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Washington Psychology Licensure Requirements

Those wishing to become psychologists in Washington must begin the licensure process with a thorough education in psychology that includes experience hours in preparation for professional practice. The Washington Department of Health and the Washington Administrative Code outline the requirements and procedures for becoming a psychologist in the state. Here are the primary questions candidates have about the psychology licensure process in Washington:

» How do I become a psychologist in Washington?
» What are the experience and internship requirements for psychology licensure in Washington?
» How do I register for the EPPP?
» Do I need to complete a criminal background check for psychology licensure?
» Does Washington state require a jurisprudence exam?

Three Steps to Become a Psychologist in Washington

1. Earn a Baccalaureate and a Master’s Degree in Psychology. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is the starting point for a career as a psychologist. Depending on the prospective psychologist’s areas of interest, this may be either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree. After graduating the bachelor’s degree program, prospective psychologists pursue a master’s degree in psychology in preparation for the doctoral program. You can find out more about psychology degree programs in Washington from Psychology Degree 411.

2. Earn a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. To meet the requirements for licensure in psychology, candidates must earn a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution that meets the program and curriculum components stipulated in the Washington Administrative Code. Note that in Washington the doctoral degree program must address the state requirements for AIDS education and training, a minimum of seven hours which must meet the specifications of the Washington Administrative Code.1

3. Follow the Steps to Licensing for Psychologists in Washington. The licensing process after graduating the doctoral program is overseen by the Washington State Department of Health and the Examining Board of Psychology. The following section can help you prepare for the process:

Washington Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Participate in Practicum.

300 hours of practicum experience at the doctoral level are required of all candidates for licensure as psychologists in the state of Washington.1 The practicum must take place over at least two semesters or three quarters and include 100 hours of practicum under supervision. If a candidate for licensure has completed a pre-internship, which is not required for licensing, and the pre-internship hours exceed 300 hours and the hours meet the qualifications for practicum, the excess hours may qualify to be put towards the doctoral internship hour requirements.1

2. Undertake a Doctoral Internship.

Candidates for licensure must complete a sequenced, organized doctoral internship consisting of at least 1,500 hours of supervised experience.1 The hours must be completed within 24 months in an internship program that is either accredited by the American Psychological Association or is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers.1 Internship programs that do not meet these requirements may still be acceptable provided that the program meets the other requirements for internships outlined in the Washington Administrative Code. For all doctoral internships, at least two psychologist supervisors must oversee the candidate’s work, and at least one psychologist supervisor must be licensed as a psychologist.2

3. Complete Post-Doctoral Experience.

Candidates who wish to become licensed as psychologists in Washington must accumulate at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience, which may be split between the 1,500 required doctoral internship hours discussed above and 1,500 hours of post-doctoral supervised experience.1 Post-doctoral supervised experience is not required if all 3,000 hours of required experience were earned during the doctoral internship.1 However, no more than 1,500 hours can be earned during post-doctoral experience to qualify for the 3,000 total required hours (3,300 including practicum), as at a minimum 1,500 experience hours must be earned during the post-doctoral internship.2

Note that research activities do not qualify as post-doctoral experience as the Examining Board of Psychology has determined that the “conduct of research” is not included in the definition of the “practice of psychology.” This includes research on human subjects, and as a result no research studies or activities may be included in post-doctoral experience that is counted towards the hour requirements.

4. Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

Applicants may take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology either prior to or following initial submission of the application for licensure. Applicants should note whether or not the EPPP has been taken in the spaces provided on the application form. For licensure in Washington, candidates must achieve a passing score on the EPPP of at least 70% or the national mean, whichever is lower.2 Letters of admission to take the EPPP for Washington state licensure are not required; candidates can arrange to take the EPPP directly with the test administrator, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

5. Submit the Psychology License Application Packet.

The Psychology License Application Packet contains the forms required to become a licensed psychologist in Washington for most applicants. Candidates for licensure should thoroughly complete the forms required for their individual circumstances. All candidates must submit three professional reference requests from supervisors present during the accumulation of required internship and experience hours. The Professional Reference Request form is included in the application packet for this purpose. The status of submitted applications can be checked online through the Washington State Department of Health.

6. Complete the Criminal Background Check, If Required.

A criminal background check is automatically completed by the Washington State Department of Health as part of the application process. However, as this background check is limited to databases maintained by the Washington State Patrol applicants from out of state or with a criminal history may be required to have fingerprints taken and forwarded to the Washington State Department of Health for further investigation. If this is the case, applicants will be notified of this requirement.

7. Take the Washington State Jurisprudence Examination.

The Washington State Jurisprudence Examination is the final step towards obtaining a license to practice psychology in Washington. The Washington State Jurisprudence Examination is an open-book exam consisting of multiple-choice questions on acts, laws, and regulations for the practice of psychology in Washington. A full packet of the laws and regulations covered by the exam is available through the Examining Board of Psychology website which may be printed. A printed copy of the rules will be provided to applicants during the examination, which is held monthly at the offices of the Department of Health. Scheduled dates for the exam can be viewed on the Department of Health, Examining Board of Psychology website.

Additional Requirements and Information

There is much to know about the licensing process for psychologists in Washington and the rules and regulations for licensed psychologists in the state. You can find more in-depth information on the Washington Department of Health website, including:

  • Coursework requirements for doctoral programs
  • Expedited licensing for health professionals who are spouses or registered domestic partners of military personnel
  • State and country level equivalencies for license transfers and endorsements
  • Requirements for continuing education training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management
  • Information for identifying and reporting human trafficking in professional practice

References:
1. Washington State Department of Health https://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/Psychologist
2. Washington Administrative Code Chapter 246-924, Psychologists http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=246-924
3. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards EPPP Exam Information https://www.asppb.net/page/FAQs