California Psychology Licensure Requirements

Becoming licensed to practice psychology in California requires dedication and determination in order to complete years of education and training. The California Board of Psychology and the Psychology Licensing Law are in place to define and protect the title of “Psychologist” and the practice of psychology. The psychology licensing process starts with education and culminates with an approved application for psychology licensure. Here are the primary questions and scenarios for prospective California psychologists:

» How do I become a Psychologist in California?
» I have earned a PhD or PsyD and I am ready to learn how to get a Psychologist License in California.
» Why does California require fingerprinting and criminal background checks to become a licensed Psychologist?
» What are California’s Supervised Professional Experience Rules and Regulations?
» What Psychology Exams are required in California?

Three Steps to Become a Psychologist in California

Regardless of where you are on the path to become a psychologist in California, Psychology Degree 411 can help you take the next step:

1. Earn a BS in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Psychology. With a comprehensive list of California psychology degree programs offered throughout the state, Psychology Degree 411 is one of the best resources for researching California psychology schools.

2. Earn a PsyD or PhD in Psychology. A doctorate in psychology or educational psychology is required to practice psychology in every state in the United States, including California. Licensed psychologists may also obtain an education degree from an accredited college or university specializing in educational psychology or counseling psychology.

Refer to our list of PhD or PsyD programs offered in California. Because of the high number of PsyD and PhD programs offered across the state, many of which are regarded as among the best in the nation, California is an excellent place to complete the education requirements for earning psychologist licensure.

3. Get Licensed to Practice Psychology in California. In order to practice psychology in California, PhD or PsyD degree holders must complete California’s licensure requirements. The sections below explain how:

California Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Complete a Background Check and Fingerprint Procedures.

Due to the important role psychologists play in people’s lives, the DOJ and the FBI must provide clearance before California’s Board of Psychology can issue a license. This background check ensures the applicant is qualified based on having a clean criminal history relative to performing the duties and functions of a psychologist.

Applicants who have never been licensed or registered with the California Board of Psychology must have their fingerprints scanned to check for any criminal history with Live Scan. This will require a visit to a Live Scan site. You can find a complete list of California Live Scan fingerprint scanning service locations through the California Department of Justice. Contact the Live Scan provider in advance to make sure their operating hours and fees are current. Applicants must make an appointment at some Live Scan sites, while others allow walk-ins.

Using Live Scan technology is highly recommended. However, if applicants are unable to make an appointment with a California Live Scan site or if there isn’t a location nearby, call (916) 574-7720 to contact the California Board of Psychology’s Licensing Desk or email bopmail@dca.ca.gov to have fingerprint cards sent by mail.

After the fingerprint scan, applicants must submit Part 2 of the Live Scan form with their application. For more details and information, visit the California Board of Psychology’s fingerprint procedure guide.

2. Complete Supervised Professional Experience (SPE) Requirements.

All psychology trainees, both pre- and post-doctoral, are required to gain professional experience in a supervised, clinical setting. SPE is an organized program that is planned, structured, and administered to deliver a logical training sequence that prepares trainees for independent, licensed psychology practice in California.

SPE should integrate current psychological concepts and evolving scientific principles and theories, while including mentoring, role modeling, didactic exposure, observational/vicarious learning, enactment, and consultative guidance.

Pursuant to section 2914(c) of the State of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs Laws and Regulations Relating to the Practice of Psychology 2012, two years (3,000 hours) of qualifying professional experience must be completed and officially documented prior to approved licensure. Each SPE year must be fulfilled consecutively within a thirty month period and if the both years of SPE are completed postdoctorally, they must be performed within a sixty month period.

Review the complete rules and regulations, as well as any changes in the law, regarding professional experience requirements in California.

Predoctoral Professional Experience Requirements:
Up to 1,500 hours may be completed as predoctoral professional experience, but only after 48 semester or 72 quarter units of graduate coursework in psychology (not including thesis, dissertation, or internship) have been completed.

SPE may be completed in a formal predoctoral psychology internship that is compliant with and accredited by the American Psychological Association or an internship that is with a member of the California Psychology Internship Council or the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. Refer to sections 2909, 2910 and 2913 as well as 5751.2 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code to learn about a few other ways to gain predoctoral SPE in California.

Postdoctoral Professional Experience Requirements:
A minimum of 1,500 hours of postdoctoral SPE must be accrued after the date of which all requirements of the postdoctoral degree was met as certified by the Dean or Registrar of the educational institution or by the doctoral program’s director of training. All postdoctoral SPE must be accrued on or after the date of January 1, 2006.

With only a few exceptions identified in the code (sections 2909(d), 2910, 2913, and 5751.2 of Welfare and Institutions Code), postdoctoral SPE needs to be completed in a training program accredited by the APA or with an organization that is a member of the APPIC or CAPIC.

Verification of Required Experience:
Use the California Psych Board’s mandated Supervision Agreement and Verification Form to facilitate and simplify communication between trainees and supervisors. This agreement form or an equivalent form is required to be verified by the supervisor and the trainee prior to SPE. When the form is completed, the supervisor must sign, it preferably in blue ink, and send it directly to:

California Board of Psychology
1625 N Market Blvd Ste N-215
Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone: (916) 574-7720
Fax: (916) 574-8672
Toll Free Number: 1-866-503-3221

3. Pass Two California Psychology Licensing Exams.

California Psychology Licensing Law mandates all applicants to take and pass two examinations:

EPPP – The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology is a 225 multiple-choice national exam that is computer administered at testing sites across the United States. A scaled score of 500 is the pass point. Candidates are encouraged sign up to take the EPPP practice exam. After applying for licensure in their jurisdiction, applicants may register for the EPPP, which was developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and is administered continually at Prometrics testing sites throughout California.

CPSE – The California Psychology Supplemental Examination is a 100 multiple choice question exam with 25 pretest questions. The pretest questions are not scored. Developed by California’s Board of Psychology, the CPSE is administered at Psychological Services Inc. testing sites across the State of California. The CPSE Fact Sheet shows the topics covered and scoring weights, as well as time requirements and other details.

Refer to the California Psychology Examination Request Form for information regarding payment and to request the proper examination.

For complete details and waiver information, please refer to the California Psychology Board’s exam overview.

4. Submit an Application for Psychologist Licensure in California

Applicants should do a final check of California’s psychology licensure requirements, fees, and transcript evaluation procedures prior to submitting their application.

After all requirements have been fulfilled, the Application for Licensure as a Psychologist in California needs to be filled out and mailed to:

Board of Psychology – Licensing Department
1625 North Market Blvd, Suite N-215
Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone (916-574-7720)
Fax (916-574-8672)

Additional Requirements and Information

The California psych board provides complete instructions for the psychology licensure process in California, including when to apply, transcripts, fees, and additional requirements for the following:

  • Human Sexuality requirement
  • Child Abuse Coursework requirement
  • Detection and Treatment of Alcohol and other Chemical Substance Dependency requirement
    Spousal/Partner Abuse Detection, Assessment, and Intervention requirement
    Aging and Long Term Care requirement
  • Instructions for applicants with Foreign Degrees and Canadian Degrees
  • Expedited Licensure for Spouses/Domestic Partners of Active Duty Military Personnel
    Waiver of the EPPP and the CPSE

1. California Board of Psychology: http://www.psychology.ca.gov/