Becoming a Psychologist in South Carolina


Although you will not train as a psychologist until graduate school, you will build your academic foundation years before. Here are some tips for you, whether you are still completing high school or already have a degree.

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If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate

Step 1: Get a solid foundation in the subjects required for college, particularly the basics: English, math, science, and social studies. Psychology and AP statistics are optional. Meanwhile, seek volunteer or community service opportunities. You may want to browse the website of the American Psychological Association to learn more about the psychology profession.

Step 2: Begin undergraduate studies. You will probably want to choose an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field. Look ahead to see what coursework graduate schools will want to see on your transcript. You will have the opportunity to explore different sub-disciplines of psychology. You may have the opportunity to do a supporting minor, for example, neuroscience.

Step 3: Get some research experience. In the early stages of your program, you may have the opportunity to be a research participant. Later you can write a thesis and/ or become a research assistant. It is common practice for undergraduates to contact faculty members about assisting them with research projects. Often, details can be found on the department website. You may receive independent study credit for your work.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 4: Narrow your graduate school choices.

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.

Your safest bet, at least if you are going to provide health services, is to choose a program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association or Canadian Psychological Association or that has received joint designation through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and the National Register. However, other doctoral programs may be accepted if they are housed in regionally accredited institutions and meet requirements found in state code. The South Carolina Board recognizes the following specialties: clinical, counseling, social, experimental, industrial/ organizational, community, and school psychology. Not all branches are under the jurisdiction of the APA accrediting agency.

Step 5: Make preparations for graduate school (if you did not do so during your senior year). You will need to take the GRE. You will need several strong references. Consider how your background matches up with the program’s goals. South Carolina’s Clemson University notes that PsyD programs are more likely to place a high value on clinical experience. This can be your best bet if you have more experience with human services than academic research.

Step 6: Begin your graduate program. Your doctoral program will take at least three years (exclusive of internship); it may take significantly longer. You will do a significant amount of independent research; often, you begin in an apprenticeship role. You may also begin your field experiences early on. These early experiences can help you hone skills in particular areas of interest and secure a competitive internship.

Step 7: Continue to excel during your internship or pre-doctoral supervised practice. You will need professional references as well as character references when you apply to the South Carolina Board.

Step 8: Turn in preliminary materials to the South Carolina Board; this will allow you to complete your remaining licensure requirements. You will need to work under board approved supervision for your first year of postdoctoral practice; your supervisor will be someone who has expertise in the same practice area.

You will need to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Later, you will appear before the Board for your oral examination. One purpose of this examination is to determine what branch of psychology you are competent to practice in.

*Find more detailed psychologist licensure information for South Carolina here.

Licensing Agency

South Carolina Board of Examiners in Psychology