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Tennessee Psychology Licensure Requirements

In Tennessee, psychology licenses are issued by the Board of Examiners of Psychology (the Board). To become a psychologist in Tennessee, you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology, supervised professional experience, 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.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Licensed Psychologist
Licensure by Endorsement
Related Licenses
License Renewal and Continuing Education
Jobs and Salary Information
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

How to Become a Psychologist in Tennessee

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

The first step to becoming a licensed psychologist in Tennessee is to complete a bachelor’s degree. 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. However, if your undergraduate degree is in psychology or a closely related field, you may be able to enter a graduate program without having to complete any additional prerequisites.

After finishing a bachelor’s degree, some prospective psychologists choose to complete a stand-alone master’s degree in psychology. 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. These programs typically take about two years to complete (35-45 credit hours). For those who do not wish to attend a doctoral program, Tennessee offers a certified psychological assistant license for master’s degree-holders.

2. Earn a doctoral degree 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) in Psychology and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). If you would like to understand the differences between these degrees, visit our home page.

In Tennessee, an applicant for psychology licensure must have received their degree from a doctoral program that is either American Psychological Association (APA)-approved, listed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), or the equivalent. Applicants who are seeking designation as a Health Service Provider (HSP) must have attended a clinical, counseling, school, or combined doctoral program including a one-year 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. For more information about doctoral programs in Tennessee, please see our Psychology Schools in Tennessee page.

3. 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 Tennessee’s Licensure and Regulatory System. Be sure to indicate whether you are applying for HSP designation.

You will also need to include supplemental materials such as two signed passport-style photos, a criminal background check, supervisor affidafits, the Declaration of Citizenship Form, the Mandatory Practitioner Profile, and verification of pre-doctoral internship. In addition, you will 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 the state exam ($100).

If you will be obtaining your postdoctoral supervised professional experience (SPE) 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 ($125) along with your initial application. Your provisional license 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.

4. Gain two years of supervised experience in your area of training.

To practice as a psychologist offering health services to the public in Tennessee, you are required to complete 3,800 hours of supervised professional experience (SPE), 1,900 of which must be earned during your internship during your doctoral program. Another 1,900 hours must be earned after you have completed your doctoral degree (postdoctoral hours). 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, 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, you will need to complete the Postdoctoral Supervised Experience documentation form.

5. 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, 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 pass the EPPP, you must earn a scaled score of 500 or higher.

After you have passed 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.

6. 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 full license has been issued.

Tennessee Licensure by Endorsement

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 an application as well as submit a Psychologist Application Licensure Endorsement Form and provide proof of a passing EPPP score, a qualifying internship, valid licensure in another state, and SPE. 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.

Certified Psychological Assistant

Another psychology-related designation offered in Tennessee is the Certified Psychological Assistant. Individuals with this certification can administer psychological assessments under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. To be eligible for this certification, you must have completed a master’s degree in psychology that includes training in administration and interpretation of psychological tests. To apply, 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.

Psychologist License without HSP Designation

If you have earned a doctoral degree from an approved program but do not plan to provide health services to the public, you can apply for psychology licensure without 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.

School Services Personnel Practitioner

The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) regulates school services personnel practitioners, which includes school psychologists. To qualify as a licensed school services personnel practitioner in Tennessee, applicants must have completed a state-approved graduate-level educator preparation program in school psychology from a state outside of Tennessee; hold an advanced degree in school psychology and have a valid out-of-state professional educator license; or be certified as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). In addition to meeting one of these qualifications, applicants must also submit qualifying test scores from the past five years and submit official transcripts. If these requirements are met, an initial (provisional) three-year license as a school psychologist will be issued. It can be renewed only once before the six-year professional license is needed.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

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.

Tennessee Psychologist Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for psychologists in Tennessee, excluding teachers, was $88,035 per year as of May 2021.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earned an average yearly salary of $78,840.1 Across all categories of psychologists except for industrial-organizational psychologists, the number of psychology jobs in Tennessee is expected to increase over 14% between 2020 and 20302. The highest percentage of growth is anticipated in the field of postsecondary psychology teachers, at 29.5% during this time period.2

OccupationNumber Employed1Average Annual Salary1
Clinical andCounseling Psychologists510$108,560
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN.Av.N.Av.
Psychologists, All OtherN.Av.N.Av.
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary710$78,840
School Psychologists210$67,420

Additional Resources

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. Certified psychological assistants qualify with a master’s degree in psychology.

How much do psychologists in Tennessee make?

The average psychologist salary in Tennessee (excluding educators) was $87,990 per year as of May 2021, while postsecondary psychology teachers earned an average of $78,840 per year.1

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Tennessee: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tn.htm
2. Long Term Occupational Projections: https://www.projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm