Psychologist Licensure

Federal and state law requires all psychologists who offer direct patient care to be licensed by the state in which they work. Before becoming eligible for licensure, psychologists must hold a master's or doctorate degree from an accredited psychology program. Once they have earned their degree, they must then complete a one- to two-year residency program or internship, and pass a state competency examination.

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Different areas of specialization (clinical vs. educational, for instance) may have different requirements. It's your responsibility to know what these requirements are for your particular situation. It's also crucial that you find out what these requirements are for your state and specialty BEFORE you enroll in a program.

To find out what your state's licensing requirements are, contact your local psychology licensing board. They'll tell you exactly what you need to do to become licensed, and can also inform you of your state's laws and regulations concerning the practice of psychology. Information about licensing requirements is also available from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

Education Requirements

All clinical, counseling, and educational psychologists--regardless of state--must hold a doctorate degree in psychology (either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.). They must also undergo a hands-on internship or residency program, which usually lasts for one or two years.

School psychologist must hold a master's degree in psychology (or related field). It is becoming increasingly common for school psychologists to hold an Ed.S. (Education Specialist) post-master's degree.

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