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Psychologist Licensure Requirements in Massachusetts

The Board of Registration for Psychologists licenses Massachusetts psychologists (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/py/).

The Board of Registration also offers health service provider certification. The Board notes that while professionals occasionally opt for license without certification, this status offers limited options; it is applicable to those who do not provide direct services but want to use the professional title ‘psychologist’. The overwhelming majority of Massachusetts psychologists take the health service provider route.

The credential is dependent on completing a doctoral degree, fulfilling a supervised practice requirement, and passing two examinations.

Select a Massachusetts Psychologist License topic below...


Education Requirements

Doctoral programs that are designated as psychology programs by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (or receive the designation within two years) are deemed license qualifying provided they meet the Board’s academic requirements.

A psychology program must have a matriculated group of students. A psychologist must bear responsibility for the program. The course of study must be at least three academic years; at least one year is to be done in residence.

Students need to demonstrate competence in the following core areas:

  • Biological basis of behavior
  • Cognitive-affective basis of behavior
  • Racial/ ethnic basis of behavior
  • Social basis of behavior
  • Individual differences
  • History of psychology
  • Psychometrics and statistics
  • Research design and methodology
  • Professional and scientific standards

There must also be requirements in the student’s specialty area. The dissertation (or other equivalent doctoral project) must be psychological in methodology as well as content.

Students who will be vying for health service endorsement should complete practice-oriented programs (like clinical or counseling psychology). Candidates whose doctoral programs lie too far outside this sphere will need to complete re-specialization programs in order to be certified as health service providers.

Internship Requirement

The first 1,600 hours of a health service provider’s supervised experience are to be completed as internship or formal training. Internships that are APA-accredited are accepted as meeting requirements. Trainees whose programs do not have APA accreditation must ensure that the experience meets all requirements found in the statutes and regulations (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/py/regulations/rules-and-regs/251-cmr-300.html). The health services internship must be post-practicum. At least one-fourth of the hours are to be spent with clients, providing treatment or administering assessments. At least half the supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist. At some point in the program, the student will need four hours of training in the racial and ethnic basis of behavior.

Post-Doctoral Supervised Experience

Post-doctoral supervised experience is to comprise another 1,600 hours. Experience must be in a substantially similar branch of psychology as the one in which the degree was earned. The employee must use a title that accurately conveys his or her status as an unlicensed professional; this may be resident, fellow, or intern.

The fellow or post-doctoral trainee can only deliver health services when a qualified health professional is onsite; this may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker. The primary supervisor is to be a psychologist.

The supervisee must receive at least an hour of direct supervision for every 16 hours – and at least one hour per week. Supervision is to occur in groups of no more than three.

No work may be credited if the trainee does not put in at least 16 hours a week for a minimum of four months.

A candidate seeking health service certificate cannot credit hours spent working in academia. Employment in organizational consultation or vocational guidance is also excluded. Not all work performed in a health service setting is creditable. The work must be performed in service of a patient or client. If the candidate’s hired role is to carry out a health study that does not directly benefit the participants, this is not considered health service. A candidate who is not seeking health service endorsement may credit this type of employment.

Licensure Examination Process

Candidates will need to take a national board examination and a state jurisprudence examination. Permission to take the two tests will be granted once the Board has reviewed the application packet.

The national board examination is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. A candidate handbook can be downloaded from the site of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (http://www.asppb.net/?EPPPFAQsBD).

Candidates approved to take the jurisprudence exam will receive a copy of the Psychology Jurisprudence book. (The regulations are also posted on the Board site, but this is the unofficial version.)

A candidate who does not pass either the state or national exam must wait at least three months. Massachusetts will allow up to four examination attempts in a year.

The Application Process

Massachusetts candidates submit applications when they have completed all requirements but the examinations. The application packet, including all supplemental materials, can be downloaded from the Board site (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/py/forms). Documentation will be needed from academic and internship directors, pre- and post-doctoral supervisors or collaborators, and three professional/ character references. At least one of these is to come from a psychologist. At least two references must be able to check that they have ‘thorough’ knowledge of the candidate’s professional background and ethics. Massachusetts allows supervisors/ collaborators to fill out both practice verification forms and reference forms.

The applicant is asked to send forms to references and ‘endorsers’ along with a self-addressed envelope. Materials are to be submitted together in one application packet with the endorser’s name signed across the envelope flap.

On the application form, the candidate will indicate the particular branch of psychology where education and training were done. Massachusetts recognizes the full range of specialties, including neuropsychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, and experimental psychology.

A passport-type photo must be affixed to the application. The application must be notarized and submitted with a $150 fee.

Once the Board determines that the candidate is license-eligible, notification will be sent, along with a request to pay the licensing fee; a toll-free number will be provided. The Board notes that the fee is to be received within 90 days; if six months pass, the candidate will be required to initiate the application process anew if a license is still wanted.

Out-of-State Applicants

The Board will accept EPPP test scores that were taken in another jurisdiction. Candidates who have five years of experience and hold a Certificate of Professional Qualification (CPQ), National Register (NR) credential, or ABPP diplomate status are candidates for reciprocity. Such candidates are asked to contact the Board.

The Board notes that a license will be issued to professionals with the above qualifications even if coursework does not meet all current state regulations.

International Applicants

Internationally educated applicants are advised to contact the Board to receive a list of agencies that are authorized to provide credential evaluation.

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 Massachusetts.

Applicants may reach the Board of Registration at (617) 727-9925.

The Massachusetts Psychological Association is the state affiliate of the APA; it is not involved in the licensing process (http://www.masspsych.org).