How to Become a Psychologist

If you are curious about what makes people tick and you are a good listener, you may be wondering how to become a psychologist. This field includes people who work with clients, as well as those who are more interested in teaching or conducting research.

You can start preparing for this career choice while attending high school. It’s a good idea to take science courses (biology, chemistry, etc.). Since you will be studying statistics as part of your university-level psychology courses, make sure you take mathematics as well. Along with these courses, take English, writing, history and religion; they will give you a well-rounded education which will benefit you when are studying at the post-secondary level.

Education Required to Become a Psychologist

The first step to becoming a psychologist is to complete an undergraduate degree in psychology. You can choose your minor in any area of study which interests you. The curriculum for this degree program will include courses similar to the following:

• Critical Thinking
• Developmental Psychology
• English Composition
• Experimental Psychology
• Global Societies
• History and Systems of Psychology
• Human Biology
• Introduction to General Psychology
• Introduction to Sociology
• Microcomputer Applications
• Psychology of Learning
• Scientific Method in Psychology
• Social Psychology
• Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
• World Literature

After completing the undergraduate degree in psychology, the next step is to complete a Master’s degree. This type of program includes classes in clinical theory as well as behavioral neuroscience. Depending on the school you choose, you can get a general education or pursue a specialty track, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Forensic Psychology or Neuroscience. The one you choose will depend on whether you are interested in conducting research or working with clients. Examples of courses you may be enrolled in include:

• Abnormal Psychology and Society
• Behavior Principles
• Child Psychology
• Cognitive Psychology
• Drugs and Behavior
• Introduction to Forensic Psychology
• Psychology as a Natural Science
• Psychology: Understanding Human Behavior
• Social Psychology
• Theories of Personality

The final degree required to become a psychologist is to complete either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program. If your goal is to teach or conduct research, then the Ph.D. program would likely be the best fit. The curriculum for this type of program is presented on a research-based education model.

The Psy.D. program is a good choice for people who are mainly interested in providing services to clients, although graduates can also conduct research or teach if they wish. This degree focuses on theories and practical applications for clinical work.

It will likely take two-four years of study after completing your Master’s degree to complete a doctoral degree. If your goal is to become a clinical or counseling psychologist, you will need to be certified by the state where you are planning to work. Each one sets its own certification and licensing requirements, and a practicing psychologist may be required to take continuing education courses to maintain his or her license or certification.

If your goal is to become a psychologist, you will need to complete an undergraduate, a Master’s and a Doctoral degree in psychology before writing the certification or licensing exam for the state where you will be working.

Featured Degree Programs