North Carolina Psychology Licensure Requirements

In North Carolina, psychology licenses are issued through the North Carolina Psychology Board. To obtain a license to practice psychology, you will need to complete certain educational requirements, submit an application to the Board, acquire supervised post-doctoral clinical experience, and pass a national exam and a state exam. Because this can be a complex process, we’ve provided instructions below to help you navigate it. On this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to obtaining a psychology license in North Carolina. This includes some of the most commonly asked questions about becoming licensed, such as:

» How do I become a psychologist in North Carolina?
» I have earned a PhD or PsyD and I am ready to learn how to get a psychologist license in North Carolina.
» What are North Carolina’s supervised professional experience rules and regulations?
» What psychology exams are required in North Carolina?
» How do I become licensed in North Carolina by reciprocity?
» Can I become licensed with a master’s degree in North Carolina?
» How do I renew my psychology license in North Carolina?
» How much do psychologists in North Carolina make?

Three Steps to Becoming a Psychologist in North Carolina

Although becoming a psychologist in North Carolina might seem overwhelming at first, our guide can help you through this process. To become a psychologist in North Carolina, there are three main steps you will need to take. First, you will need to obtain an undergraduate degree and may choose to also complete a master’s degree in psychology. Following this, you will need to complete a doctoral program in psychology. Various psychology schools in North Carolina offer programs for each step of the education process. After you have met these requirements, you should be eligible to begin the licensure process in North Carolina.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree and (optionally) a master’s degree in psychology.

Once you have decided that you would like to become a psychologist, the first step is to complete a bachelor’s degree. These usually require four years of full-time enrollment and completing about 120 credit hours of study. As you might expect, many psychologists major in psychology while completing this degree, but you can also study other related areas, such as social work, or any other subject as long as you are prepared to take additional coursework (such as psychology or statistics courses) before being admitted into a graduate program. Some schools award Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees to psychology majors, while others award Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees. Either of these degrees is a good path toward a graduate program in psychology.

After completing your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to complete a master’s degree in psychology. To be accepted into one of these programs, you will likely need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in addition to meeting any educational prerequisites.

Although the length of master’s degree programs can vary, they usually require about two years of full-time study and 35-45 credit hours. You can choose to apply to generalist master’s degree programs in psychology (which will cover a variety of psychology-related topics) or you can apply to programs in specialized areas of study (such as clinical psychology or school psychology). Depending on the program you complete, you may earn either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degree. Some psychologists choose not to enroll in a stand-alone master’s degree program, and instead earn this degree as part of the doctoral training program (see Step 2).

2. Earn a PsyD or PhD in psychology.

After completing a bachelor’s degree (and a master’s degree, if you choose), you will need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. Depending on the program, students may earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) or a Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD). If you are unsure about the differences between these degrees, know that PhD programs include a strong research component, while PsyD programs emphasize this less. For more information on the differences, read the American Psychological Association’s (APA) explanation here. However, students in both PhD and PsyD programs complete a thesis and a dissertation as part of their degree requirements.

Doctoral degrees in psychology usually take four to seven years to complete. To be licensed in North Carolina, you must have earned your degree from a program that is accredited by the APA or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), or one with comparable requirements. These programs must involve at least three full-time years of study, with at least one year completed in-person at the school. Although there are many different areas of specialization at the doctoral level, only graduates of programs in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, or combined professional-scientific psychology are eligible to become licensed psychologists in North Carolina. For a list of programs to consider, please visit our Psychology Schools in North Carolinapage.

3. Get licensed to practice psychology in North Carolina.

Although meeting the educational requirements for licensure can take many years, there are still some more steps to take before you can be granted a psychology license and start putting all your training into practice! Below are details about each step of licensure in North Carolina.

North Carolina Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Submit your application for a provisional license to the North Carolina Psychology Board.

To start the licensure process, you’ll need to complete and submit an Application Form. This form will ask you to provide information about your education and clinical training, as well as contact information for three professional references. You will also need to complete a Supervision Contract Form that provides information about whether or not you are still earning supervised experience and who your supervisors are. Please note that both of these forms will need to be notarized.

In addition to these two forms, you will need to go to a law enforcement agency to have your fingerprints taken and complete a Release of Information Form so that the Board can conduct a background check.

After you have gathered these materials, you will need to send them all in one envelope to the North Carolina Psychology Board. The application fee at this stage is $100, and you will need to pay an additional $38 fee for the background check. During this step, you will also want to contact your graduate school(s) and have all of your transcripts sent directly to the Board.

If you have already completed all of your supervised experience (see Step 3 for these requirements) at the time that you are submitting your first application for licensure in North Carolina, you can apply for a permanent license rather than a provisional one. However, it is optional to obtain these hours before this step. If you are submitting an application for a permanent license, you will also need to submit a completed Application for Health Services Provider Form and an additional $50 fee.

