Becoming a Psychologist in North Dakota

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In order to practice as a psychologist in North Dakota, you will need a license. The license is the culmination of years of preparation. The latter stages include plenty of mandates. The early stages are flexible — but making the most of opportunities will increase the chances that you meet your goal.

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If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate

Step 1: In high school, concentrate on general college prep courses; psychology coursework is optional. Your extracurricular activities can help you explore careers. You may opt for Health Occupations Students Association (HOSA) membership to build your speaking and presentation skills — and to begin to get a handle on what’s expected out in the professional world. It’s also good to begin doing service projects or volunteer work at this stage.

Step 2: Begin undergraduate studies. The first hurdle is getting into your chosen school. The next is planning your program. Not all undergraduate psychology programs are tailored to the needs of future psychologists. Sometimes it’s about choosing between a BA and a BS. Sometimes it’s about choosing your psychology electives. North Dakota State University notes that there are psychology courses that a student would do well to have if considering graduate school.

Step 3: Seek out opportunities beyond those required for your degree. A majority of PhD programs expect research experience. You can often find opportunities through your department. The University of North Dakota notes that completing an honors thesis is a way to carry out independent research as an undergraduate. You may also find field placements through your school or department. The expectations of graduate schools will vary, but recognize that many programs are highly selective, accepting less than 10% of applicants.

Step 4: You may also want to join a professional organization. You do not have to be a psychology major to become a member of a student psychological association – this is an option if you decide as an upperclassman that you aspire to be a psychologist.

If You Are a College Graduate

Step 5: Prepare for graduate school. If you are going straight from college to graduate school, you will probably have taken the GRE — if not, start preparing. Take stock of your professional and academic history and decide if you are ready to apply or need additional coursework or experience.

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 6: Meanwhile, thoroughly research your graduate school options. North Dakota only licenses individuals who complete programs accredited or designated by the American Psychological Association, Canadian Psychological Association, or Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. The APA publishes a book that will help with the graduate school selection process. The organization offers plenty of other resources; you may start by browsing their website.

Step 7: Begin your doctoral preparation. You generally spend at least four years completing your degree – sometimes significantly more. The first few years are comprised of didactic courses, seminars, practical training, and research. Then you complete a yearlong internship. You may have the option of doing pre-internship that meets North Dakota supervised practice standards; the licensing agency will credit more than a year of pre-doctoral practice toward the two year practice requirement provided that it meets all standards found in state administrative code.

Step 9: Complete your residency, or postdoctoral supervised practice. You will register your supervision with the North Dakota State Board before you begin postdoctoral practice. The focus will be on delivering services under supervision. (Most research or academic experience is not creditable, but there are exceptions.)

Step 10: Apply to the Board for permission to take the licensing examinations. You will first take a national examination (the EPPP); this is administered by computer. Then you will be asked to appear for an oral examination. You will need to display knowledge of psychology-related law and ethics.

*Find more detailed psychologist licensure information for North Dakota here.

Licensing Agency

North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners