How long does it take to become a psychologist?
The time it takes to become a psychologist depends largely on your specialty area and career interest. But here is a general timeline.
The Path to Becoming a Psychologist
First, you will need a bachelor’s degree (4 to 5 years), which teaches the fundamentals of psychology. After that, you will need a master’s degree (2 to 3 years), which can qualify you to practice in the field as a case manager, employment specialist, or social worker. Then, most state licensing boards require a doctorate (4 to 7 years). The type of doctoral degree you choose––either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)––will depend on your career goals. Many states also require post-doctoral training equivalent to about 1 year of work.
While there are several excellent psychology career options that do not require as many years of education as it takes to become a licensed clinical psychologist, the benefits of doing so — including the satisfaction of helping others and a higher salary — can compensate for the additional years of education it will require.
Bachelor’s Degree (4 to 5 Years)
Whether you’re pursuing a new career or looking to continue your studies at the graduate level, a bachelor’s degree can help you develop an understanding of human learning, emotions, and behaviors. Potential employment settings with a bachelor’s in psychology could include nonprofit organizations, market research firms, social services agencies, government, marketing departments, or advertising agencies.
Master’s Degree (2 to 3 Years)
A master’s degree will give you a broad introduction to the field of psychology. You can then use your electives to focus your study in a particular field. Successful graduates of this program often pursue positions in education, government, human services, health care mental health care, and marketing/advertising. You may also use this program to prepare for doctoral studies in your particular area of interest
Doctoral Degree (4 to 7 Years)
The required degree for licensure is typically a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD). Your choice of degree will depend on your career goals and whether you want a career in practice (PsyD) or in research (PhD), or some combination thereof.
The PsyD is a professional degree and focuses more on practice and clinical work. The PhD places more emphasis on experimental methods and research. A PsyD prepares you for a career as a practicing psychologist. A PhD produces psychologists who can understand and apply research as well as conduct it.
Potential employment settings with a PsyD or PhD can include schools and colleges, health care systems, government, nonprofit organizations, social service agencies, and market research firms.
Capella’s Psychology Degree Programs
Capella University’s online psychology degree programs are closely aligned to professional standards to ensure you gain the same skills and knowledge as the top performers in your field. We continually review and adapt our programs to deliver skills you can immediately use. Our degree programs include:
Our psychology-degree programs prepare you to meet state licensing prerequisites. However, we cannot guarantee licensure, certification, or endorsement. If you are seeking information on professional licensure, view our licensure information .
Request more information and we’ll match you with an enrollment counselor who can answer your questions.