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Psychologist License Requirements in Alabama

Alabama's psychologists are licensed by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology (http://www.psychology.state.al.us). A candidate must pursue doctoral-level education and achieve passing scores on both a national board examination and a state jurisprudence examination. Most psychological specializations require a postdoctoral internship.

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Psychologist Education Requirements

A candidate must earn a doctoral degree from a psychology school or department that holds acceptable accreditation. Generally this means full or provisional accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA). Other U.S. psychology programs may be acceptable if they are housed in regionally accredited institutions and meet an extensive set of requirements set by the Alabama Board. (Canadian programs should be housed in schools that are in good standing with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.)

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including both clinical and non-clinical specializations. Capella University, also offers four online CACREP - accredited master's programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, MS in School Counseling and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

The New York University Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology offers a Master of Arts in School Counseling (Counseling and Guidance: School and Bilingual School Counseling). This program is accredited by the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Click Here to contact NYU Steinhardt about this Master's program that offers students professional preparation as well as studies foundational to further graduate work.

Click Here to learn more about psychology education options based on your current educational attainment.

Standards for Non-APA Programs

The psychology department must be a recognizable entity with a matriculated body of students and a full-time faculty. A psychologist must be responsible for the curriculum.

The candidate must do at least three academic years of graduate study (with at least one year 'in residency' at the institution granting the doctoral degree).

A minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate credit is required; internship is not included in the total. The student may transfer credit from a master's program at the discretion of his or her doctoral program. However, if the same school did not grant both degrees, a majority of coursework should be at the doctoral level.

The student must have at least 24 semester hours of coursework in core areas prescribed by the Board.

The core must include three semester hours, or the equivalent, in each of the following:

  • Biological basis of behavior
  • Social basis of behavior
  • Cognitive-affective basis of behavior
  • Individual behavior

The following core courses are also required:

  • Research methods and experiment design
  • Statistics
  • Theory of psychological measurement
  • History and systems of the psychology discipline

The candidate may have a discrete course in professional standards and ethics or otherwise demonstrate that this standard received sufficient coverage.

The Board notes that coursework that is too narrow in scope may be disallowed. A candidate who has a doctoral degree but minor deficiencies (up to six semester hours) may be allowed to make up the deficits by enrolling in additional classes. Board permission is required.

Educational Requirements for Psychology Specializations

Alabama recognizes four branches of specialization: counseling psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, and industrial/ organizational psychology. These are based on academic programs and corresponding internships. Candidates who complete APA-accredited programs in the desired specialization at the doctoral and post-doctoral level will be assumed to meet requirements. Candidates whose training varies from the norm will need to produce more documentation to show that they merit the designation.

A counseling psychology student should have at least 27 semester hours in the following areas:

  • Aptitude/ability or personality assessment
  • Vocational assessment
  • Abnormal behavior or human adjustment
  • Counseling/ psychotherapy theory
  • Counseling psychology electives
  • Assessment practicum
  • Intervention practicum

A clinical psychology student should have 27 semester hours in the following:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Personality assessment
  • Intellectual assessment
  • Theory of mental disorder treatment and intervention
  • Advanced clinical electives
  • Psychological assessment practicum
  • Psychological intervention practicum

An industrial/ organizational psychologist will need 24 semester hours drawn from the following:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research
  • I/O assessments and measurement
  • I/O theory
  • Electives in areas like motivation, applied research, consultation, management, and training and development
  • A practicum or internship appropriate to the discipline

School psychology is a special case in that a person may come under the jurisdiction of more than one licensing agency. An individual whose practice is confined solely to the schools may apply only for school certification and not apply to the Board of Psychological Examiners at all. Nonetheless the Board does set standards for professional psychologists who have a school psychology focus. A school psychologist should have 24 semester hours in the following:

  • Child/ developmental psychology
  • Intellectual assessment
  • Abilities assessment
  • Educational intervention theory
  • Program planning and consultation
  • School psychology electives
  • School psychology practicum/ internship

If a graduate earns Diplomate status through the American Board of Professional Psychology, but it does not correspond to one of the four recognized specialties, the Board will decide on a case-by-case basis which, if any, specialization the applicant is entitled to.

Psychologists can add or change specializations, but the Board notes that continuing education is not sufficient.

Postdoctoral Internship

Clinical and counseling psychology internships must be at least 11 months; school psychology internships must be at least 10 months. A candidate may do one internship or a combination of two internships.

Any internship that is accredited by the American Psychological Association or its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Psychological Association, is considered to meet the requirements of the Alabama Board. Other internships may be acceptable if they meet a rigorous set of standards. The internship must be an organized training experience and not merely a supervised work experience.

Examinations

Alabama utilizes the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPS) as a licensing examination. A candidate handbook is available through the Association of State and Provencial Psychology Boards (http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.asppb.net/resource/resmgr/EPPP_/IFC.pdf).

Candidates must wait for the Alabama Board to determine their qualifications before scheduling an examination. The test is administered via computer at Prometric centers around the country.

Candidates must also pass a state jurisprudence test, the Professional Standards Examination (PSE). Exams are scheduled on weekday mornings in Montgomery. The PSE covers the APA code of ethics as well as applicable Alabama laws. A candidate may request a copy of the code of ethics from the APA.

A candidate who fails either the board examination or jurisprudence examination will need to wait six months before making another attempt.

The Application Process

A candidate should request the application packet by sending his or her address to the email address found on the main page of the Board site (http://www.psychology.state.al.us). An examination application will be included with the licensing application.

The candidate will need four references from psychologists. One of these should be from an academic source (director, chairperson, or dissertation advisor). If the applicant has done an internship in an applied branch of psychology, at least one reference should come from the supervisor or training director. If the applicant has already practiced at the professional level, at least one reference should come from a supervisor or professional colleague.

Transcripts must be certified by a school official.

The Board reviews application packets every other month. In order for an application to be reviewed at the next meeting, all materials must be received by the first of the month on odd-numbered months. The Board notes that frequently several months pass between the time the application is sent and the time the license is granted.

Licensure by Endorsement

Out-of-state psychologists must meet all requirements that Alabama applicants do. A psychologist who holds current professional level licensing in at least two states may have a simplified process.

Alabama will not license applicants who have a license that is currently suspended, revoked, or under investigation.

The candidate must be prepared to pay a nonrefundable $200 fee upon application. A separate fee of $600 is due to the ASPPB for the board examination. There is a $50 fee for the PSE; a candidate should not remit this fee until such time as it is requested.

Additional Information

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, hold a bachelor's degree, or hold a master's degree check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Licensed Psychologist in Alabama.

The Alabama Board may be reached by phone at (334) 242-4127.

Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology (http://www.psychology.state.al.us)

The Alabama Psychological Association, or APA, is an additional professional resource (http://www.alapsych.org).

Learn more about your Psychology degree options based on your current educational attainment