Becoming a Psychologist in Tennessee

licensure maze

If you want to practice directly as a clinical or counseling psychologist in Tennessee, you will need a license and a health service provider designation. It’s a long journey that won’t end until after you have a doctoral degree. Where you begin the journey is up to you — but a solid foundation will help you succeed.

Featured Programs:
  • Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers an Online Bachelor’s in Psychology. This program is modeled around the American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines. APA does not accredit undergraduate psychology programs. Capella University, also offers several Online Master’s and Doctoral programs in Psychology including both clinical and non-clinical specializations. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.


  • Grand Canyon University (GCU) - offers an online Bachelor's in Psychology modeled after the standards and recommendations set by the American Psychological Association with emphases in: Forensic Psychology and Performance and Sports Psychology. GCU also offers a variety of Master’s in Psychology programs modeled after the standards and recommendations set by the American Psychological Association with emphases in: Forensic Psychology, General Psychology, GeroPsychology, Health Psychology, Human Factors Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Life Coaching. Three Bachelor’s in Psychology programs are also offered. Click here to learn about GCU and their programs.


  • Pepperdine University - Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy online - Prepare to pursue licensure as an LMFT or LPC in as few as 24 months. No GRE required. Click Here to request information today.


  • University of Southern California - Online MSW - With options for both online and in-person field placement, USC's CSWE-accredited MSW program allows those with a BSW to earn their degree in as few as 12 months. Click Here to request information today.

If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate

Step 1: Make the most of high school opportunities. Consider honors and advanced placement courses in the areas where you are strongest. Also consider using your high school capstone project to explore your interest in psychology — begin brainstorming early.

Step 2: Plan your undergraduate studies. Recognize that psychology is a very popular undergraduate major, and that just completing the degree doesn’t put you on track to graduate school. Some schools offer multiple psychology majors or concentrations. Even if your school doesn’t, you will have curriculum decisions at multiple points along the way. Meet with an adviser early on.

Step 3: Maintain a high GPA as an undergraduate. The University of Tennessee notes that the minimum GPA for acceptance into the graduate program is 3.0, but that most admitted students have at least a 3.5. These standards are on a par with that of many competitive programs around the nation.

Step 4: Seek out additional opportunities, both curricular and extracurricular. It’s almost a must to have some research experience. Many selective programs like to see quite a bit. You may begin the search on your own department website.

Also consider becoming a member of a psychology honor society or professional association. You can become a member of the American Psychological Association — and even become involved with the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students — during your undergraduate years. When you’re in the last two years of your program, you will likely want to read APA publications about the graduate school selection process.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 5: Apply to the most appropriate doctoral programs. Recognize that programs will vary in the relative emphasis that they place on research and other professional experiences. You will submit GRE scores, references, and a personal statement.

If you are not ready to apply to doctoral programs, you may apply at the master’s level. You can become a psychological assistant in Tennessee with a master’s degree. You will want to do quite a bit of research if you go this route. Some programs can serve your current needs and act as a springboard for further education; however, this won’t be the case with all.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several Master’s and Doctoral programs in Psychology including Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Capella University, also offers three online CACREP- accredited master’s programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Step 6: Progress through the doctoral program. You will spend a minimum of three to four years taking foundation and core courses, meeting research and dissertation requirements, and completing practicum or introductory fieldwork experiences. Both the number of years and the breadth and depth of experience are highly variable.

Step 7: Complete your internship. You will go through a competitive process to secure an internship that is accredited by the American Psychological Association or a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). (A non-accredited internship may be accepted, but the burden will be on you to demonstrate that it meets similar standards.)

Your internship will be the equivalent of a full year (at least 1,900 hours).

Step 8: Apply to the Board for your provisional license. You will need this to complete your 1,900 postdoctoral supervised experience hours.

You will also need to complete the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EEEP) and a state ethics and jurisprudence examination.

*Find more detailed psychologist licensure information for Tennessee here.

Licensing Agency

Tennessee Board of Examiners of Psychology health.state.tn.us/boards/Psychology/