For example, those teaching general polygraph topics must have at least a bachelor's degree (from an accredited institution) and substantial experience as polygraph examiners. If a school's/program's faculty does not meet the academic or vocational requirements of the APA's accreditation standards, then it would not be possible for a graduate of such a school/program to demonstrate graduation from a program that substantially met the APA's accreditation standards. Therefore, for those who desire APA membership, knowing the standards is important when making decisions about polygraph training and education options.