Tennessee Psychology Licensure Requirements
In Tennessee, psychology licenses are issued by the Board of Examiners of Psychology. To become a psychologist in Tennessee, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree, obtain a doctoral degree in psychology, complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours, and pass national and state exams. This process can be complicated and time-consuming, so we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to help you get through it. On this page you will find detailed information about each step of the process of becoming a licensed psychologist in Tennessee, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, such as:
» How do I become a psychologist in Tennessee?
» I have earned a PhD or PsyD and I am ready to learn how to get a psychologist license in Tennessee.
» What are Tennessee’s supervised professional experience rules and regulations?
» What psychology exams are required in Tennessee?
» I am already a licensed psychologist in another state; how do I become licensed in Tennessee by reciprocity?
» Can I become licensed in psychology in Tennessee with only a master’s degree?
» How do I renew my psychology license in Tennessee?
» How much do psychologists in Tennessee make?
Three Steps to Becoming a Psychologist in Tennessee
The first step to becoming a licensed psychologist in Tennessee is to complete a bachelor’s degree. Both Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees will count towards the educational requirements for graduate programs in psychology. A bachelor’s degree will take approximately four years of full-time attendance (about 120 credit hours), and it is not necessary for you to major in psychology.
After you finish your bachelor’s degree, you might choose to complete a stand-alone master’s degree in psychology. There are many different types of master’s degree programs in psychology, and some award Master of Arts (MA) degrees while others award Master of Science (MS) degrees. Earning a stand-alone master’s degree is not a required step, and most students who attend doctoral programs in psychology earn a master’s degree during their studies. However, it can be helpful if you did not major in psychology for your bachelor’s degree or if you want to get more experience in psychology before committing to a doctoral program. To be admitted into a master’s degree program, you will likely need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and may be asked to complete other educational requirements. These programs typically take about two years to complete (35-45 credit hours). In some circumstances, you can provide certain psychology services in Tennessee with a stand-alone master’s degree as a Certified Psychological Assistant (see information on this option below).
2. Earn a PsyD or PhD in psychology.
After you have completed a bachelor’s degree (and a master’s degree, if you choose), the next required step is to complete a doctoral degree in psychology, which usually takes four to seven years. There are two types of doctoral degrees in psychology: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. If you are unsure which type of program you would like to attend, please visit the American Psychological Association’s (APA) page describing the differences between these degrees.
In Tennessee, an applicant for psychology licensure must have received their degree from a doctoral program that is either American Psychological Association (APA)-accredited or has been designated as an approved program by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). Applicants who are seeking designation as a Health Service Provider (HSP) must have attended a clinical, counseling, school, or combined doctoral program. If you are attending one of these programs, one of your years of training will consist of a formal internship. Be sure to check that any internship programs you apply to will allow you to earn 1,900 hours of supervised experience, as this is required for Tennessee licensure (see the section on supervised hours requirements below).
For more information about doctoral programs in Tennessee, please see our Psychology Schools in Tennessee page.
3. Get licensed to practice psychology in Tennessee.
After completing a doctoral program, there are a few more steps to take in order to obtain a psychologist license in Tennessee. If you are planning to provide health services to clients (e.g., therapy or assessment), you will need to apply for a psychology license with an HSP designation. To obtain this license, you will need to submit an application to the Board, complete a certain number of supervised postdoctoral hours, and pass national and state exams. Each of these steps is described in more detail below.
If you do not plan to provide health services, you can apply for a licensure without the HSP designation (see the Other Psychology Licenses section below).
Tennessee Psychologist Licensing Process
1. Submit an application for licensure to the Board.
The first step for all applicants is to submit an application for licensure. You can complete this application through the Board’s online portal or you can print and mail in Tennessee’s Psychologist Application. Be sure to indicate that you are applying for HSP designation (if you do not want HSP designation, see the instructions below.
The application includes a checklist of supplemental materials you will need to complete. These materials include two signed passport-style photos, a criminal background check, the Declaration of Citizenship Form, the Mandatory Practitioner Profile, three letters of recommendation, and a letter from your internship director. You will also need to request that transcripts for all of your graduate courses be sent to the Board. When you submit your application for licensure, you will need to pay a total of $485 in fees. These include an application fee ($175), a licensure fee ($200) a state regulatory fee ($10), and a fee for your state exam ($100; see Step 3 below).
If you are obtaining your postdoctoral supervised professional experience (see Step 2) in Tennessee, you may also be required to hold a provisional license. To determine if you need this license, ask your supervisor or training director at your postdoctoral site whether they have an agreement with the Board that their students do not need provisional licenses (this may be the case in APA-approved or similar programs). If they do not have this agreement in place, you will need to apply for a provisional license along with your initial application.
To obtain a provisional license, you will need to submit some additional documents, which are included in the Psychologist Application. Some of these forms must be completed by your postdoctoral supervisor(s) to describe your expected postdoctoral experiences. You will also need to submit an additional fee for the provisional license ($125). Once your provisional license has been granted, it will be valid for one year, but you can contact the Board to request an extension if you do not earn all of your SPE hours during this year.
Note that if you are not completing your postdoctoral hours in Tennessee or if your program has an agreement with the Board that their trainees do not need provisional licenses, you do not need to request provisional licensure.
2. Gain two years of supervised professional experience (SPE) in your area of training.
In Tennessee, you are required to complete 3,800 hours of supervised professional experience (SPE). 1,900 of these hours must be earned during your internship, which will have been completed as part of your doctoral program. Another 1,900 hours must be earned after you have completed your doctoral degree (postdoctoral hours). In Tennessee, you must receive at least one hour of supervision per week while you are earning your postdoctoral hours, and you must be supervised by a licensed psychologist.
