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MCEP Questions & Answsers

Q.  What is "MCEP?"  
A. Mandatory Continuing Education for Psychologists.
It is the CE program for psychologists licensed in California. In addition to the information available at this page, you can also obtain answers from the Board of Psychology's CE page:
BOP or from the accrediting agency: CPA

Q.  What is the role of CPA and the accrediting agency?
CPA is the only agency that is authorized to keep track of your CE credits. If you take a CE course, it has to be reported to CPA. They are the only ones who can verify your educational record, and they will be submitting a report to the BOP after your license renewal date.  All of your credits must be reporterd to CPA, either by you or the course provider (keep reading).

Q. What courses qualify for credit?
A. There are three types of course you can use for credit:  MCEP,  APA or CME.

What is an MCEP course?

It is a course that is approved by CPA - the California Psychological Association.

If the course is approved by CPA, it will have a course approval number that looks like this: SAC004-0029-000 (this would be the 29th course offered by the Sacramento Valley Psychological Association, whose provider number is SAC004).

What is an APA course?

Any course that is offered by an APA approved sponsor qualifies for credit for California psychologists.  (This includes ABPP - American Board of Professional Psychology - workshops.)

What is a CME course?

CME stands for "continuing medical education."  For our purposes, a CME course is one that is accredited by the California Medical Association (CMA) or by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, (ACCME). ... ACCME courses only count if taken after January 1st, 2006.

If you take a CME course,
it must be "specifically applicable and pertinent to the practice of psychology."

How do you know if it is applicable and pertinent? You have to use your judgment and make that determination yourself. The regulatory intent is that you pursue education that enhances your skills or contributes to your fund of knowledge, in a way that ultimately serves the interests of consumers. You are the one who knows what is relevant and important.

Q.  Can I study at home?
   In each two year renewal cycle, you may use 18 hours of "distance learning" to fufill your 36 hour requirement. This includes home study and internet courses. The distance learning courses must still be approved by CPA, or they must be APA or CME courses.

Note: the Board of Behavioral Science allows MFTs and LCSWs to do all of their CE at home. Be certain you know that this does not apply to psychologists.

Note:  The 18 hour distance learning option went into effect on January 1st, 2005. A proposal is in the works to allow 27 hours of distance learning. This would mean that you would need only 9 hours of "live" contact coursework. This change is expected sometime in 2006 ... don't assume it has happened unless you confirm (check with me if need be). If you want see what's on the table, go here and read the second notice of modified text.

Q.  How are hours for MCEP or CPA approved courses recorded?
If you take a course that was approved by CPA (it will have an MCEP course number), the course provider is required to report your attendance to CPA within 45 days after the course is completed.  In other words, for CPA approved courses: the provider submits the report; you don't have to do anything. Increasingly, most of the courses you take will not automatically be reported ... most course providers are dropping their CPA accreditation in favor of APA approval. Even CPA is dropping CPA accreditation in favor of APA approval.

Q.  How are hours for APA and CME courses recorded?
If you take APA or CME courses, you have to report these credits to CPA to have them included in your educational record. Click here for a copy of the report form (to print from your browser or save the .pdf).

There is a $35.00 fee to process this form, but you can list all of the credit-eligible courses you have taken in any renewal cycle. In other words, send it in once, with all of your non-CPA approved courses listed.

Q.  Tell me again, which courses do I have to report?
If the courses is approved by CPA, you don't have to do anything. If the course does not have an MCEP approval number, you have to submit a report form to CPA.
Click here for a copy of the report form (print ready or save as .pdf).

Q.  Does the BOP audit our compliance with the CE mandate?
Yes.  A copy of your educational record will be sent to the BOP two months after your license renewal date. (The lag time allows for reports to be submitted by course providers.) When you renew, you will certify that you have met the requirements. The BOP will then check to insure compliance. They check on all renewals.

Q.  When do I need to get my MCEP hours? How many do I need?
You need to have all of your hours completed before the date of your license renewal, which is the last day of your birth month. Your renewal date is on your psychology license. Your birthdate is on your driver's license. Your license is good for two years after each renewal, so you have two full years to accumulate the necessary credits.

You may start gathering hours for the next renewal cycle on the first day of the month following your birthday (in the year in which you renew). If you are a new licensee, you can start taking courses immediately.

Every two years (i.e., during each license renewal cycle), you need 36 MCEP credits. Extra hours accumulated during any two year cycle cannot be carried forward for the next renewal period.

Q.  What if I 'm newly licensed and this will be my first renewal?
On your first renewal, you need to accrue 1.5 hours of credit for each month during which you held your license, prior to renewal. You have to count the month in which you received your license, and the month in which you are renewing, even if you held the license for only part of one of those months. Count the months and do the math.  If you have any questions, call the BOP's continuing education specialist at 916-263-4777.

Q.  Are there any required courses?
  Since January of 2000, every psychologist is required to take a 4 hour course in ethics and the law in each renewal cycle.  So every two years, you need to meet this requirement. The 4 hours can be included in the total number of credits required.

Read on about Spousal Abuse and Aging.

Q.  Do I have to take a course on Spousal Abuse?
  Yes you did, but no you don't.

It's done. This was a one time requirement.

The last people who needed to do it were those who renewed in December 2005.

Q.  Do I have to take a course on Aging?

When this law was passed, there was some confusion about the requirement. But the BOP has spoken, and you have to do it. The mandate went into effect in January 2005.

The course has to be at least 3 hours in length.

This is a one-time requirement. This requirement for license renewal will end with those who renew their licenses in December of 2006.

Q.  What do I have to do when it's time to renew my license?
When you renew, you will have to certify on your application that you have completed the required number of course hours. You will also have to certify that you have taken a 4 hour law and ethics course. If you renew before the end of 2006, you will have to certify that you took an Aging course. Sixty days after you renew, the BOP will receive a report from CPA, indicating whether or not you are in compliance with your hours. All license renewals are audited for compliance with the hour requirements.

Q.  Do I need to keep my own set of records and to save my attendance certificates?
A.  That would seem to be a real good idea.
When you send in your report form listing APA and CME courses, you have to send in a copy of the completion or attendance certificates!

Q.  What if I take a course that is still under MCEP review?
. Some advertisements will say that a course has been "submitted for approval" or that "approval is pending." In most cases (like 90% of the time), a course that has been submitted will be approved. And even if the course has not been given an approval number by the date on which it is offered, you can still receive credit when the review process is completed. The approval process takes about 30 days, and some applications are submitted "down to the wire." If you are "down to the wire" in accumulating your credits, consider the provider's reputation and their past history in offering courses. If they have been successful with previous course submissions, the odds are that they will be successful again. If you are concerned or uncertain, call CPA for advice.

Today, most of the courses you encounter will specify that they are APA or CME approved. The number of CPA approved courses is dwindling.

Q.  Isn't there a supervision course requirement?
  Not as part of MCEP.  The training, education and CE requirments for supervisors are entirely separate from the MCEP mandate.

If you need to know about supervision requirements, you are going to need to study the
laws and BOP regulations. For supervision, start here with the BOP's supervision at a glance page.

Q.  What about hospital rounds?
   Psychiatric grand rounds and agency in-service training programs are usually offered with CME credits. Make sure you check.

Q.  How do I find approved courses?
   If you are licensed as a psychologist in California, you probably need to look no further than your mail box. For information online, check the links to CE providers here at

Q.  What happens if I don't finish getting my hours?
   Bad things happen. This is what the BOP says:   "If you fail to complete the required hours of continuing education, your license will become invalid for renewal upon expiration. The continued practice of psychology is prohibited until the continuing education is completed and the license is restored to a valid status. If the deficiency is not made up within six months following the license expiration date, you will be subject to disciplinary action and/or citation and fine."

Q.  Are there any exemptions to the MCEP requirement?
   Yes. The following information is from the BOP:

"When applying for renewal, a psychologist may request a waiver from the continuing education requirements if, during the two-year period immediately prior to the expiration date of the license, he or she:

... has been residing in another country or state for at least one year, reasonably preventing completion of the continuing education requirements,

... or has been absent from California for at least one year because of military or missionary service reasonably preventing completion of the continuing education requirements,

... or has had a total physical and/or mental disability for at least one year, or has had total responsibility for at least one year for the care of an immediate family member with a total physical and/or mental disability.

Psychologists with inactive licenses do not need to comply with continuing education mandates until their licenses are reactivated. Additionally, psychologists requiring reasonable accommodations according to the Americans with Disabilities Act may be granted an exemption from the on-site participation requirement and may substitute all or part of their continuing education requirement with an APA-approved home study or self-managed education program. "

Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.
Box 255841
Sacramento, CA

Phone:  916-485-0285



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