Easiest State/Territory to Become a Licensed Psychologist

Discussion in 'Nursing and medical-related degrees' started by sanantone, Oct 14, 2021.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    When graduates of doctoral programs are aiming to work for the federal government as psychologists, they normally seek licensure in a state that does not require post-doctoral internship hours so they can get to work right away. The federal government doesn't care which state or territory you're licensed in; you just need to be licensed somewhere in the U.S. Typically, these job seekers were in a traditional clinical or counseling psychology program that required 1,000 to 1,500 internship hours before graduation.

    But, I decided to look at this from a different angle for online students. They might want to earn a PhD or PsyD 100% online and complete all of their training after conferral of the degree. This limits states/territories one can become licensed in because almost all of them require a pre-doctoral internship or pre-doctoral practicum of a certain number of hours. Or, they might require certain courses that must be taken within the doctoral program that might not be offered in some online programs. It seems like a simple task to just get the courses from an online master's program, but states tend to limit what they call supplementation. For example, one state only allows 6 credit hours to come from outside of the doctoral program. A handful a states require a period of time in residence, which means that you must have spent a certain amount of time on campus.

    Here is the state and territory I recommend.

    1. West Virginia. They don't have a list of required courses; they don't require that the program be designed for licensure; they don't require a certain specialty (many states only recognize school, clinical, counseling, health services, and I/O psychology); or a pre-doctoral, supervised experience. All of the required internship hours can be completed after earning the degree. You'll be issued a Gold Card showing that you are a board-approved, supervised psychologist, which you can use while completing the internship hours.

    2. Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico offers its licensure exam in English and Spanish. You can also take the EPPP, which is a national exam, but you'd also need to take the jurisprudence exam in Puerto Rico. They don't require any supervision hours; that means no practicum, field experience, lab hours, internship, or supervised work experience. They will license someone with a master's degree in any field of psychology. The biggest hurdle is that Puerto Rico requires licensees to be bonafide residents of Puerto Rico. I couldn't find specific information on this from the Board of Examiners of Psychologists, but from what's required for another license, I'm guessing that six months of physically living in Puerto Rico is required.

    Honorable Mention: Wisconsin. They require that certain courses be included in the doctoral program and a pre-doctoral experience; however, the pre-doctoral experience can be a practicum, field experience, internship, or laboratory work. They don't specify a minimum number of hours.
  2. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Clarification: WV requires the degree to be a clinical form of psychology (not sure what that means because I'm sure they'll accept counseling psychology), and the program must be housed in a department or school within a university that has "psychology" in its name. WV also licenses at the master's level, but more post-conferral internship hours are required.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The guide states that WV requires a clinical form of psychology, but it's not stated in the law. The law gives a list of graduate courses that need to be completed. If you're applying to become licensed at the master's level, half of the non-thesis and non-practicum credits must be completed on campus.

    Series 3 Requirements - 2018.pdf (wv.gov)
  4. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Say you live in a very strict state like New York. What is the solution for someone who doesn't live, can't live, or doesn't want to live in the places you mentioned?
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    If you don't plan on working for the federal government right after graduation, then I would recommend a traditional PhD or PsyD program. A federal government employee can be licensed in West Virginia and located in Utah. That's why job seekers don't care where they're licensed. After getting some experience as a licensed psychologist, it will be easier to get licensed elsewhere if one wants to leave the federal government.
    LearningAddict likes this.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It is worth noting, too, that New York State (the actual state) employs "Associate Psychologists" in the Department of Mental Health. You need a doctorate. You do not need a license. You work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. If you get a license later you are eligible for promotion. It is not a bad gig. The last time I looked up the salary of a specific Associate Psychologist they were somewhere just north of $85k (upstate, downstate probably pays more). You need to have a doctorate in psychology. Not counseling or closely related fields. Psychology. It is a permanent job class. So you could spend an entire career as an "associate psychologist" practicing psychology in a therapeutic setting all day, every day without ever having a license.

    New York also employs School Psychologists. It's a separate license class from "Licensed Psychologist" and obviously has a limited scope of practice which does not allow you to open a private practice. It's a Masters program and is licensed through the Department of Education in a manner similar to how teachers and Guidance Counselors are licensed.

    New York also has other classes of mental health practitioners such as Creative Arts Therapists, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Each requires the specific Masters associated with that field and has its own requirements. The University of Buffalo offers a CACREP accredited Advanced Diploma for people with non-licensure qualifying Masters degrees in Counseling to become LMHCs. It's no slouch of a program coming in at (I think?) 30ish credits but it is meant to remedy any deficiency in your Masters to allow you to become an LMHC.

    Or you can cross the border into Vermont where they have a scheme like Colorado whereby unlicensed individuals can register with the state to offer psychotherapy as long as they disclose the fact that they are unlicensed to patients.

    Either way, New York has a lot of administrative red tape. It isn't really the easiest state to become anything. However, there are plenty of state registered programs and alternative pathways for a variety of career interests for anyone willing to spend entirely too much time going through the websites.
    newsongs and LearningAddict like this.
  7. PositiveSoul

    PositiveSoul New Member


    Thank you very much for another useful post.

    With reference to my post, I have started my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from California Southern University and have completed 12 credits so since October.

    Given I live in California, your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.
    newsongs likes this.
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Congrats! California Southern University's program is aligned with California's licensing requirements. I think you just need to make sure you complete the optional internship.
    PositiveSoul likes this.

Share This Page