Becoming a Psychologist in New Jersey
You can make the decision to become a psychologist at virtually any point. Even New Jersey’s prestigious Rutgers University will consider applicants who are not undergraduate psychology majors and those who are considering psychology as a second career. Recognize, though, that psychology practice is a doctoral level licensed profession and that you will need a strong record academically and professionally. It’s a good idea to do some early preparation!
If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate
Step 1: In high school, it’s more important that you focus on general college prep than that you take specific courses. However, you may want to take an introductory psychology course. You may also consider advanced placement in areas like statistics. You will do well to participate in service projects or volunteer work.
Step 2: Apply to universities. You may want to compare psychology programs at different schools, even at the undergraduate level. Some will provide special opportunities, for example, the opportunity to take courses from professors who are distinguished in particular branches of psychology. You may get the chance to choose a specialization or focus area and have this reflected on your transcript. Your choice of specialization can provide you with extra opportunities as well as requirements. You may, for example, have support in finding an internship where you can provide human services in a direct capacity. However, you don’t have to limit yourself t degree requirements!
Step 3: Distinguish yourself at the undergraduate level. Make sure you have a foundation in research. Your program may require a thesis or senor project. If not, you can generally do independent study as an elective or honors course. You may begin getting research experience long before senior year. Your department may provide contacts for faculty members looking for research assistants. You can also compete for summer internships or fellowships.
If You Have a College Degree
Step 4: Take stock of your readiness. If you have not already taken the GRE, spend some time preparing. High GRE scores can help offset a GPA that isn’t in the upper rung. The admission committee typically looks at your resume and considers your academic and professional references and the vision you articulate in your personal statement. Some candidates opt to complete a master’s before a doctorate.
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.
Step 5: Turn your research skills in another direction: finding the most appropriate doctoral program. Your program must be in a regionally accredited school. The program may be accredited by the American Psychological Association (or Canadian Psychological Association) or designated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. A non-accredited program can also be accepted if it meets New Jersey state requirements. One requirement is that you spend at least one full-time year, or two part-time years, in residence at the school that grants your degree. Another is that you have coursework in specific Board-mandated areas.
Step 6: Begin graduate school: coursework, research, and practical experience. Your doctoral program will include a dissertation. The New Jersey State Board will expect you to submit a copy when you apply. You can use your early practicum experiences to gain expertise in areas that interest you and build references that will help you secure a competitive internship.
Step 7: Complete your supervised practice. New Jersey requires 3,500 total supervised experience hours, including at least 1,750 accrued at the postdoctoral level. While working under supervision, you will prepare a case study. You will need to submit this to the Board in advance of your oral examination.
Step 8: Complete your remaining requirements. You will take a national board examination, the EPPP. After you have passed the EPPP, you will appear before the Board for an oral examination.