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Washington DC Psychology Licensure Requirements

If you are interested in learning how to become a licensed psychologist in Washington DC, you can begin the process by becoming familiar with the rules and guidelines overseen by the DC Board of Psychology. The journey to licensure requires an educational foundation in psychology, supervised professional experience, examinations, and a detailed application. On this page, you will find details about the many steps to becoming a licensed psychologist in Washington DC, including information about average salaries for psychologists in the state. Common questions that often come up include:

» How do I become a psychologist in Washington DC?
» I have earned a PhD or PsyD and I am ready to learn how to get a psychologist license in Washington DC.
» What are Washington DC’s supervised professional experience rules and regulations?
» What psychology exams are required in Washington DC?
» Can I become licensed in Washington DC with only a master’s degree?
» I am already a licensed psychologist in another state; how do I become licensed in Washington DC by endorsement?
» How do I renew my psychology license in Washington DC?
» How much do psychologists in Washington DC make?

Three Steps to Becoming a Psychologist in Washington DC

Earning your psychologist licensure in Washington DC is a process that takes years, but can result in a rewarding career. Before beginning the licensure process, you will need to fulfill the educational requirements. Read on to understand the three high-level steps to becoming 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 in psychology, which can be a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS). You can choose to study a major in a field related to psychology or in a different field altogether, but keep in mind that if you major in another subject, you may need to take additional psychology core classes as you pursue advanced degrees in psychology. 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. Different programs offer Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degrees, and you can decide which curriculum best matches your interests. Most master’s programs require between 36 and 54 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 which only requires a master’s degree in psychology.

However, many doctoral programs offer a master’s degree as part of their program (see Step 2 below), which would allow you to skip a stand-alone master’s degree. Make sure to review the requirements of the doctoral program you choose before enrolling in a stand-alone master’s program.

2. Earn a PsyD or PhD 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 the American Psychological Association’s (APA) website. The doctoral program must be recognized by the Secretary of the United States Department of Education or the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, accredited by the American Psychological Association, or listed in the publication “Doctoral Psychology Program Meeting Designation Criteria.” 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 supervised internship experience 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. Get licensed to practice psychology in Washington DC.

After you complete your educational foundation in psychology, you must fulfill additional requirements for psychology licensure. You will need to complete supervised professional experience hours, take a national exam, and document and submit various application materials. The steps to becoming licensed by the Board of Psychology in Washington DC are detailed below.

Washington DC Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Gain 4,000 hours of supervised professional experience in your area of training.

Applicants must complete a total of 4,000 hours of psychological practice experience (PPE) in the field. 2,000 of the hours should be in a supervised pre-doctoral internship (see Step 2 above). 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.

2. Submit your application to the Board.

Next, psychology licensure candidates will need to submit an application and supporting documents to the Board of Psychology. In addition to the verification of supervised professional experience (see Step 1), applicants will need to submit a New License Application and an attestation statement and complete a criminal background check. In addition, the Board requires two passport-size photographs, a photocopy of your government-issued photo ID, official transcripts showing proof of a doctoral degree in psychology, three character references, and a $322 application and license fee. General instructions for the application process for psychology licensure can be found the Board’s website, and the Board also provides a New License Application checklist.

3. Pass the Washington DC psychology licensing exams.

Upon preliminary application approval by the Board of Psychology, 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 total cost of the EPPP is $687.50. 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. However, candidates do need to pass a jurisprudence examination developed by the Board, which covers rules and ethical standards within the District of Columbia. The Board provides Jurisprudence examination study material, and applicants cannot take this examination until all other criteria have been met. Once the Board approves your application, they will contact you to schedule the examination.

4. Receive your license from the Board.

After the Board of Psychology has received all application materials, including your background check, EPPP scores, and jurisprudence exam results, 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. You are required to submit the New License Application, completing Section 6C which lists the jurisdiction where you have held a comparable psychology license, and submit the same supporting documentation as new applicants (see Step 2, above). You must also request and attach verification of licensure provided by your previous jurisdiction, as well as the $322 application and license fee. Once your application is approved, you will also need to complete the jurisprudence examination before becoming licensed in DC.

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, a psychology associate must be practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and identify themselves as a psychology associate (not a psychologist) in all written and verbal communication.

The application process requires a Psychology Associate Registration application, a criminal background check, and a Character Reference form, as well as two passport-size photographs, a copy of your government-issued photo ID, official transcripts of your master’s degree in psychology, three character references, and application and license fees totalling $230. A full checklist can be found on the Board website. Note that new psychology associate applicants and candidates for psychology associate licensure by endorsement will complete the same application for licensure.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Information

The Board of Psychology in Washington DC requires that licensed psychologists renew their license by December 31 of every odd-numbered year. Individuals can submit a Renewal Application and $203 fee by mail or apply online.

Licensed psychologists in Washington DC must complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) activities 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 Psychology Jobs and Salary Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that psychologists in Washington DC, excluding educators, earn an average of $88,010.1 Postsecondary psychology teachers earn an average of $109,320 annually, which is the highest in the US.1,3 Many of these positions are projected to grow in Washington DC at roughly the same rate as in the country at large, with job opportunities for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists expected to grow by 12.1% through 2026.2 “All other” psychologist positions are projected to grow by 9% in DC through 2026, compared to the US average of 10.3%, and postsecondary psychology teacher positions in DC are projected to grow 16.8% over the same period, compared to the US average of 15.1%.2

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists530$85,310
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN/AN/A
Psychologists, All Other200$90,710
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary110$109,320

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 Washington DC?

Because the Board of Psychology of Washington DC 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. A psychology associate can work directly with clients, but they must identify themselves as a psychology associate and not as a psychologist.

How much do psychologists in Washington DC make?

The average psychologist in DC makes an average of $88,010 annually, 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 (the highest in the United States for this field, in fact) of $109,320.1

Additional Resources

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington DC: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_dc.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, 25-1066 Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2017/may/oes251066.htm