North Carolina Psychology Licensure Requirements
In North Carolina, psychology licenses are issued through the North Carolina Psychology Board (the Board). To obtain a license to practice psychology, you will need to complete certain educational requirements, 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 this step-by-step guide to obtaining a psychology license in North Carolina.
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
- License Renewal and Continuing Education
How to Become a Psychologist 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.
After completing your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to complete a master’s degree in psychology. Although the length of psychology master’s degree programs can vary, they usually require about two years of full-time study and 30 to 40 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). Some psychologists choose not to enroll in a stand-alone master’s degree program and instead earn this degree as part of their doctoral training program. In North Carolina, it is also possible to become a licensed psychological associate with a master’s degree in psychology. To qualify for licensure, the program must consist of at least 45 semester credit hours and 500 hours of supervised experience.
2. Earn a doctoral degree 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, see our home page. 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 between 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 American Psychological Association (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. Up to 1,500 hours of the supervised professional experience required for licensure can be gained during a doctoral internship or experience.
For a list of programs to consider, please visit our Psychology Schools in North Carolina page.
3. Submit your application for a provisional license to the Board.
To start the licensure process, you’ll need to complete and submit an application form to become a psychological associate. 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 be fingerprinted and complete a background check.You will also need to submit three professional reference forms and a supervisor form for each direct supervisor, along with a transmittal form detailing your application documents.
After you have gathered these materials, you will need to send them all in one envelope to the 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 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 Health Services Provider (HSP) Application form and an additional $50 fee. Alternatively, you will submit this when you convert your temporary license to a permanent one.
4. Pass the North Carolina psychology licensing exams.
After the 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) from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. (ASPPB). 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 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 this exam, 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 Board, they will notify you when you have earned your provisional license.
5. Complete two years of supervised experience in the practice of psychology.
To earn a permanent psychologist license in North Carolina, you’ll need to complete 3,000 total 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. You will record your experience using the supervised experience form.
6. 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 health services provider (HSP) application form and a $50 fee. All of the information for converting your provisional license to a permanent one can be found here.
7. Receive your license from the Board.
The Board will notify you when your permanent license has been granted.
North Carolina Licensure by Reciprocity
North Carolina does not technically have reciprocity with any other state, 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 the state and you have previously passed the EPPP, it should be relatively easy to become licensed. To do this, you will need to fill out an application form ($100), submit to a background check ($38), and complete the HSP application ($50). Once these have been reviewed and approved, you will also need to take the North Carolina State Examination ($200).
License Renewal and Continuing Education
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 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 Board provides a list of resources to help psychologists understand CE requirements and find eligible CE programming.
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 as 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 psychological associate, you will still need to take the state exam and 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.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) issues Initial Professional Educator’s Licenses to school psychologists, who are considered special service personnel. In order to qualify for licensure, you must have completed an approved program in school psychology at the sixth-year level (Educational Specialist degree) and pass the Praxis exam in school psychology. You can apply through the NCDPI Online License System and submit all transcripts, exam results, current out-of-state educator’s license (if applicable), the Verification by Institution form, and experience request forms for previous work experience. You must also pay the licensure fee upon submission of your application. For more information, see the Board’s website.
North Carolina Psychologist Jobs and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly salary for psychologists in the state of North Carolina (excluding educators) is $82,267.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earn an average of $80,960 per year.1 Projections Central predicts growth of 10.2% for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists between 2020 and 2030. The number of “all other” psychologist positions is expected to increase 8.9%; industrial-organizational psychologists are expected to grow by 5.3%; and postsecondary psychologist teaching positions are expected to grow by 9.6% between 2020 and 2030.2
|Occupation||Number Employed1||Average Annual Salary1|
|Clinical and Counseling Psychologists||1,930||$94,480|
|Psychologists, All Other||500||$87,210|
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary||910||$80,960|
- North Carolina Psychological Association (NCPA): Helps advocate for and advance the profession of psychology through networking with other psychology professionals in North Carolina and offering CE opportunities.
- North Carolina School Psychology Association (NCSPA): Organization designed to advance the field of school psychology in North Carolina and provide resources for school psychologists.
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 salary for psychologists in North Carolina, excluding teachers, is $82,267.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers have an average salary of $80,960.1
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm