California is home to the greatest number of psychologists in the nation. With a highly varied economy and population, California offers diverse and unique opportunities for practicing psychologists. It’s no surprise that there are many quality educational institutions offering psychology degrees in the state. Stanford University’s program is the highest ranked graduate psychology program in the nation according to US News rankings, and UCLA’s clinical psychology program is one of the largest in the country.

You can easily search for these and other psychology programs and schools using the search tool below.

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California has strict licensing requirements for psychologists. Candidates wishing to be granted a license should be sure to carefully read all requirements and complete the educational, practice-based, and administrative steps to ensure a smooth licensing process.

California Licensing for Psychologists

Licensed psychologists in California are permitted to do the following:

  • Diagnose, treat, prevent, and ameliorate psychological problems and emotional and mental disorders.
  • Provide psychological advice and services to groups and individuals
  • Conduct research in the areas of psychology

California Authority on Licensing

The California Board of Psychology regulates the practice of psychology in the state. Its mission is to provide protection for consumers receiving psychological services in the state by controlling the licensing and enforcement procedures.

Psychologist licensure candidates in California must have completed the following steps:

Graduated from an accredited institution with a doctorate in psychology, educational psychology, education with a specialization in counseling psychology, or education with a specialization in educational psychology.

Passed a LiveScan background check and fingerprint scan

Completed two years (3,000 hours) of supervised professional experience, at least 1,500 of which must have been completed after the doctorate degree was awarded

Passed the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE)

Other Licensing Criteria
  • Candidates must provide proof of doctoral coursework in: human sexuality (10 contact hours), child abuse (7 contact hours), detection and treatment of substance abuse and dependency (one graduate level course at least a quarter in length), domestic abuse (15 contact hours), and aging and long term care (10 contact hours).

  • The pre-doctoral supervised professional experience may be completed in an internship credited by the APA or at an organization that is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral or Internship Centers (APPIC) or the California Psychology Internship Council (CPIC). If it is completed at a non-credited internship or with an organization that is not a member of the above organizations, the candidate must either hold a waiver granted by the Department of Mental Health or hold a state-issued credential as a “registered psychologist.” The registered psychologist credential permits the holder to accrue supervised professional experience at a qualified nonprofit community agency that receives at least a quarter of its funding from the state of California. The community agency must employ a licensed psychologist that is available to the registered psychologist at all times.

  • In most cases, the post-doctoral supervised professional experience must be completed at a program credited by the APA, APPIC, or the CPIC. The candidate may begin the experience once all requirements of the postdoctoral degree are met.

  • The California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE) can be taken only after the candidate has completed the 3,000 professional supervised experience hours. A candidate who fails the CLPEE must wait six months before retaking the exam, and eligibility is lost if the exam is not retaken within a year.

Psychology Licensing Exams in California

Psychologist candidates in California are required to pass both a national and a state examination: the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the state issued California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE).

Recognized Psychology Specializations in California

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • School Psychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Specialization Requirements

  • Candidate must meet all other licensure requirements

California Psychologist License Renewal

  • Licensed psychologists must complete at least 36 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their licenses. Up to 75% of the continuing education hours may be earned through independent study. All courses must be approved by the American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association, the California Medical Association, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or by the Academies of the specialty boards of the American Board of Professional Psychology.
California Licensure Resources

Salary and Employment Trends for Psychologists Practicing in California

Growth and Employment Rate for Psychologists in California vs Nationwide

Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologists Growth 2012-2022

Nationwide 11%

California 9.6%

Psychologists, Other Growth 2012-2022

Nationwide 11%

California 7.7%

Industrial/ Organizational Psychologists Growth 2012-2022

Nationwide N/A

California N/A

Number psychologists employed 2014 (all types)

Nationwide 115,810

California 19,940

Earnings for Psychologists in California vs Nationwide

Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologists   Psychologist, Other   Industrial/ Organizational Psychologists


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To learn more about psychology education programs, licensure, and salary data in California, please visit the following resources.

California Psychology Resources