If you are required to obtain a provisional license (see Step 1), you must wait for it to be issued before beginning your postdoctoral hours. If you do not need a provisional license, you can begin earning these hours at any time after you complete your doctoral degree.
You will need to notify the Board when you have completed all 3,800 hours of SPE. To document these hours, your supervisors will need to complete the Verification of Predoctoral Internship and Postdoctoral Supervised Experience forms that are included in the Psychologist Application.
3. Pass the Tennessee psychology licensing exams.
There are two exams that you will need to pass before earning your license. The first of these is the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), a 225-item multiple-choice test that assesses general knowledge of psychology. After the Board has reviewed your licensure application from Step 1, they will notify you when you have been approved to take the EPPP (this may be done while you are still completing your SPE). To register for the EPPP, you will need to pay a $600 examination fee as well as a fee of $87.50 to the testing center where you are taking the exam. To pass the EPPP, you must earn a scaled score of 500 or higher.
After you have successfully completed the EPPP, the Board will notify you by mail that you are eligible to take Tennessee’s ethics and jurisprudence exam. This is an open-book, two-hour exam on legal and ethical standards relevant to the practice of psychology in Tennessee. To pass this exam, you must earn a score of 90% or higher.
4. Wait for notification that your full license has been issued.
After you have completed and reported your postdoctoral hours as well as passed the state and national exams, all you need to do is wait for notification from the Board that your application is complete. The Board will contact you to let you know when your full license has been issued.
Tennessee Licensure by Reciprocity
If you are licensed in another state, you may be able to obtain a license in Tennessee through reciprocity. To do this, you will need to complete Tennessee’s Psychologist Application and provide proof of a passing EPPP score, valid licensure in another state, and completion of the required 3,800 SPE hours. You will need to pay a total of $485 in fees when you submit your application. If the Board reviews your application and determines that you meet the criteria for licensure by reciprocity, you will also be asked to complete the ethics and jurisprudence exam to obtain your license in Tennessee.
Psychologist License without HSP Designation
If you have earned a doctoral degree from an approved program but do not plan to provide health services, you can apply for psychology licensure without the HSP designation. This license will allow you to work as a psychologist in non-clinical jobs such as teaching. To apply for a psychology license without HSP designation, you will need to complete the Psychologist Application and pay $485 in fees. You are not required to complete any supervised professional experience, but you will need to complete the EPPP as well as the ethics and jurisprudence exam.
Certified Psychological Assistant
If you are not sure that you want to complete a doctoral degree, another option is to pursue a Certified Psychological Assistant license. Individuals with this license can administer psychological assessments under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. To be eligible for this license, you must have completed a master’s degree in psychology that includes training in administration and interpretation of psychological tests. To apply for this license, you will need to complete the Application for Certification as a Psychological Assistant. You will also need to pay a total of $335 in fees with this application.
Licensing Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Information
After your Tennessee psychologist license has been issued, you will need to renew it every two years. This can be done through the online portal and you will need to pay a fee of $225.
To be eligible for license renewal, you will need to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) credits. These credits must be obtained between January 1 and December 31 in the two calendar years prior to your renewal year.
Tennessee has a number of laws outlining the type of CE credits that are eligible to count towards CE requirements. CEs may be designated as Type I (coming from APA-approved organizations), Type II (other structured educational experiences) or Type III (less structured educational experiences). Of the 40 required CE credits, nine hours must come from Type I programs, another nine hours must come from Type I or II programs, and the remaining 22 credits can come from Type I, II, or III programs. Additionally, three hours of the required 40 must involve education in cultural diversity and another three hours must involve education in state and national ethical and legal standards. If you earn more hours in a renewal period than you require, you cannot transfer them to the next period.
Because the rules surrounding CE credits in Tennessee can be somewhat complicated, please be sure to check the Board’s rules on continuing education, or contact the Board directly if you are not sure whether an activity is eligible.
Tennessee Psychology Jobs and Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average psychologist salary in Tennessee, excluding teachers, earns $80,215 per year.1 Specifically, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn an average yearly salary of $71,340, while psychologists falling in the “all other” category earn an average annual salary of $89,090.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earn an average yearly salary of $68,290.1
Across all categories of psychologists, the number of psychology jobs in Tennessee is expected to increase by an average of 5% between 2016 and 20262. The highest amount of growth is anticipated in the field of clinical, counseling, and school psychology, in which jobs are expected to increase by 14% during this time period.2
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||1,750||$71,340|
|Psychologists, All Other||210||$89,090|
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary||670||$68,290|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.1
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a psychologist in Tennessee?
To become a licensed psychologist in Tennessee, most candidates will earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree, and will also need to complete at least one year of supervised postdoctoral experience. This entire process generally takes around 10 years to complete, but can be longer depending on a variety of factors.
What degree do I need to be a licensed psychologist in Tennessee?
To become a licensed psychologist in Tennessee, you will need to earn either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree.
How much do psychologists in Tennessee make?
The average psychologist salary in Tennessee (excluding educators) is $80,215.1 Specifically, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists make an average of $71,340 per year; postsecondary psychology teachers make an average of $68,290 per year; and psychologists in the “all other” category make an average of $89,090 per year.1
- Tennessee Psychological Association (TPA) – Association for psychologists in the state of Tennessee; includes information on CE programs.
- Tennessee Board of Examiners of Psychology – Government organization that oversees psychology licensure in Tennessee.
- Tennessee Association of School Psychologists (TASP) – Organization promoting and advocating for the practice of school psychology in Tennessee.
- American Psychological Association (APA) – National organization for psychologists; contains information on conferences, CEs, and other relevant resources.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Tennessee: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tn.htm
2. Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm