California Psychology Licensure Requirements
The California Board of Psychology (the Board) regulates the profession of psychology in the state. In order to become a psychologist in California, you will need to complete the educational and supervised experience requirements and pass two exams. Our step-by-step guide to obtaining a California psychology license will help clarify the process.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Licensed Psychologist
- Licensure by Reciprocity
- License Renewal and Continuing Education
- Related Licenses
- Jobs and Salary Information
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Psychologist in California
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree and (optionally) a master’s degree in psychology.
Earning your bachelor’s degree in psychology or another field is the first step toward getting your license to practice psychology. Students typically take four years of full-time study to earn a bachelor’s degree. The number of credits required for a baccalaureate degree varies by institution but is usually around 120 credits. Your bachelor’s degree may be in psychology or another field; however, note that if your undergraduate major is not in psychology, you will probably have to take prerequisites before entering a graduate program in psychology.
Some students choose to pursue a stand-alone master’s degree in psychology after the bachelor’s degree, even though it is not required. If you are taking classes full-time, you can usually complete a master’s degree in about two years. Some schools offer programs in which you can obtain a master’s degree as part of a doctoral program. Be sure to research your doctoral degree options to decide whether applying for a stand-alone master’s program is right for you. Most stand-alone master’s in psychology programs take between 30 and 40 credit hours to complete.
2. Earn a doctoral degree in psychology.
Students who want to earn a doctorate in psychology have the choice of two different types of degrees. The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) has more of a clinical focus, while the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology typically has more of a research focus. To read more about the differences between the two degrees, check out our home page. Most doctoral programs usually take four to seven years to complete.
The Board requires all licensed psychologists to have a degree in psychology from an institution that is regionally accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the US Dept. of Education. If your degree is from a university outside of North America, you must submit to the Board an evaluation of your degree and its requirements by a foreign credential evaluation service, along with any other documents the Board requests. Your doctoral program may include up to 1,500 hours of the required 3,000 hours of supervised experience for licensure, with the remaining hours to be completed post-doctorally.
Read more about doctoral school options on our California schools page.
3. Obtain two years of supervised experience.
The Board requires applicants to have two years (3,000 hours) of supervised experience. Up to 1,500 hours can be pre-doctoral supervised experience before your doctoral program is complete, as part of a pre-doctoral internship, exempt setting, or as a registered psychological associate. The remaining 1,500 hours must be post-doctoral supervised experience, as part of a formal post-doctoral internship, in an exempt setting, or as a registered psychological associate. To register as a psychological associate, you must submit an application, a $40 fee, official transcripts, fingerprints, and a Supervision Agreement form. The psychological associate designation is valid for 72 months, during which you must be supervised by a licensed psychologist. It must be renewed each year.
4. Submit an application to the Board.
You may submit your application online or by mail. The application fee for both is $40. You will also submit your Supervision Agreement form and Verification of Experience form to verify at least 1,500 hours of supervised experience, along with official transcripts. You are also required to be fingerprinted through the state’s Live Scan service.
5. Pass the California psychology licensing exams.
Once you have received approval from the Board, you must take two tests to receive your license to practice psychology in California. The first one is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). You will be given unofficial scores after you complete the test and will receive official results by mail. If you don’t pass the test, you can retake it the next year. There is an EPPP practice exam available to help you prepare.
Once you pass the EPPP, you are ready to take the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE). You must submit the CPLEE Request Form to request to take this test, along with a check for the $129 testing fee. Along with your request, you will need to once again submit the Supervision Agreement form and Verification of Experience form documenting the remainder of your 3,000 hours of CPE. The CPLEE covers the ethics, laws, and regulations pertaining to psychologists in California. You will have two and a half hours to complete 100 multiple-choice questions. If you fail this test, you have to wait until another test date is available before you can take it again.
6. Complete the required coursework, if necessary.
The Board requires that certain pre-licensure courses be taken, covering the following subjects: human sexuality; alcohol/chemical dependency detection and treatment; child abuse assessment; spousal or partner abuse assessment; aging and long-term care training; and suicide risk assessment and intervention. If these courses were not taken as part of your psychology education, they may be taken at any time during the application process.
7. Request your license from the Board.
Once you have passed both tests and completed the course requirements you can request your initial license. You will be given a Request for Initial Licensure Form after you take the CPLEE and will send the form along with a $400 check to the Board.
8. Receive your California psychology license.
If your application is approved, the Board will email your psychology license number to you within four to six weeks.
