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Psychology Licensing Exams

To practice as a psychologist, you'll need to pass one or more psychology licensing exams, likely including the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Learn how to become a licensed psychologist, what to expect from the test, whether you will need to take additional tests and how to prepare.

What You Need to Know

In order to become a licensed psychologist, you must first pass a standardized test--often the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)--which can be prepared for by completing an accredited doctoral program. However, be sure to check your state requirements. Different states have different approaches to licensing procedures and examinations.

Degree Options Ph.D. in psychology or Psy.D.
Training Pre-doctoral or post-doctoral supervised experience, internship, residency program
Licensing Passage of a standardized exam required by the particular state

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Become Licensed as a Psychologist?

Each state has its own requirements for licensing, but common requirements include a doctoral degree in psychology, a set amount of supervised clinical experience and passage of a standardized exam, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Nearly every state uses the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

What Can I Expect from the EPPP?

This multiple-choice exam consists of 225 questions that cover ethical and legal issues, research methods, bases of behavior and treatment. Of the questions, 50 are experimental and will not count toward your score. You'll have four hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. Test takers will not know which questions are experimental, so will need to answer all questions as if they count the same.

Will I Need to Take Additional Exams?

In some states, you'll need to pass one or more examinations in addition to the EPPP to qualify for licensure. For example, in Texas, candidates for full psychologist licensure must take the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (TSBEP) jurisprudence exam and an oral exam (www.tsbep.state.tx.us). The former covers research, supervision and teaching guidelines, disciplinary processes and general rules of professional practice, while the latter requires you to apply your skills to a scenario that could be encountered in everyday psychology practice. The oral exam also covers TSBEP-specific rules as well as ethics and state laws.

How Can I Prepare for these Exams?

Completing a doctoral degree program in psychology should prepare you for the EPPP as well as any state-level exams. Your program should be accredited by the American Psychological Association. You can expect to take courses in:

  • Group, family and play therapy
  • Counseling techniques and theory
  • Behavior assessment

Your program also should include hands-on clinical experience, which might count toward the experience necessary for licensure. In addition, you'll have to complete a dissertation.