Pennsylvania Psychology Licensure Requirements

Licensed psychologists in Pennsylvania are regulated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology and the corresponding sections of the state Pennsylvania Code. The purpose of the State Board of Psychology is to ensure that all licensed psychologists are adequately trained and fit to practice. The State Board is also tasked with issuing and promulgating the Code of Ethics for psychologists practicing in the state. To become a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, candidates must complete years of education and work experience before applying to the State Board for a license. Common questions that candidates have about this process include:

» What is the procedure for becoming a Psychologist in Pennsylvania?
» What is the next step after earning a PhD or PsyD to get a Psychologist License in Pennsylvania?
» How do I complete the required criminal and child abuse history checks?
» What Post Doctoral Experience is required in Pennsylvania?
» What exam(s) do I need to take to become licensed to practice psychology in Pennsylvania?

Three Steps to Become a Psychologist in Pennsylvania

1. Complete a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Psychology.

The process to become a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania begins with earning your undergraduate degree in psychology. Either a BS or a BA may fit the requirements for your education track; according to the American Psychological Association, the coursework for the two degrees may be substantially similar depending on the program.

The next step is to earn a master’s degree in psychology, which is required for admission to most doctoral psychology degree programs. Psychology Degree 411 has a comprehensive list of schools that provide psychology programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels that you can use as a reference for your planned educational path.

2. Earn a Doctoral Degree.

As in most other states, Pennsylvania requires candidates for a psychology license to have a doctoral degree in psychology or a field related to psychology.1 Candidates for psychology licensure in Pennsylvania who begin their doctoral program on or after July 1, 2008 should be enrolled in a program accredited by the American Psychological Association or designated by Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)/National Register Designation Project.

Candidates whose programs are not so accredited may be able to complete supplemental education to improve any deficient areas identified by the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology through a program that is accredited by one of the above designating bodies, as provided for in Section 41.31 of the Pennsylvania Code.

3. Apply for Licensure to Practice Psychology in Pennsylvania.

After graduating with a doctoral degree and accumulating post-doctoral experience, you may be prepared to start practicing right away. However, there are still a few more steps that are required to practice as a licensed psychologist. The examination and licensure process in Pennsylvania is thorough, but prepared candidates may be better equipped to navigate the requirements for obtaining a license to practice psychology.

Pennsylvania Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Begin Postdoctoral Supervised Experience.

To become licensed as a psychologist in Pennsylvania, candidates must complete one year or 1,750 hours of postdoctoral supervised experience. This experience must be accrued by working at least 15 hours but no more than 45 hours per week.1 Candidates have up to 10 years from earning their doctoral degree to complete the experience requirements.1

The experience counted towards the postdoctoral supervised experience requirements outlined in Section 41.32 of the Pennsylvania Code must be related to the candidate’s education and previous training, and must be earned under the supervision of a currently licensed and qualified primary supervisor, who in addition to supervising should also discuss practice and ethics issues with the candidate.

2. Apply to Sit for the Psychology Licensing Examinations.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for psychology licensure can sit for the required Examination for Professional Practice In Psychology and the Pennsylvania Psychology Law Examination before completing their post doctoral internship or experience. Applicants who choose this route should complete the Application to Request Approval to Sit for the Psychology Licensing Examinations form that aligns with the dates on which the candidate began his or her doctoral program and post doctoral work.

Applicants who are applying for approval to sit for the psychology licensing examinations after completing the required post doctoral experience should complete the version of the Application to Request Approval to Sit for the Psychology Licensing Examinations/Application for License to Practice Psychology that matches the dates by which the candidate began his or her post doctoral experience.

3. Take the Pennsylvania Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and the Pennsylvania Psychology Law Exam.

The Pennsylvania Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is the first exam that candidates for a psychologist’s license must pass. This test is created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and administered by Prometric, a testing vendor. The content covers eight core areas of psychology practice and understanding measured through a multiple choice format. Practice tests are available to prospective examinees. After applying for licensure with Pennsylvania, candidates can register to take the EPPP.

The Pennsylvania Psychology Law Exam (PPLE) is administered by a contracted provider, Professional Credential Services, Inc. This test consists of 30 multiple choice questions to be completed within one hour based on content in the State Board of Psychology, Act 52 of 1986 and the Pennsylvania Code, Title 49, Professional & Vocational Standards, Department of State, Chapter 41, State Board of Psychology. Candidates will be instructed by the State Board on how to register for the PPLE through an Authorization Letter after review of the licensure application. More information on exam dates and sites is available through the Professional Credential Services, Inc. website.

4. Forward Official Transcripts For Graduate Work for Your Graduate Degree to the State Board.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology requires that prospective licensees provide proof of graduate work in the form of official transcripts from an accredited college or university. In most cases, official transcripts for undergraduate work are not requested.

5. Request a Criminal History Records Information Report from the Pennsylvania State Police.

Applicants for a psychologist’s license must provide a Criminal History Record Information Report (CHRI) dated from within 90 days of the date of initial application. Pennsylvania residents can request the CHRI from the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) system maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police. Applicants who do not live within Pennsylvania should request a criminal history report from the law enforcement agency that holds jurisdiction where the applicant lives.

6. Request a Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Public Welfare.

Like the criminal history records information report, applicants must forward a complete child abuse history clearance form (Form CY 113) dated from within 90 days of the initial application for a psychologist’s license to the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology.1

7. Provide Verification of Your Post Doctoral Experience or Internship.

Applicants are required to provide verification of internships completed that include a job description for the duties and responsibilities undertaken during the internship to verify compliance with the Pennsylvania Code for psychology licensure.

As provided in Pennsylvania Code Section 41.30, the primary supervisors for the post doctoral experience must also provide a Verification of Post Doctoral Experience form and quarterly evaluations completed during the experience, as well as the supervisor’s opinion on the candidate’s potential for a psychology career. The Verification of Post Doctoral Experience form is included in the license and exam application packets on the State Board of Psychology Licensure Information website.

Additional Requirements and Information

You can find additional information on the licensure process and rules and regulations for psychologists in Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology website as well as required fees and additional information including:

  • Child Abuse Reporting Requirements
  • Waiver of Examination Petitions
  • Areas of acceptable practice in accordance with training and demonstrated ability
  • Guidelines for transferring licensure for psychologists licensed in other states
  • Information on private practice for certified school psychologists
  • Continuing Education and License Renewal

1. The Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 41. State Board of Psychology: https://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter41/chap41toc.html
2. American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/about/faq.aspx#preparing
3. Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology: http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Psychology/Pages/default.aspx#.VP8yEPzF_ws
4. Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards: http://www.asppb.net/
5. Professional Credential Services, Inc. Candidate Information Bulletin: https://www.pcshq.com/?page=ppsycib061010.pdf
6. Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History System: https://epatch.state.pa.us/RecordCheckHome.jsp
7. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home