How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychologist?

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When considering a career in psychology, you may be asking yourself the question: How long does it take to become a psychologist?

The answer to this question really depends on 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 requires a master’s degree. If you want to enter a more specialized area like child psychology, you will need to earn a doctorate degree, which can require up to seven or more years of college.

Minimum Requirements to Become a Psychologist

Regardless of your career field or specialty, most psychology positions will require you at a minimum to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology or in a related field such as sociology or social work. A bachelor’s degree alone, however, is not typically sufficient to qualify for the most desirable careers in psychology, and 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 minimum requirement for most entry-level clinical or professional psychology positions is a Master’s degree. There are, however, an increasing number of employers looking for candidates with a doctorate degree.

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 doctoral programs require candidates to first obtain a master’s degree in psychology, there are some who will accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Before you enroll in any psychology degree program, figure out whether you need to earn a doctorate degree in psychology and where you would like to study.

How to Become a Psychologist Faster

Several psychology programs offered by accredited universities allow you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology simultaneously to prepare you for entry into a doctorate program. These accelerated programs can enable you to shorten the time needed to complete the education requirements and become a licensed practicing psychologist.

Additional Schooling Needed to Become a 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.

How Long it Takes to to Become a Psychologist By Field of Study

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.

Resources on Psychology Education Requirements

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.

So, You Want to Become a Psychologist?

As you can see, how long it takes to become a psychologist largely depends on the specific type of psychology career you want to be in. Psychology is an industry where education, knowledge, and expertise are highly valued. Job opportunities and pay are typically greater for psychologists who have obtained advanced training and education, and in certain areas salaries can top $200,000 annually.

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