Becoming a Psychologist in Maryland

psychology student

You will not become a psychologist after you have earned a doctorate and passed a licensing examination. You will face competition at many points along the way, particularly when you apply to graduate programs and internships. The following are some guidelines to get you started.

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If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate

Step 1: Excel in high school. A general college prep curriculum is adequate, but you may opt for advanced coursework in psychology or statistics. You may have some say in how you use your required student service hours. You can use them to explore personal interests within the helping professions. Ideas are found on the site of the Maryland State Department of Education (

Step 2: Plan your college studies. You must attend an accredited school. Your psychology program (if you choose psychology as your undergraduate major) does not need to have any particular accreditation. Undergraduate psychology programs vary widely, but you often have many choices with regard to curriculum and extracurricular activity.

Step 3: Go beyond the required curriculum. You may have the opportunity to do a service-oriented internship. Research experience is of particular value. You can become an undergraduate research assistant; there may be multiple independent study options. There will likely be minimum GPA requirements for eligibility. However, the minimum will likely not be above the level required for entry into a competitive doctoral program.

Step 4: Begin taking steps toward graduate school admission during your junior or senior year. Make sure you have strong references. You may need to spend time prepping for the GRE.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 5: If you are concerned about being accepted to a doctoral program in Psychology after completing your bachelor’s degree due to lower or insufficient academic achievement, you may want to apply to master’s programs first.

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 three online CACREP-accredited programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in School Counseling, and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, as well as a COAMFTE-accredited program, MS in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Seek out an appropriate doctoral program, one that is accredited by the American Psychological Association or Canadian Psychological Association or that is designated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. PhD programs tend to include more substantive research requirements while PsyD programs may place greater emphasis on direct service delivery; there will be some difference in the profile of the typical admitted student.

Meanwhile, assess your readiness. Some students opt for a master’s first.

Step 6: Begin your doctoral program. You may begin practical training early in the program. Your school will likely have its own medical center where behavioral health services and cognitive assessments are administered; fieldwork may also take place in other community settings. Experiences that take place after the first year may be credited as supervised experience by the Maryland Board; the experience must meet the adopted standards.

Step 7: Complete your internship. This will be required if you are in a practice-oriented psychology discipline, but not if your work is solely research-oriented or organizational. You will go through a competitive process to secure an APA or APPIC internship. It is often possible to stay in the same metropolitan area internship year, but some students do relocate. The internship will likely be a paid work experience, but you will continue to receive training as well as supervision.

Step 8: Complete any remaining doctoral requirements while working in the field. You may still have work to do on your dissertation. The Maryland Board will credit hours you worked as supervised experience; you will need to be under appropriate university supervision.

Step 9: Complete remaining licensing requirements. If your supervised experience hours do not total 3,250, you will need to complete the remainder at the postdoctoral level. In some cases, this is done as part of a formal postdoctoral fellowship.

You will also need to take and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

*Find more detailed psychologist licensure information for Maryland here.

Licensing Agency

Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists