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Washington DC Psychology Licensure Requirements

The journey to becoming a licensed psychologist in Washington DC includes an educational foundation in psychology, supervised professional experience, examinations, and a detailed application submitted to the DC Board of Psychology (the Board). On this page, you will find details about the many steps to becoming a licensed psychologist in the district, including information about average salaries for psychologists in the state.

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

How to Become a Psychologist in Washington DC

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

First, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree, which may be in psychology or another subject. If you do study a major in a different field, keep in mind that you may need to take additional psychology core classes before beginning your graduate program. Most bachelor’s degrees require 120 semester hours and take about four full-time academic years to complete.

After finishing your undergraduate studies, you can optionally pursue a master’s degree in psychology. Most master’s in psychology programs require between 30 and 40 semester hours, which usually takes two years of full-time study to complete. One compelling reason to pursue a stand-alone master’s degree in DC is that if you are interested in working in the psychology field without becoming a licensed psychologist, the Board recognizes a psychology associate license that only requires a master’s degree in psychology.

However, many doctoral programs offer integrated master’s degrees as part of their programs, which would allow you to skip a stand-alone master’s degree. Make sure to review the requirements of the doctoral program you are targeting before enrolling in a stand-alone master’s program.

2. Earn a doctoral degree in psychology.

Licensed psychologists in Washington DC must complete a doctoral degree, either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology. While these two doctoral degrees are similar, you can learn about some key differences on our home page. The doctoral program must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education or the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, Most doctoral programs take between four and seven years to complete depending on your area of focus, whether the program includes a master’s degree, and other factors.

You can complete up to 2,000 hours of the 4,000 psychological practice experience (PPE) required for licensure during a pre-doctoral internship, which needs to be documented by a supervisor. This pre-doctoral internship should be accredited by either the APA or the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC).

For more information about the doctoral programs offered in Washington DC, see our Psychology Schools in Washington DC page.

3. Gain 4,000 hours of psychological practice experience.

Applicants must complete a total of 4,000 hours of psychological practice experience (PPE) in the field. Up to 2,000 of the hours may be in a supervised pre-doctoral internship. At least 2,000 hours of the required PPE must be post-doctoral experience under the general supervision of a licensed psychologist, and a minimum of 10% of the hours must be under the immediate supervision of the psychologist. These hours must be documented with a Verification of Supervised Employment form.

4. Submit your application to the Board.

Next, psychology licensure candidates will need to submit an application and supporting documents to the Board. Applicants will need to apply online and submit verification of all supervised experience (pre- and post-doctoral), three character reference forms, attestation statement form, and a criminal background check. In addition, the Board requires one passport-size photograph, a photocopy of your government-issued photo ID, official transcripts showing proof of a doctoral degree in psychology, and a $322 application and license fee. A checklist for the application process for psychology licensure can be found on the Board’s website.

5. Pass the Washington DC psychology licensing exams.

Upon preliminary application approval by the Board, you can schedule yourself to take the standardized national examination, the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). You must take this examination within 120 days of receiving authorization. Passing the examination requires a scaled score of 500 or better. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) offers an EPPP practice exam to help you prepare for the material covered and timed nature of the test.

Although the Board previously required a local Washington DC examination, it is currently not being administered. Candidates are required, however, to submit an attestation statement form stating they have read and understand the DC laws pertaining to psychology practice found in the study material. The attestation statement will be submitted with your application.

6. Receive your license from the Board.

After the Board has received all application materials, including your EPPP scores, you will receive a psychology license to practice in Washington DC.

Washington DC Licensure by Endorsement

Psychologists who have been licensed in other states or jurisdictions can apply for licensure by endorsement in Washington DC. The Board’s Checklist for Application by Endorsement details the steps. You must apply online and include all of the documents required for licensees by examination, as well as a verification of licensure in another jurisdiction and a National Practitioner Databank (NPDB) Self Query Report.

Related Licenses

Psychology Associate License

For those who have completed a master’s degree in psychology, Washington DC offers a psychology associate license. A psychology associate can work face-to-face with clients, but cannot practice psychology independently. Instead, psychology associates must practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and identify themselves as psychology associates (not psychologists) in all written and verbal communication.

Applicants will apply online and must submit much of the same documentation as required for the main psychologist license, plus a $230 application and license fee. . A full checklist can be found on the Board website.

School Psychologist

School psychologists in Washington DC are regulated by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. School psychologists need a School Service Provider (SSP) credential to practice. In order to qualify, you will need one year of full-time employment as a school psychologist or at least 500 hours of supervised field practicum or internship experience in a school setting and passing test scores on the Praxis School Psychologist exam. All SSP candidates will need to submit an Identity History Summary Check IHSC), official transcripts for all degrees, and a program completion verification form from your school.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

The Board requires that all licensed psychologists renew their licenses by December 31 of every odd-numbered year. Psychologists must renew online. Licensed psychologists in Washington DC must complete 30 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) during each two-year period. These hours must include 15 hours in live programs, three hours in ethics and cultural competency, and two hours of LGBTQ continuing education. Individuals must submit an Application for Approval of Continuing Education form to the Board for approval before the continuing education event occurs.

Washington DC Psychologist Jobs and Salary Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that psychologists in Washington DC, excluding educators, earned an average of $100,150 as of May 2021.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earn an average of $105,510 annually, which is the second-highest in the US.1,3 Many of these positions are projected to grow in Washington DC over the 10-year period between 2020 and 2030, with job opportunities for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists expected to grow by 16.9%, “all other” psychologist positions projected to grow by 3.1%, and postsecondary psychology teacher positions in DC projected to grow 11.8%.2

OccupationNumber Employed1Average Annual Salary1
Clinical and Counseling Psychologists270$99,890
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN.Av.N.Av.
Psychologists, All Other240$104,440
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary110$105,510
School Psychologists240$96,120

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a psychologist in Washington DC?

Because the Board requires candidates to earn a doctoral degree before applying for licensure, most individuals need to spend at least eight years completing their educational foundation alone. With the requirement of 4,000 hours of supervised professional experience, some of which can be completed during your doctoral program, the process of psychology licensure can take around 10 years. However, the exact timeline depends on your educational choices and training timeline.

What degree do I need to be a licensed psychologist in Washington DC?

Psychology licensure in Washington DC requires a doctoral degree. However, another option called the psychology associate license only requires a master’s degree in psychology. Psychology associates cannot practice as independent psychologists and must work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Psychology associates can work directly with clients, but they must identify themselves as psychology associates and not as psychologists.

How much do psychologists in Washington DC make?

The average annual salary for psychologists in DC was $100,150 as of May 2021, though this number can vary depending on your field, location, and type of employer.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers in the district earn a higher average annual salary, at $105,510.1

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2021 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington DC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_dc.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251066.htm