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What degree do I need to be a psychologist?

People are undoubtedly complex creatures: The way humans interact with the world around them involves a number of different ideas and sentiments. Psychologists seek to understand the thoughts, feelings and emotions that can influence human behavior and interactions. This means psychology can be a very complex field, and its takes a strong educational background to develop and interpret theories around actions, thoughts and feelings.

There are a wide range of psychologists practicing today: Clinical psychologists, organizational psychologists, counseling psychologists, school psychologists and forensic psychologists are all sought after professionals. While each specialty requires its own specific training, there are a few commonalities in the education required for each field. According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all psychologists need to do at least six years in school, as it takes at least a master's degree to enter the field. Some psychologists choose to earn advanced specialty degrees while others go on to earn doctoral degrees. Most clinical, counseling and research psychologists go for the latter option, according to the BLS, and choose to earn a Ph.D. degree in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. While both Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs will likely involve an internship, a Psy.D. is considered a clinical degree and will likely include more applied training instead of a dissertation. Most states require psychologists to be licensed or certified, especially if they want to practice independently. Though rules vary by state, the BLS suggests that it usually takes a few years of practicing experience and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology to practice independently.


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