To become a clinical psychologist, you need to have a Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.), which takes at least seven years of schooling. You’ll need to complete an internship and residency before qualifying for licensure as well.
Clinical psychologists need to be able to diagnose mental disorders, prescribe medications, perform psychotherapy, and understand both medical and psychiatric conditions.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Regardless of whether you’re pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, the first step (besides doing your research) is to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Keeping in mind that it can take many different paths, there are six universities—Boston University, the University of California-Berkeley, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, and Florida International University—that require a bachelor’s degree to apply for a doctoral program.
This is not the only way to obtain a bachelor’s degree, by the way. You could obtain a bachelor’s from one of the many other universities that require a general degree or from places like CareersInPsychology.org.
2. Earn a Master’s Degree
After you graduate from college, the typical path to becoming a clinical psychologist requires you to earn a master’s degree.
This degree program typically takes two years of schooling, but it may take longer depending on the program requirements. To enter a master’s-level program, you will need to have earned at least a B+ in your undergraduate studies.
3. Earn a Doctoral Degree
After you earn your master’s degree, you’ll need to earn a doctoral degree. The path to becoming a doctoral-level psychologist generally follows the same pathway as the master’s-level psychologist, which includes earning at least a B+ in your undergraduate studies. However, there are some differences, one of which is that you must get licensed as an expert witness before completing your dissertation.
4. Complete a Postgraduate Residency
After you earn your master’s degree, you’ll need to complete a postgraduate residency. The amount of time this takes varies by program and the specific requirements of the residency.
For instance, some programs require that you work at a specific university, hospital, or clinic for two years, whereas others only require nine months of training with at least 20 hours per week spent with patients.
After you’ve graduated, you can also take the opportunity to take medical courses and even earn your certification in PALS online.
5. Take and Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
After completing your residency, you will next need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) examination. You can find this exam through the American Board of Professional Psychology.
The exam is designed to test your knowledge of psychology and clinical practices. Most states require that you complete a state license examination, and for this reason, it’s important that you take your EPPP at least one month before passing your state exam.
6. Have a License to Practice
The final step in how to become a clinical psychologist is to have a license to practice as a clinical psychologist. This license allows you to do what you do as a psychologist officially.
The average time to complete the process varies from state to state and by individual psychology specialization. In general, however, it can take at least five years for an individual to earn this licensing.
The process of becoming a clinical psychologist can take a while, but it is well worth the time and effort. If you have a scientific mind and enjoy working with people, you might want to consider this career path. To get started on your new career, make sure that you meet all the state’s requirements for licensure at the state level.