California Licensure by Reciprocity
If you are a licensed psychologist who wants to become licensed in California, you must first apply to take the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE). To apply, you will need to pay a $40 application fee and $129 testing fee, complete the application, the CPLEE Request Form, request to transfer your EPPP exam score, submit official transcripts, and proof of supervised experience using the Verification of Experience (VOE) form. If you have been licensed for more than two years in another state, you may submit your credential as a Health Service Provider in Psychology by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (NRHSPP); certification by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP); or Certificate of Professional Qualification (CPQ) issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board (ASPPB) in lieu of proof of supervision. You will be contacted by the Board if you are approved to take the exam.
Once you have passed the CPLEE, you will get fingerprinted and receive a Request for Initial Licensure form by the examination vendor, which you will mail and submit, along with the $400 fee, to the Board. You must also ensure that you have taken the required pre-licensure coursework. Within two to four weeks of receiving your application, the Board will email your license information to you.
License Renewal and Continuing Education
Psychology licenses must be renewed every two years in California. The course requirement is 36 hours, with nine of those hours taken live (including real-time webinars). You must stay up-to-date on laws and ethics, though there is no specific hour requirement of CE on this topic. CE is documented using the Continuing Education Reporting form
CE courses must be provided by entities approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the California Psychological Association (CPA), the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), or the California Medical Association (CMA)/Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The cost for renewing a license is $530 every two years. License renewal may be completed online or by mail.
Licensed Educational Psychologist
The Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) issues a license for Licensed Educational Psychologists (LEPs) to experienced school psychologists. To qualify, you must have a master’s degree in psychology, school psychology, counseling and guidance, or the equivalent from a regionally-accredited school as well as 60 semester hours of postgraduate work in pupil personal services. You will also be be fingerprinted through the state’s Live Scan service, pass a criminal background check, complete three years of full-time experience working as a school psychologist, and pass the LEP written exam before requesting the initial LEP license.
The Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential with a specialization in school psychology is regulated by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and post-bachelor’s degree of 60 semester units in a Commission-approved school psychology preparation program that includes a practicum with school-aged children. They must also obtain the recommendation of a California school that has a Commission-approved program in Pupil Personnel Services specializing in school psychology. Finally, they must complete the Basic Skills Requirement, the Live Scan fingerprint process, and apply to the Commission with a $100 fee.
California Psychologist Jobs and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May 2021 reports that the average wage of industrial-organizational, clinical, counseling, school, and all other psychologists was $113,655 a year.1 In fact, California was one of the five top-paying states for average annual salary for all four BLS categories of practicing psychologists as of May 2021.2-5 It was also the highest-paying state for postsecondary psychology teachers.6 According to Projections Central, prospective psychologists in California should continue to see positive growth in job openings over the 10-year period between 2020 and 2030.7 Clinical, counseling, and school psychologist job openings are expected to grow by 8.6%; industrial-organizational psychologist jobs by 5.6%; “all other” psychologists are predicted to have no growth; and postsecondary psychology teacher job openings are projected to grow by 7.7% over the same period.7
|Average Annual Salary1
|Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
|Psychologists, All Other
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary
- California Association of School Psychologists (CASP): Offers continuing education and networking opportunities to its members, in addition to webinars, survey opportunities, and travel discounts.
- California Psychological Association (CPA): A non-profit association for California psychologists that provides information on licenses and CE courses.
- Western Psychology Association (WPA): Organization that is open to students and professionals who want to exchange research and ideas.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a licensed psychologist in California?
To become a licensed psychologist in California, you need to have a doctorate degree, which can take up to seven years to obtain. You will also have to acquire 3,000 hours of supervised experience, 1,500 of which can be pre-doctoral. Becoming a licensed psychologist in the state can take a long time, but if you are willing to devote around a decade to meet the requirements, the payoff could be worth it, especially if you plan to practice in a high-paying state like California.
What are the tests I need to take to get a psychology license in California and are there additional requirements besides the tests?
The California Board of Psychology requires you to take two exams to become licensed. These tests are the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is required in every state, and the California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE), which is specific to California. Before getting your license, you will have to show proof of coursework in human sexuality; alcohol/chemical dependency detection and treatment; child abuse assessment; spousal or partner abuse assessment; aging and long-term care training; and suicide risk assessment and intervention.
How much do psychologists in California make?
The average annual wage for industrial-organizational, clinical, counseling, school, and all other psychologists in California was $113,655 as of May 2021.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers in the state earned an average of $114,950 a year.1
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, California: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Clinical and Counseling Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193033.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, School Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193034.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193032.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Psychologists, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193039.htm
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251066.htm
7. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm