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How Many Years Of School To Become A Psychologist

In order to become a licensed clinical psychologist, you need an undergraduate degree (4 to 5 years of college) plus a doctorate degree in psychology (4 to 7 years of graduate school). For this specialty area, most people will spend between 8 to 12 years in a higher education setting.

Bachelor’s degree: Psychology (or related discipline) – 4 years

Master’s degree: Psychology (or related discipline) – 3 years

  • If you stop here, you can become a LPC or a Psych Assistant (psychologist-lite)
  • You’ll need about two years of supervised practice to actually get fully-licensed AFTER you complete your degree work.
  • You’ll need to pass a comprehensive licensing exam, and probably an ethics exam.
  • Total years to get to this point: About 7-9 years total (to licensure).

Doctoral degree: Psychology (preferably clinical psychology) – 4 years

  • If you stop here, you can become an LPC or a Psychologist or BOTH
  • You’ll need about two to three years of supervised practice to actually get fully-licensed AFTER you complete your
    degree work.
  • You’ll need to pass a comprehensive licensing exam, and probably an ethics exam.
  • Total years to get to this point: About 12-14 years total (to licensure).

(NOTE: Some states require your degrees to be accredited by the American Psychological Association or a similar body. Please check up on the regulations in your own state to find out specifically what you need).

Psychology Careers and Minimum Degree Options

Please note that these requirements represent the minimum educational requirements in these fields. Job opportunities and pay are generally greater with advanced training.

  • 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)
  • School Psychologist: Varies by state (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.


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