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.
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 four to seven 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.
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, whereby 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.
In addition to extensive psychologist schooling, a few psychology specialties, such as licensed clinical psychology, also require students to fulfill a one to two 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.
The following are the 11 most popular psychology careers and the minimum educational requirements in these fields.
- Clinical Psychologist: Doctorate Degree in Psychology (4 to 7 years of graduate school)
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school)
- Forensic Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school); a doctoral degree is recommended.
- Social Worker: Bachelor’s Degree (4 to 5 years of undergraduate school)
- Licensed Counselor: Master’s Degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school)
- Health Psychologist: Doctorate Degree (4 to 5 years of graduate school)
- Sports Psychologist: Master’s Degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school)
- School Psychologist: Master’s degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school)
- Social Psychologist: Doctoral Degree (5 to 7 years of graduate school)
- Child Psychologist: Doctoral degree (5 to 7 years of graduate school)
- Criminal Psychologist: Master’s degree (2 to 3 years of graduate school); a doctoral degree is recommended.
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.
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.
Featured Psychology Programs
|Grand Canyon University (GCU) With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments. Learn More >|
|Northcentral University Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences. Learn More >|
|University of the Rockies University of the Rockies provides high-quality, accessible learning opportunities globally for diverse groups of individuals seeking preparation for life goals, professional practice, service, and distinguished leadership. Learn More >|
|The Chicago School of Professional Psychology The Chicago School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psycholog which has recognized The Chicago School for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. Learn More >|