One aspect of graduate school that confused the hell out of me at first was the issue of accreditation. It was a word that I vaguely knew to indicate a certain program had gotten a stamp of approval--from who, I had no idea, but I could be fairly certain it wasn't just a degree mill.
However, as I researched graduate marriage and family therapy programs in California, I became aware that some programs touted their accreditation as a selling point, while others didn't really mention it. Once I started to look into it, I realized accreditation matters a great deal--sometimes. I'm talking here about accreditation as it pertains to MFT programs, but I imagine the situation is similar for other mental health professions.
The biggest issue contingent on accreditation is licensure. In general, only graduates from MFT programs with state-approved accreditation status can apply for licensure. In California, there are a few different accreditation statuses that qualify a program (COAMFTE, CACREP, WASC, etc). In other states, however, one MUST have graduated from a COAMFTE-accredited program in order to qualify for licensure. Therefore, accreditation becomes really important depending on where you hope to ultimately hold a license.
So it's wise have a pretty good idea of where you want to ultimately practice when you're selecting a graduate program, and look into that state's licensing requirements. You probably can't go wrong with a COAMFTE-accredited program, for example, but if you are currently in California--where COAMFTE accreditation isn't such a huge deal--and you think maybe you'd like to practice in another state one day, you may want to think twice about attending a school like Pepperdine (which is accredited by WASC).
For more information on accreditation of California MFT programs, check out my breakdown by accrediting body on MFT California.