Psychology Licensing Requirements in California
California’s psychologists are licensed by the Board of Psychology (http://www.psychboard.ca.gov). Licensure is based on attaining a doctoral degree, passing state and national licensing examinations, and completing a year of supervised practice.
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Select a California Psychologist License topic below…
- Education Requirements
- Postdoctoral Supervision Requirements
- Psychologist Exam
- Application & Related Materials (Link to Form)
- Licensure by Endorsement
- Contact Information: Board and Professional Organizations
Educational Requirements for Psychologists in CA
Prospective psychologists may pursue doctoral degrees in psychology or educational psychology through accredited institutions.
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California requires the following coursework, which may not be included in the basic program:
- human sexuality (10 contact hours)
- substance abuse (15 contact hours)
- spousal abuse (15 contact hours)
- child abuse (7 contact hours)
- aging/ long-term care (10 contact hours)
Supplemental California coursework may be completed online provided it meets the requirements in the state code.
A person may be licensed as a psychological assistant after a master’s degree has been conferred. This status can be held for only six years.
Supervised Practice Requirements in California
A candidate will need a total of at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience; up to 1,500 hours of pre-doctoral experience may be counted.
Candidates must make sure they are working lawfully while earning experience hours. Formal internships are acceptable if they are accredited by the American Psychological Association or are members of the California Psychology Internship Council or the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers.
If a candidate is not working at an exempt setting (such as a university) and has not been granted a waiver by the Department of Mental Health, he or she must hold a state credential while accruing experience hours.
The ‘registered psychologist’ credential is a 30-month credential designed to allow the candidate to work at a qualifying nonprofit community agency while accruing hours. In order to qualify, an agency must receive at least ¼ of its funding from the government. Psychologists who are earning hours through this pathway must have a licensed psychologist (who is an employee of the agency) available at all times.
A candidate who has been registration as a psychological assistant following the granting of a master’s degree can work under this status while earning postdoctoral hours. It is also acceptable to apply for this status after the doctoral degree has been conferred. A psychological assistant will need an hour a week of direct supervision from a licensed psychologist or board certified psychiatrist; no fee may be charged for supervision. Annual registration renewal is required (at a rate of $40 a year). The supervisor will submit a form certifying that the psychological assistant is performing at the level necessary to ensure patient safety. (The Board notes that supervisees should read and thoroughly understand regulations as hours are frequently denied.)
A candidate may begin post-doctoral practice before the ceremonial awarding of the degree, but will need evidence that requirements (administrative as well as substantive) were met.
Supervised experience earned in another state, province, or U.S. territory may be counted, so long as the supervisor was duly licensed. Supervised experience that took place in other nations can be credited if it meets the standards on the level that California requires; however, the burden of proof is on the applicant.
Supervised Experience for Psychologists Who Are Not Providing Mental Health Services
Industrial-occupational psychologists, applied research psychologists, and other psychologists who do not provide mental health services must accrue the same number of hours in order to earn licensing. Supervision plans will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Candidates must pass both state and national licensing examinations. The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) may be attempted once the doctoral degree has been granted and the first 1,500 hours of supervised experience earned. The test is computerized and offered at sites throughout the nation. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) currently charges $600. A candidate handbook can be downloaded from the ASPPB site.
Candidates who took and passed the EPPP in another jurisdiction should have their scores sent directly from the ASPPB to the California Board.
The California Supplemental Psychology Examination (CSPE) is not taken until after all 3,000 experience hours have been earned. The exam is administered by computer and is available on an ongoing basis, though candidates must first receive authorization by the California Board. The fee is currently $129. A candidate will find a testing bulletin, which includes a list of testing locations, on the Board site.
A candidate who fails the CSPE must wait six months before retesting, but must do so within one year in order to prevent eligibility from lapsing.
The Application Process
Applications may be submitted online (https://www.breeze.ca.gov/) or downloaded and mailed. Applicants must submit transcripts from all institutions where they took graduate coursework.
There is a nonrefundable $40 application fee; this is separate from testing fees and licensure fees.
The Board asks that candidates become familiar with California laws and regulations before submitting applications. These are available online and can also be obtained in print form from the Board for a $10 fee.
Military spouses and legal domestic partners are eligible for expedited licensing.
Candidates need clearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. California utilizes a LiveScan fingerprinting process. Candidates must take the required paperwork to their fingerprinting site (http://www.psychology.ca.gov/applicants/fingerprint.shtml).
A criminal record must be reported. However, it will not necessarily preclude licensure; some convictions are judged by the Board to be not substantially related to the psychologist role.
A psychologist who is licensed in another state or Canadian province may practice in California only on a very limited basis without obtaining a California license; up to 30 days is allowed in a year. A psychologist who takes up residence in California or submits a licensing application is allowed to practice up to 180 days while going through the licensing process. (The date is figured from the earlier of the two events.) The psychologist will need to complete the criminal background check, take the required classes in substance abuse, child and spousal abuse, human sexuality, and aging, and take one of two examinations.
A psychologist who has held a license for five years will not be required to take the California Psychology Supplemental Examination. The prospective licensee must instead pass the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE). The CPLEE is based on APA ethical principles as well as California laws and regulations. A candidate bulletin, and other testing information, is available on the Board site (http://www.psychology.ca.gov/applicants/index.shtml).
Candidates who present evidence that they have been licensed in another state or province for five years and are credentialed by the American Board of Professional Psychology, the National Register of Health Services Providers, or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards will be deemed eligible to take the CPLEE. Psychologists who have been licensed for five years but do not hold certification will need to provide the Board with transcripts and evidence of having 3,000 hours of supervised practice.
Internationally educated psychologists will need to have their credentials evaluated through some organization that is a member of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (http://www.naces.org/). This does not apply to Canadian psychologists; however, any Canadian applicant whose transcripts are not in English will need to have them translated by an accredited agency.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, hold a bachelor’s degree, or hold a master’s degree check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Licensed Psychologist in California.
Applicants who have unresolved questions may email the Board. The Board may also be contacted by telephone at 916-574-7720 or 866-503-3221.