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Psychologist Licensure Requirements in the District of Columbia

Psychologists in the District of Columbia are regulated by the Board of Psychology (http://doh.dc.gov/service/psychology-licensing). Licensure is based on education, examination, and supervised professional experience, as well as on evidence of good character.

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Education Requirements

Psychologists must have education at the doctoral level. In order to be acceptable, U.S. programs must be housed within schools that are accredited by agencies that are recognized by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education or the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.

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.

Generally speaking, programs should be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or listed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) or the National Register as meeting criteria for designation as psychology programs. Candidates who have already earned diplomas through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) will not be required to show that their degree program had program-level accreditation or designation.

Supervised Experience

The prospective psychologist will need to accrue 4,000 hours of experience while working under supervision. At least 2,000 hours must be postdoctoral; up to 2,000 hours of pre-doctoral internship may be credited. A candidate who is completing 2,000 hours at the postdoctoral level will be expected to complete requirements in a period of one to two years. A candidate who is fulfilling all 4,000 hours at the postdoctoral level may have up to three years. In some instances, the Board may extend the time limits for good cause.

A notification of supervised practice is to be filed at least a week before commencement of practice. The form elicits details about the job as well as the supervisory relationship. The supervisee may have multiple supervisors, but in this event, more than one form will be required.

Each month, the supervisee is expected to spend at least 5% of experience hours receiving direct supervision; the DC Board credits time spent under the observation of an appropriately licensed supervisor as well as time spent in discussion sessions.

A total of at least 200 hours of supervision must be provided. At least 100 hours must be provided by a psychologist. The remaining hours may also be provided by a psychologist or may be provided by another qualified mental health professional (psychiatrist or social worker). Up to 50 of these hours may take place in a small group setting with three to five supervisees in attendance.

Supervisors will rate the prospective psychologist for licensing purposes.

Applicants must remain under general supervision until such time as a license is issued.

The Examination Process

A DC psychologist must pass a national board examination, the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and later, a local jurisprudence examination. The EPPP may be attempted once education is complete; a candidate may test while in the process of completing supervision requirements. DC has adopted, as the standard of passing, one-half a standard deviation below the nationwide mean score. Additional examination information is available on the ASPPB site (www.asppb.net).

A candidate who fails the EPPP will be allowed to retake it. In the event of a second failure, however, a one-year wait time will be imposed. Any subsequent failure will result in a one-year wait.

The District/Local Examination assesses knowledge of the APA code of ethics as well as DC statutes and rules. Study materials will be sent to candidates. The passing score is 75%. A candidate who fails the DC/Local examination on a first attempt will be allowed to submit another license application and retake the examination the next time it is offered. A candidate who fails a second time will need to wait six months.

The Board may opt to interview candidates but will not deny licensure based on interviews unless there is indication of some violation.

Background Checks

Applicants must have criminal background checks through the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) unless they have already been fingerprinted by the DC Health Professional Licensing Administration (http://doh.dc.gov/node/120532). They may contact MPD at (202) 442-9004 or use the L-1 Live Scan electronic fingerprinting system.

L-1 appointments may be scheduled online (http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=DC) or by telephone at (877) 783-4187. Applicants who cannot go to an L-1 center may still opt to have fingerprints scanned and processed through the approved vendor; this may make the process quicker.

The Application Process

Application materials are available on the Board site (http://doh.dc.gov/node/160242). Two passport-style photographs must be submitted with the application, as well as a copy of an ID. The candidate will need to list character references. Official transcripts will be required.

A candidate submitting a first application pays a combined $321.60 fee for application, licensure, and local examination. A candidate re-applying after examination failure pays $119. (Additional fees will be due to the testing company if the EPPP must be retaken.)

Candidates will be notified if application information is missing. However, in the event that the signature is missing or the fee incorrect, the application will be returned.

The Board typically reviews applications on the third Friday of the month.

Out-of-District Psychologists

An out-of-state licensee who has been credentialed at least two years may present evidence of professional-level licensed practice in lieu of supervised practice.

Any of the following credentials may make mobility easier: an ABPP diploma, National Register listing, or Certification of Professional Qualification (CPQ).

ABPP scores may be accepted in lieu of EPPP scores. An out-of-state psychologist who has taken the EPPP in the preceding five years may be excused from retaking it (even if ineligible for reciprocal licensing) if, during the interim, he or she has been licensed and actively practicing. This will be determined by curriculum vitae.

A candidate needing to take the DC/Local examination should seek to have the application package in 90 days before a scheduled examination.

Internationally Educated Applicants

Internationally educated psychologists must have their credentials reviewed by an independent credential review agency to establish equivalency. Required documents must be translated into English.

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 becoming a Psychologist in DC.

Application questions may be addressed to the Health Professional Licensing Administration at 1-877-540-5827. A licensing specialist who can answer questions about registering supervision is available at 202-724-4939.

The DC Psychological Association (http://dpa.onefireplace.com), an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, is a source of general professional information.

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