Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Illinois?

By LearnPsychology.org Staff

Chicago, one of the nation's biggest metropolitan areas, boasts some of the best psychology schools in Illinois. Students who attend colleges for psychology in Illinois may experience an easier time finding a well-paying psychology job due to the state's low unemployment rate.

With an unemployment rate of just 3.9%, Illinois shows higher per-capita employment than nearby Michigan and Ohio. The state's low unemployment rate also beats unemployment in New York and ties that of California.

Some psychology careers require a license. The easiest way to become eligible for licensure in Illinois is by studying at a state-approved program. As a result, many Illinois-based programs meet Illinois' standards for licensure.

What to Expect in an Illinois Psychology College Program

In 2018, Illinois conferred 3,211 psychology degrees across all levels, the fifth-highest number in the U.S. Because Illinois produces so many psychology graduates, degree-seekers should expect greater competition for acceptance into master's or doctoral programs.

Illinois requires all licensed psychologists to possess a doctorate in psychology. Students must complete a bachelor's degree, which takes about four years to complete, followed by a master's degree, which takes 2-3 years. Learners can usually earn a doctorate in 5-7 years, depending on whether they need clinical experience to finish the program.

Degree-seekers often look for internship and clinical opportunities in Chicago. Studying at a Chicago-based school could increase learners' chances of finding an internship that fits their desired psychology specialty.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Illinois?

Colleges for psychology in Illinois offer different courses depending on students' specialization area and education level. However, learners often experience similar courses when earning an undergraduate and graduate psychology degree.

Intro to Psychology

This course teaches the purpose of psychology, the goals of psychological research, and research methods. Learners also explore the scientific method.

Cognitive Psychology

This undergraduate course combines knowledge of the brain as a system and applies it to psychology. Degree-seekers study memory, knowledge, thought, and language to further understand human psychology.

Social Psychology

An older area of psychological thought and study, this undergraduate course examines the history of social psychology and its evolution over time. Students learn about social cognition, conformity, and personalities in different social situations.

Psychology of Language

In this master's or doctoral-level course, students learn how humans use verbal and written language to convey thoughts. This course typically focuses on the cognitive process, meaning students cover how language correlates with brain activity.

Psychometric Theory

This course is offered either as an upper-division undergraduate course or doctoral-level course. Learners measure psychological activity using a combination of statistics and software. Students must often take background courses in statistics and psychometrics as prerequisites.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Illinois

Individuals can explore various psychologist positions in Illinois, though some require a license. Students should consider their desired career when deciding their degree path. For example, clinical psychologists need a license, while school psychologists may not need one. Professionals who want to work in a position that requires a license should earn a doctoral degree in psychology. Otherwise, psychologists need a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

Psychology remains the ideal major for careers requiring a bachelor's degree.

Psychology remains the ideal major for careers requiring a bachelor's degree. Learners should also study psychology, or a related field, if they want to pursue a career requiring a master's degree or greater. For example, a master's or doctorate in integrative neuroscience could lead to a career in psychology.

Licensure in Illinois requires degree-seekers earn clinical hours through experiences like internships. Students who want to work in a specialized position may need to secure a specialized internship or degree.

Illinois Licensing for Psychologists

Illinois requires certain psychologists to earn a license. While not required for all psychology jobs, the highest-paying positions often need a license. By earning a license, psychology professionals prove that they have completed a minimum amount of education and earned nearly 2,000 hours of professional experience.

Why Get Licensed in Illinois?

Aspiring clinical or prescribing psychologists in Illinois must obtain a license. Careers that require prescribing medication or working in a clinical format also require licensure. Fortunately, Illinois follows American Psychological Association (APA) standards, so completing licensure requirements in Illinois may satisfy licensure requirements in other states.

Non-clinical or prescribing positions, such as school psychologists or psychology, professors do not need licensure.

Licensing Criteria for Illinois

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is the licensing body in Illinois. IDFPR requires psychologists to earn a doctorate from an APA-approved program, a program approved by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, or from an IDFPR-recognized program. Professionals can become licensed if they possess a doctorate from a non-approved program, although they must complete a rigorous process.

After completing a doctoral psychology program, students must complete one year of supervised experience. During this year, learners must earn a total of 1,750 hours over a minimum of 50 weeks and a maximum of 36 months. The supervised experience could include an internship or residency. Students may earn income while completing their supervised experience.

Learners can finish supervised hours in nearly any setting so long as they are supervised by a licensed clinical psychologist. Degree-seekers should pursue supervised experience related to their specialization.

How to Get Licensed in Illinois

Once students complete a doctoral program and their supervised experience, IDFPR reviews candidates and determines whether they are eligible to take the clinical psychologist examination. At the same time, students must receive approval from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Once approved by both organizations, learners take the clinical psychologist exam online.

As an online exam, students can complete the clinical psychologist exam any time and anywhere. However, applicants must take the test within 90 days of receiving approval. A single exam exists, so applicants entering a specialized field do not need to take a special test. Learners who do not pass the exam on their first try may apply to retake the exam. Applicants must pay a $98 exam fee.

Those who aspire to become prescribing psychologists need additional supervised hours. Illinois does not explicitly require individuals to become a licensed clinical psychologist in order to work as a prescribing psychologist. However, most prescribing psychologist careers require a clinical psychologist license.

License Renewal in Illinois

Every even-numbered year, licensed psychologists must renew their license by September 30. Along with a renewal fee, Illinois requires 24 hours of continuing education (CE), three of which must be in ethical psychology. Psychologists may earn CE hours outside of Illinois, though they must submit an application to verify the credits. Psychologists accused of or proven to have committed unethical practices or crimes might not be eligible for renewal. Psychologists file and pay for renewal applications through IDFPR.

Illinois Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Overall, psychologists in Illinois earn less than the national average for most positions. In 2018, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Illinois earned a mean wage of $75,180, below the national mean wage of $85,340. However, the occupation's mean wage rate in Illinois was higher than in Indiana and Kentucky.

Similarly, all other psychologists in Illinois earned a mean wage of $87,410 in 2018, which is lower than the national mean wage of $95,610. However, the mean wage for all other psychologists in Illinois was still higher than in Wisconsin and Missouri.

Illinois is one of the largest employers for psychologists.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5.9% increase in jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists from 2018-28 in Illinois. This is lower than the national projected growth rate of 14% during the same time period.

Illinois is one of the largest employers for psychologists. The relatively low projected percentage growth could be due in part to the fact that Illinois employs so many psychologists. Overall, mean wages for both sets of psychologists are trending downward in Illinois, potentially due to the many psychologists already working in the state.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Illinois $77,700 N/A
Psychologists, All Other in Illinois $76,150 $75,060
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally $78,690 $81,330
Psychologists, All Other Nationally $94,650 $93,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mean Wage For Psychologists In Illinois and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,340

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Illinois

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $75,180

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,410

  • Wisconsin

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $83,420

    Psychologists, All Other: $80,620

  • Indiana

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,350

    Psychologists, All Other: $88,470

  • Kentucky

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $64,330

    Psychologists, All Other: $91,020

  • Missouri

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $76,480

    Psychologists, All Other: $86,730

  • Iowa

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,260

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Illinois 5.9% N/A
Wisconsin 9.7% 5.6%
Indiana 15.4% 13.6%
Kentucky 12.1% 4.8%
Missouri 16.2% 4.2%
Iowa 16.2% 4.2%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Illinois Frequently Asked Questions

Is Psychology a Good Major?

A psychology degree leads to many psychology careers, including non-psychology careers like human resources. Many potential careers do not require a degree beyond a bachelor's.

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

Aspiring licensed psychologists may want to earn a bachelor of science (BS). A BS in psychology typically requires more statistics courses that are necessary for some doctoral programs. A bachelor of arts (BA) in psychology may require some statistics courses, but degree-seekers might have more room for elective courses.

Do I Have to Major in Psychology to Become a Psychologist?

No, you do not. In fact, you may not need a doctoral degree in psychology, either. Some psychologists complete degrees in fields related to psychology, while others only focus on psychology in their master's program. However, majoring in psychology is a smart option for learners who want to work as psychologists.

Are Illinois Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?

Illinois psychology licenses are not directly valid in other states. States follow a similar set of standards for psychology licensure, though each state wants practicing psychologists to earn a license. Individuals licensed in Illinois who move to another state may need a new license. Thankfully, most states allow licensed psychologists to skip most standard requirements through an endorsement process.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

Illinois considers a license that has not been renewed in five years as inactive. If this happens, professionals may not legally practice psychology. To renew an inactive license, professionals must reapply for a clinical psychologist's license. This includes completing new forms, paying fees, and communicating with the IDFPR to determine whether they are eligible for a license restoration.

Psychology Resources for Illinois

  • American Psychological Association APA is the country's main organization for professional psychologists. From extensive databases to CE opportunities, APA offers psychologists everything they need.
  • Illinois Psychological Association The state's largest professional association for psychologists, IPA is the go-to destination for local psychologists. The association offers state tax assistance, reimbursement tips, workshops, conventions, and a job board.
  • Association for Psychological Science APS is an international organization that focuses primarily on supporting publications and psychological research. Membership offers access to these materials and networking. Professionals and students may join as members.
  • American Board of Professional Psychology Professionals who earn certification for a psychology specialty often do so through ABPP. Along with certification, the board also offers CE hours and a national convention.
  • American Counseling Association ACA offers various membership levels that include access to CE, a national conference, and networking opportunities.