Psychologist Licensing Requirements in Washington

Washington psychologists are regulated by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Board of Psychology Credentialing. Licensure is based on education, examination, and supervised professional experience.

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Washington Psychologist Education Requirements

Click Here to learn more about psychology education options based on your current educational attainment.

The psychologist candidate must complete a doctoral program that is housed in a regionally accredited institution. At least one year must be completed in residence; 750 hours of face-to-face educational meetings may be accepted as meeting the residency requirement, provided they are appropriately documented.

There must be at least 40 semester hours of graduate coursework in areas required by Washington code.

If the program was not accredited by the American Psychological Association or the Canadian Psychological Association, the candidate will need to document three semester hours in the following:

  • Biological basis of behavior
  • Social basis of behavior
  • Cognitive-affective basis of behavior
  • Individual differences
  • Scientific and professional ethics
  • Statistics and psychometrics
  • Research methodology and design
  • Psychology history and systems
  • Techniques of data analysis
  • Human development
  • Cultural and individual diversity
  • Psychopathology and dysfunctional behavior
  • Psychopharmacology

There should be at least two courses in diagnosis and assessment and at least three courses focusing on providing effective treatment and evaluating the effectiveness of said treatment.

The program must include practicum and internship experiences that meet Board requirements (as outlined below). The dissertation must be “psychological in nature”.
If the school curriculum does not include seven hours of AIDS training, the candidate will need to pursue this separately at some point before licensure.

Supervised Experience Requirements in WA

A total of 3,300 hours of experience is required. Practicum and formal internship are both mandatory. Practicum experience must be at least 300 hours and take place over a minimum of two semesters.

The remaining hours may be pre- or postdoctoral. Pre-internship hours must meet standards in WAC 246-924-053 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-924-053) in order to be credited. Before beginning such an experience, the doctoral student is to meet with professionals from the pre-internship program as well as his or own academic program and jointly set down goals. Fully 60% of the experience must consist of client contact. For every 20 hours, the student will need two hours of supervision and two hours of additional learning experiences like co-therapy sessions, seminars, and case conferences. At least 75% of the required supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist who meets experience requirements; the remaining supervision may be provided by an experienced psychiatrist, clinical or advanced social worker, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or license-exempt psychologist.

Practicum hours beyond the stated 300 minimum may be counted as pre-internship if they meet this set of standards.

The internship must comprise at least 1,500 hours. The internship program may be accredited by the APA or a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. If not, it must meet requirements set out in WAC 246-924-056 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-924-056). The program must provide adequate breadth. A licensed psychologist must be designated as bearing responsibility for program integrity and quality. At this level, at least 25% of experience must be met through direct client contact.

At least 75% of internship supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist who meets experience standards. Every 40 hours of experience should include two hours of face-to-face individual supervision focused on actual service delivery as well as two hours of additional learning experiences.

Internship hours in excess of 1,500 may also be credited provided they meet the stated standards. The remainder of the requirement is met through supervised professional experience in which a qualified professional takes responsibility for services provided. Supervision is to take place according to a written supervision agreement. At least half the supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist.

The Psychologist Examination in Washington

The candidate must take a series of examinations. The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is the first one attempted. It is a national board examination which is administered throughout the nation. A candidate may view content outlines and get an overview of the process at the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) site. However, the candidate must be authorized by Washington State before registering or paying the $600 fee.

The jurisprudence examination is in multiple choice format. It is administered on a monthly basis at the DOH office in Tumwater. Study materials are available on the DOH website. A list of upcoming exam dates is available as well. Click here to see the dates.

The exam is open book, but the passing score is set high: 90%. A candidate who does not pass a first attempt will be allowed to retake the exam. A candidate who does not pass a second attempt will need to petition for permission to make another attempt. A plan will be required and a two month wait time imposed.

Psychologist Application Process – WA

Application packets are available online and can be downloaded by clicking here. The initial application form, along with the $291 fee, should be sent to the DOH office in Olympia. Additional supplemental materials should be sent straight to the Board office. Normally supervision is verified directly. In the event a supervisor is deceased or cannot be located, another psychologist may serve as professional reference.

Application status can be monitored online. DOH processes applications in the order received and publicly posts where, date-wise, they are in the review process.

Military spouses and domestic partners are eligible for expedited licensing. There is a supplemental application form.

Background Checks

DOH uses the Washington State Patrol database to conduct background checks. Out-of-state applicants are typically required to complete fingerprint-based background checks. There is a fee of $32.50 (in addition to whatever fee is assessed by the fingerprinting agency). Candidates with a criminal history may also be required to undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Applicants should wait until such time as they are notified and a fingerprint request is made.

Out-of-State Candidates

Verification is required from all states of licensure, past or present. The applicant must also list any state where a license was applied for but not granted.
ABPP diplomate status is accepted as evidence that certain requirements were met. Candidates who hold this credential will not need to fill out section five of the endorsement application: “education”.

While licensure may be granted to applicants who met requirements in any jurisdiction, the process will vary. Psychologists licensed in states that have been deemed to have substantially equivalent requirements will have a simplified process (provided they have held licenses for two years).

The following states have been evaluated and found to have substantially equivalent requirements:

  • Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

The following states have been deemed “not equivalent”:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Applicants from these states will need to document that they met internship requirements on the level that Washington requires. If they have held licenses at least two years, they will still use the endorsement application packet.
As of November 2013, the other states have not yet been reviewed.

Temporary Permits

Provided the state of licensure has substantially equivalent requirements, out-of-state licensees are eligible for temporary permits that authorize up to 90 days of practice in Washington State.

Additional Information for Washington Psychologists

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 Washington.

The licensing agency can be reached at 360-236-4700.
The Washington State Psychological Association is the state affiliate of the APA .