Becoming a Psychologist in Wisconsin

student studying

Your journey to become a psychologist will end when you complete your postdoctoral requirements. Where the journey begins is up to you. There is no requirement that you have an undergraduate degree in psychology. However, your undergraduate program – and the opportunities you seek – can increase your chances of being accepted into a top doctoral program.

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If You Are a High School Student or Undergraduate

Step 1: Prepare for college admission. University level psychology coursework builds on strong science and critical reading skills.

This is also the time to begin volunteering. There are plenty of organizations in the state to help you get connected. Some have programs for teens. For example, the Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin has a youth coordinator out in the schools. The Volunteer Center of Washington County has sponsored youth camps.

Step 2: Decide where you will do your undergraduate studies. If you are relocating for school, you may want to consider what the undergraduate psychology program has to offer. Opportunities will vary by department. If you are a first generation college student or a member of an underrepresented group, perks could include research mentoring.

Step 3: Seek out extra opportunities, particularly with regard to research. You can begin the search on your program website; faculty members often welcome undergraduate assistants in their labs. The honors department may provide additional opportunities.

The Psi Chi National Honor Society is a separate entity. It may provide you with service and leadership opportunities. Honors programs and honor societies typically set GPA requirements. If you maintain these standards, your GPA will be sufficient to place you in the running in many graduate programs – however, the average GPA of admitted students may be higher yet.

Step 4: Begin preparing for graduate school. You will need to take the GRE.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 5: Apply to the programs that best meet your needs. To be license qualifying, a program must be housed in a regionally accredited institution. Wisconsin does not require that the psychology program have a particular programmatic accreditation. However, it does require that it meet certain basic standards: for example, that it comprise at least three years of study with at least one done in residence. That leaves a lot of choices! Programs vary in the relative emphasis they place on research and practice. Your background may mean that a particular type of program is a better fit – and that you have a greater chance of being accepted.

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: Meet doctoral requirements. Your program will include a dissertation; it may include a master’s level thesis as well. Your early practical experiences may be termed practicum or externship. The Wisconsin Board does not credit them toward your supervised practice requirement. However, the depth and breadth of your experience, as well as the references you secure, can help you attain a competitive internship.

Step 7: Go through the matching process and secure an internship. While Wisconsin does not mandate that the first 1,500 hours of supervised practice be earned in a pre-doctoral training program, a program in clinical or counseling psychology will typically require it. If you are going to credit the experience as supervised practice, you must make sure it meets state supervision requirements.

Step 8: Find a suitable position. You will work under supervision until you have accrued at least 1,500 postdoctoral hours (and at least 3,000 total hours).

Step 9: Take the licensing examinations. You may complete the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) while you are completing your supervision hours. You will eventually need to pass an ethics examination and attend an oral interview.

*Find more detailed psychologist licensure information for Wisconsin here.

Licensing Agency

Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board