2. Pass the North Carolina psychology licensing exams.

After the North Carolina Psychology Board receives your application, they will review it and let you know if you meet their requirements and are approved to take the licensing exams. The first exam you will need to take is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This is a 225-item, multiple-choice test that assesses broad knowledge of psychology, and you need a scaled score of 500 or higher to pass the exam. The fee for the EPPP is $650, and you will need to pay an additional fee to the testing center when you register to take the exam.

The second exam you will need to take is the North Carolina State Examination. This is a 50-item, multiple choice test that assesses knowledge of state and national psychology laws and ethics. You need to answer at least 78% of the questions correctly to pass the North Carolina State Examination, and the fee for the test is $200. After you have completed all the steps above and your exam scores have been released to the North Carolina Psychology Board, the Board will notify you when you have earned your provisional license.

3. Complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience in the practice of psychology.

To earn a permanent psychologist license in North Carolina, you’ll need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience in the practice of psychology. Of the 3,000 total hours required, at least 1,500 must be completed after you’ve finished your doctoral degree. Additionally, at least 25% of these hours must be directly related to working with patients, which includes activities such as conducting therapy, making diagnoses, and administering psychological assessments. While you are earning these hours, you will also need to meet with a licensed psychologist for at least two hours each week for supervision. Many doctoral programs end with one full year of supervised experience, so you are likely to have already completed half of these hours by the time you graduate and apply for a provisional license.

4. Apply to convert your provisional license to a permanent one.

Once you have finished your 3,000 supervised hours, you can submit an application to convert your provisional license to a permanent one, along with an Application for Health Services Provider Form and a $50 fee. All of the information for converting your provisional license to a permanent one can be found here.

5. Receive your license from the Board.

The Board will notify you when your permanent license has been granted. Note that this step is not needed if you initially obtained a permanent license instead of a provisional one.

North Carolina Licensure by Reciprocity

North Carolina does not technically have reciprocity with any other states, meaning that if you are licensed as a psychologist in another state, you cannot automatically transfer your license to North Carolina. However, if you meet all the criteria for licensure in North Carolina and you have previously passed the EPPP, it should be relatively easy to become licensed. To do this, you will need to fill out a licensure application form ($100), submit to a background check ($38), and complete the Application for Health Services Provider Form ($50). Once these have been reviewed and approved, you will also need to take North Carolina State Examination ($200).

Licensed Psychological Associate

If you’re not sure if a doctoral-level psychology career is for you, but you’re still interested in practicing psychology, there is another option available. North Carolina allows graduates of some master’s programs to apply to become Licensed Psychological Associates. To be eligible, you will need to have completed a master’s degree in psychology in a program that requires at least 45 semester credit hours and 500 hours of supervised experience. To become a Licensed Psychological Associate, you will still need to take the North Carolina State Examination and will need to obtain a scaled score of at least 440 on the EPPP. Licensed Psychological Associates are required to be supervised by a licensed psychologist for many of their clinical activities.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Information

To keep your North Carolina psychology license active, you’ll need to apply to have it renewed every two years. Applications for renewal are always due by the first day of October in even-numbered years, and you’ll have to pay a $250 fee. To be eligible for renewal, you must have completed at least 18 continuing education (CE) hours within the past two years. At least nine of these CE hours have to be earned through formally organized events or online courses, and three CE hours have to involve education in ethical and legal issues. If you earn more CE credits than you need in a two-year period, you cannot transfer them over to the next period. The North Carolina Psychology Board provides a list of resources to help psychologists understand CE requirements and find eligible CE programming.

North Carolina Psychology Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly salary for psychologists in the state of North Carolina (clinical, counseling, school, and “all other” psychologists) is $83,6609.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earn an average of $77,150 per year.1 Although there are no projections available for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, the number of “all other” psychologist positions in North Carolina is expected to increase within the next decade, with a projected growth of about 7% between 2016 and 2026.2

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists2,990$75,970
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN/AN/A
Psychologists, All Other300$91,350
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary1,160$77,150

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.1 Statistics for your locale may vary within this state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a psychologist in North Carolina?

Becoming a psychologist in North Carolina can take a long time–you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees after that. In total, this might take 10 years or longer. However, psychology can be an incredibly rewarding career with a good salary, and the number of jobs available is expected to grow over the next 10 years.

What degree do I need to be a licensed psychologist in North Carolina?

To become a licensed psychologist in North Carolina, you will need to earn either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. In addition, you’ll need to earn these from a program that specializes in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, or combined professional-scientific psychology.

How much do psychologists in North Carolina make?

The average psychologist salary, excluding teachers, in North Carolina is $83,660.1 Specifically, practicing psychologists (clinical, counseling, and school psychologists) have an average salary of $75,970.1 Psychologists in the “all other” category, which includes psychologists who work in research and administrative positions, make an average of $90,760 per year.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers have an average salary of $77,150.1

Additional Resources

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): https://www.projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm