The best colleges in Florida for psychology offer a solid academic foundation in behavioral science, allowing graduates to take on rewarding positions in counseling, research, clinical, and educational psychology. With more than 3,950 clinical and counseling professionals working throughout the state, Florida is one of the nation's top 10 employers of psychologists. This guide explores the advantages of attending Florida colleges for psychology, including tuition rates, courses, and specialization opportunities.
Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Florida?
By Heather Mullinix
With over 50 colleges for psychology in Florida, prospective students of all kinds can find a school that meets their academic needs. State residents enjoy a low 3.2% unemployment rate, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an above-average job growth rate of 20-22%.
Students attending Florida colleges for psychology meet state educational requirements for licensure. They can also begin building a professional network through internships, volunteerism, and membership in professional associations.
In addition, Florida offers quality higher education opportunities at an affordable price. The state ranks first in higher education on the annual U.S. News & World Report best state rankings. Florida boasts the second-lowest in-state tuition costs, with the annual state average of $6,350 falling far below the national average of $10,440. Students graduate with an average of $24,041 in student debt, the eighth-lowest figure in the nation. Florida also ranks second in two-year college graduation rates and eighth for four-year college graduates.
What to Expect in a Florida Psychology College Program
Many community colleges offer two-year associate degrees in psychology, which typically include general education coursework. Accredited schools often maintain articulation agreements with colleges and universities offering four-year bachelor's degrees, allowing associate degree-holders to transfer in as juniors and complete their advanced coursework in two years.
Doctoral programs offer students the chance to perform independent research and fieldwork in their chosen discipline.
A bachelor's degree may offer the chance to choose a specialization, such as clinical or educational psychology. However, most students delve more deeply into a specialty during graduate study. Master's programs generally require 2-3 years to complete and may include an internship component.
Doctoral programs offer students the chance to perform independent research and fieldwork in their chosen discipline. Prospective doctoral candidates should ensure that a program's curriculum and format align with their focus area.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Florida?
Course catalogs vary between schools and often depend on faculty interests and research. However, the best psychology schools in Florida offer a rich selection of elective courses. Electives help undergraduate students evaluate different specializations within psychology and how those concentrations assist and inform other disciplines. At the graduate level, elective courses allow students to perform fieldwork and research in their focus areas.
Analysis of Psychological Data
Psychological research often includes large sets of qualitative and quantitative data. In this undergraduate course, candidates explore the statistical analysis and organizational methods used to develop and test hypotheses. Students learn to select statistical methods for various purposes as they examine descriptive and inferential statistics.
Perception, Memory, and Thought
This undergraduate course introduces theories in cognitive psychology, examining the mental functions behind basic behaviors involving speech, memory, attention, and problem solving. Learners evaluate various methods developed to help patients cope with cognitive disorders, such as dementia or traumatic brain injury.
Human behavior evolves from infanthood through adulthood. This introductory undergraduate course incorporates elements from various psychological subfields, such as developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Students review historical and current research on topics like family and social influences, learning, language development, moral development, and development of identity.
Learning Processes in Education
This graduate-level course asks students to look closely at their assumptions about student learning. The curriculum includes evaluation of behavioral, cognitive, and cultural psychology, and how these theories apply to classroom management, student learning, and student behavior. Most assignments focus on academic writing and research, preparing students for their thesis and dissertation.
Culture and Psychology
Psychologists often use cultural norms to evaluate patient behavior, focusing on actions that fall outside those parameters. This graduate-level course examines the role of culture and society in human behavior. Lectures build diversity awareness, exploring multicultural variables that may influence treatment processes.
Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Florida
Becoming a psychologist in Florida often requires 12 or more years of education and training. Most psychologists begin their education with a bachelor's degree in psychology. These four-year programs typically combine general education courses in English, math, science, and history with foundational coursework in behavioral science and scientific research methods. Many undergraduates use elective coursework to explore specializations within psychology, or interdisciplinary connections with other fields, such as criminology, education, and business.
Most psychologists begin their education with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
The next step usually involves earning a graduate degree in psychology. Graduate studies allow candidates to dig deeper into specialized areas of psychology. Many master's programs also offer experiential learning opportunities, during which students apply what they've learned to a practical setting. These experiences may include short, clinical rotations during a course or longer internships for graduate credit. Most master's programs in psychology require 2-3 years to complete.
Florida requires licensed psychologists to complete a doctorate in psychology from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). These programs require 5-7 years of study and often culminate in a written dissertation. Many of the best colleges in Florida for psychology offer both a Ph.D. in psychology and a doctorate of psychology, or Psy.D. The Ph.D. focuses on research, while the Psy.D. emphasizes clinical applications of psychological theory. Doctoral programs typically include an internship component, and candidates can often tailor their coursework and internships to their chosen specialty.
Florida Licensing for Psychologists
Florida law requires psychologists to obtain state licensure before assessing, diagnosing, or treating patients for behavioral disorders or mental health conditions. The best psychology schools in Florida provide students with the rigorous hands-on training needed to pass state licensing exams. The Florida Board of Psychology ensures licensed psychologists follow professional and ethical standards and complete ongoing professional development courses.
Why Get Licensed in Florida?
Licensed psychologists may administer psychological tests and use the results to diagnose mental illness or cognitive disabilities. Florida also allows licensed psychologists to work directly with patients to provide mental health counseling. Licensed or certified educational psychologists are permitted to work with students who need special education services. A psychology degree also qualifies candidates for other mental health positions, such as mental health counselor, family therapist, or clinical social worker.
Licensing Criteria for Florida
The Florida Board of Psychology licenses psychologists to practice in the state. Mental health professionals often serve vulnerable individuals, and the board ensures that providers meet the highest standards for patient safety.
Most new psychology graduates pursue licensure by examination, while practitioners from other states who wish to practice in Florida typically seek licensure by endorsement. Out-of-state providers may also apply for permission to offer telehealth services to Florida residents. New applicants must hold an APA-accredited doctorate in psychology and complete 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised practice before passing rigorous professional exams.
School psychologists may seek licensing through the Board of Psychology or certification from the Florida Department of Education. School psychologists must hold a graduate degree or higher in school psychology, complete an internship, and pass Florida educator exams. Certified school psychologists may only practice within school systems.
How to Get Licensed in Florida
After completing an APA accredited psychology program, graduates must spend 4,000 hours providing direct patient services in a clinical setting. Applicants may fulfill this requirement with up to 2,000 hours from a doctoral internship and complete the remaining work hours in a postdoctoral clinical program. Candidates conduct patient assessments, develop treatment plans, and provide counseling services under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.
Florida's licensing process begins with an application to the Florida Board of Psychology. This agency reviews educational transcripts and supervised practice records before conducting background checks on all applicants. Candidates must also pay a $200 application fee, a $100 initial licensure fee, and a $5 unlicensed activity fee.
Qualifying applicants then receive authorization to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Florida must approve licensees to sit for the exam, which costs $688 and includes 225 multiple-choice questions. Applicants must earn a scaled score of at least 500 on the EPPP and pass the Board of Psychology's Florida Laws and Rules Exam.
License Renewal in Florida
A Florida psychology license remains valid until May 31 of every even year. Psychologists must apply to renew their license before it expires. Candidates for renewal must pay a $300 fee and provide proof of completing 40 hours of continuing education during the prior two-year period. The state charges $700-$1,000 for late renewals.
Florida's continuing education requirements include 35 hours of general professional education, two hours related to medical errors, and three hours pertaining to ethics and state laws. New psychologists who have not been licensed for at least two years need only complete two hours of medical errors training for their first renewal cycle.
Florida Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends
According to the BLS, Florida clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn an average annual salary of $76,190, with practitioners in the bottom 10th percentile earning $39,440 up to more than $123,580 for top wage earners in other fields. While lower than the national average of $85,340, Florida professionals still out-earn psychologists in neighboring Alabama. Florida psychologists in other specialty areas earn an annual mean wage of $96,640, which is higher than the national average of $95,610.
Florida is one of the nation's top employers for professionals in the "all other psychologists" category.
All types of psychologists are projected to see strong job growth throughout the state. While the BLS projects a national 14% growth rate for all psychology jobs, those in clinical, counseling, and school psychology in Florida should see a 20% job growth rate, along with a 20% growth rate for all other psychologists and 21% for postsecondary psychology teachers. Florida's job growth projections also outpace surrounding states, including Alabama and Georgia.
Florida is one of the nation's top employers for professionals in the "all other psychologists" category. Top hiring industries include government, private health practices, and colleges and universities, while clinical, counseling, and school psychologists often find work in elementary and secondary schools, health practices, and individual and family services.
Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Florida
Psychologists, All Other in Florida
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally
Psychology Programs and Licensing in Florida Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?
Undergraduate students may pursue a BS or a BA, depending on their academic and career goals. A BS curriculum tends to emphasize the scientific process and statistical analysis, while a BA typically incorporates interdisciplinary studies with a traditional liberal arts curriculum.
What Is a Good Speciality for Psychology?
Many psychologists specialize in a particular subfield of psychology or client base, such as addiction psychology, developmental psychology, or child psychology. Students may gain expertise in their chosen field through elective or interdisciplinary coursework.
What Is the Difference Between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D. in Psychology?
Both Ph.D. and Psy.D. degrees meet Florida educational standards for licensure. The research-based Ph.D. prepares candidates for jobs in research and academia, while most Psy.D. curricula focus on clinical practice.
Can I Get Licensed If My Degree Is From an Unaccredited Program?
Florida law requires all psychologists to complete an APA accredited program, so you should verify your school's accreditation status before enrolling in classes. The APA only provides accreditation for doctoral programs and does not accredit online programs. During the accreditation process, the APA examines a program's curriculum, student selection, and faculty. All accredited programs must include an internship component.
What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?
Psychologists must hold a valid license to practice in Florida. Professionals must maintain licensure by completing 40 hours of continuing education every two years and paying renewal fees by the May 31 deadline. While license renewal costs $300, the fees increase to $700 after expiration and to $1,000 after 120 days.
Psychology Resources for Florida
Florida Psychological Association A state affiliate of the APA, this organization provides members with networking events, continuing education programs, and legislative advocacy opportunities. The organization represents more than 1,500 practicing psychologists from all specialties across the state.
Florida Association of School Psychologists This association encourages school psychologists to share and compare their experiences and methodologies related to educational and psychological assessment. Early-career psychologists, retirees, and students enjoy special membership rates.
Mental Health Florida The Florida Psychological Association disseminates information about mental health services in the state. Website visitors can verify licensure, access emergency intervention for clients, and explore relevant blog posts.
Florida Board of Psychology This state agency administers psychologist licensure and license renewal. The board also responds to complaints regarding ethical standards and provides approved continuing education resources.
Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition This organization unites mental health providers, clients, and concerned citizens under the shared goal of suicide prevention. This nonprofit group sponsors an annual conference, educational sessions, and suicide prevention initiatives in communities and schools.