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Licensing Requirements for Psychologists


    • In all states, a psychologist is required to hold a doctoral or an equivalent degree before being considered for licensure. Generally, the degree must be in psychology, but in some cases it can be in a closely related field. To receive a doctoral degree, a student must first complete an undergraduate course of study and receive a master's degree, which will generally take a total of five to six years. Receiving a doctoral degree will then typically take between three and six years, culminating in the writing of a dissertation.

    Professional Experience

    • After a student has received a doctoral degree, she must then intern with a fully licensed psychologist, generally for one to two years. During this period, the psychologist will perform many of the same tasks as the experienced psychologist, but she will be closely supervised and evaluated. This will allow the new psychologist to gain a better understanding of the profession. Some states also require that psychologists gain additional professional experience before applying for a license.


    • Most states require that a prospective licensee take and pass an exam before receiving his license. The format of this exam will vary depending on the state. While some states administer a simple multiple-choice exam, others include an essay section, while some include an oral portion in which the psychologist is required to answer questions posed to him by other psychologists. Once awarded a license, many states will require that the psychologist complete continuing education classes to maintain it.

    American Board of Professional Psychology Certification

    • In addition to licensure, many psychologists also seek out certification in a specific area from the American Board of Professional Psychology, a private professional organization. The board offers certificates in 13 different specialties, including psychoanalysis and rehabilitation. To receive a certificate, psychologists must have extensive experience in the field and pass a board-administered test. All candidates for certification must first receive a state license before applying.

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