To practice psychology in a state, province or territory (jurisdiction) of the U.S. or Canada, an individual must be licensed or registered as a psychologist according to the laws and regulations in effect in that particular jurisdiction. The legal basis for licensure lies in the right of a jurisdiction to enact legislation to protect its citizens - in this case to identify qualified psychologists and to discipline or remove from practice incompetent or unethical psychologists. Licensure as a psychologist generally involves meeting requirements in three areas: education, examination(s), and supervised experience.
Licensure for the independent practice of psychology requires a doctoral degree in psychology in most states, provinces, and territories of the U.S. and Canada. About half the states, provinces and territories also have a category of licensure for the practice of psychology under the supervision of a doctoral level licensed psychologist, often called Psychological Associate, which usually requires at least a master's degree in psychology. Degrees must be obtained from programs that meet specific criteria, such as regional accreditation and certain course work requirements, set out in laws and regulations.
Sixty two states, provinces and territories in the U.S. and Canada require licensure applicants to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The content of the EPPP is based on results of a survey of practicing psychologists in the U.S. and Canada that was completed in 2010 and is used to determine the knowledge about the field of psychology that an entry-level psychologist should have to practice competently. Information about the EPPP can be found on the ASPPB website, click here.
Many states and provinces require a jurisprudence examination (i.e., an examination covering the laws and rules governing the practice of psychology in that jurisdiction) and/or an oral examination in addition to the EPPP. Information on which jurisdictions require supplemental examinations, as well as other licensure-related information, is available in the Handbook of Licensing and Certification Requirements for Psychologists in the U.S. and Canada.
Psychology licensure requires supervised experience, in the majority of jurisdictions, one year during the doctoral program (internship in most cases) and another year after receipt of the doctoral degree ("postdoc"). Most states, provinces and territories have specific criteria that must be met for supervised experience to qualify. Basic information is available in the Handbook of Licensing and Certification Requirements for Psychologists in the U.S. and Canada, or an individual should contact the psychology board in the appropriate jurisdiction.