How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychologist?

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When considering a career in psychology, many students wonder how long it will actually take them to become a practicing psychologist. The answer really depends on the profession as well as the specialty you want to work in. For example, becoming a school psychologist can take a little as two years of graduate-level education, and only requires a master’s degree. On the other hand, if you want to become a child psychologist you will need to earn a doctorate degree, which can require up to seven additional years of psychologist schooling.

Required Degrees and Experience

Regardless of your career field or specialty, most psychology positions will require you to earn an undergraduate, four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field such as sociology, or social work. In addition, a bachelor’s degree, in and of itself, is not typically sufficient to qualify for most desirable careers in psychology.

Most students who major in psychology and then immediately enter the workforce upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree end up working in a non-psychology field. The requirement for most entry-level clinical or professional psychology positions is a master’s degree, and even then, most employers are looking for candidates who hold a doctorate.

A doctorate degree in psychology typically requires 4-7 years of graduate-level education following the completion of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology. While some doctorate programs require candidates to first obtain a master’s degree in psychology others will accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree.

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Find out how much different psychologists make. View psychologists salaries by career field.

Accelerated Psychology Programs

Before you enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, you may want to figure out if you’re going to earn a doctorate degree in psychology, and if so where. There are several psychology programs offered by accredited universities that will allow you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology simultaneously, thereby preparing you for entry into a doctorate program. These accelerated programs can enable you to shorten the overall amount of time it takes to complete the education requirements to become a licensed practicing psychologist.

Supervised Residency Programs

In addition to extensive psychologist schooling, a few psychology specialties, such as licensed clinical psychology, also require students to fulfill a 1-2 year supervised residency program before they can qualify for state licensing. To determine how long it will take you to become a psychologist, look into the specifics of the career you are interested in. As requirements vary by state, you’ll want to research your state’s licensing requirements before applying to any graduate program.

11 Most Popular Psychology Careers and Their Education Requirements

  1. Clinical Psychologist: Doctorate Degree in Psychology (4-7 years of graduate school)
  2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2-3 years of graduate school)
  3. Forensic Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2-3 years of graduate school); a doctoral degree is recommended.
  4. Social Worker: Bachelor’s Degree (4-5 years of undergraduate school)
  5. Licensed Counselor: Master’s Degree (2-3 years of graduate school)
  6. Health Psychologist: Doctorate Degree (4-5 years of graduate school)
  7. Sports Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2-3 years of graduate school)
  8. School Psychologist: Master’s degree (2-3 years of graduate school)
  9. Social Psychologist: Doctoral Degree (5-7 years of graduate school)
  10. Child Psychologist: Doctoral degree (5-7 years of graduate school)
  11. Criminal Psychologist: Master’s degree (2-3 years of graduate school); a doctoral degree is recommended.

Psychology, in general, is an industry where education, knowledge, and expertise are highly valued. Job opportunities and pay are typically greater for those psychologists who have obtained advanced training and education.

Learn more about what it takes to become a psychologist and understand the education requirements. Read the Online Psychology Degrees Guide or search by degree level below.

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