Kentucky policymakers are increasingly focusing on psychology and mental health, with the legislature considering a statewide mental health first aid training bill. Individuals who want to work in psychology in Kentucky can start by exploring the best colleges for psychology in Kentucky.

This guide details Kentucky colleges for psychology, including what to expect in a psychology program and education requirements. Aspiring psychologists can also learn how to seek licensure and review salary and employment trends.

Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Kentucky?

According to The College Board, Kentucky's colleges and universities offer cheaper tuition than nearby states Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and South Carolina. The state's schools also charge only slightly higher average tuition than neighboring Tennessee and West Virginia.

U.S. News & World Report finds that Kentucky ranks among the best in the nation when it comes to low crime, natural settings, and opportunity, making it an ideal place to live and work. In 2019, the state's unemployment rate hovered around 4.3%.

Numbers from the U.S. Department of Education show that Kentucky's borrower default rate of 12.3% remains a little higher than the national average, but still better than nearby states Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia. When researching the best psychology schools in Kentucky, students should consider how they will fund their degree.

What to Expect in a Kentucky Psychology College Program

Students typically take 3-4 years to complete a bachelor's degree and 1-3 years to earn a master's degree. Learners often need four or more years to complete a doctorate from one of the best colleges in Kentucky for psychology.

In 2018, Kentucky's colleges and universities conferred 1,105 psychology degrees. Most private and public institutions offer at least a bachelor's program in psychology. Many also provide opportunities at the master's and doctoral levels.

Doctoral programs typically feature courses specifically on a student's specialization, providing a highly focused academic experience.

Students seeking a bachelor's degree take a variety of foundational, general education courses. They may need 2-4 semesters of these classes before advancing to psychology-focused coursework. Within a master's program, learners take a few courses focused on general psychology, with the rest centering on their specialization, such as clinical mental health counseling, forensic psychology, or developmental psychology. Doctoral programs typically feature courses specifically on a student's specialization, providing a highly focused academic experience.

Although degree-seekers can explore Kentucky colleges for psychology throughout the state, attending school in a more rural area may limit their opportunities for internships or clinical experience. Learners attending these schools may need to travel longer distances to complete these requirements.

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

The best colleges in Kentucky for psychology offer a variety of courses at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Although options vary by school, Kentucky colleges for psychology offer some common classes.

Introduction to Psychology

This course gives students an introduction to the field, covering topics like mental processes, behavior, statistical reasoning, neuroscience, child development, and social psychology. The class offers a solid foundation for more advanced studies in psychology, as learners examine how key concepts apply to the field.

Social Psychology

Typically an undergraduate course, social psychology explores how interactions with other people affect individuals' personalities, behaviors, and belief systems. Students explore persuasion, altruism, attraction, conformity, communication, and community structures. They learn how social behaviors and symbolic communication influence the way individuals perceive themselves and others.

Psychological Data Analysis

Commonly part of a master's program, this course explores the data analysis used in psychology research. Degree-seekers examine the opportunities and limitations of data collection methods along with processes to analyze both experimental and non-experimental data. Students use statistical software to select and analyze data while examining various accepted procedures and the assumptions they make.

Motivational Processes

Students use the principles of behavioral systems to analyze basic motivated behavior, such as reproducing and consuming food and beverages. The course applies these principles to issues like alcohol and drug addiction, acquired motivation, and positive and negative reinforcement. Learners also examine how motivation relates to goal-oriented behavior.

Human Neurophysiology

This doctoral-level course examines the higher cognitive functioning in relation to neural mechanisms in human beings. Students analyze coordinated sensory representation, language, cortical modularity, attention, and how extracortical systems regulate cortical function. Degree-seekers specializing in neuropsychology typically take this course.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Kentucky

To become a licensed psychologist in Kentucky, students first need a bachelor's degree in psychology or a closely related subject, such as applied behavior analysis or counseling. At the master's level, schools may offer degrees in psychology, school counseling, or developmental and child psychology.

Individuals pursuing a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) from a Kentucky college for psychology should seek programs focused on subjects like clinical, organizational, forensic, or personality psychology.

To become a licensed psychologist in Kentucky, students first need a bachelor's degree in psychology or a closely related subject.

Some bachelor's programs require students to take part in internships. This requirement is more common at the master's level, where most programs include internships or clinical hours through which students work directly with psychologists, counselors, and mental health professionals. Doctoral programs also include this requirement, with students dedicating a significant portion of time to clinical experiences.

A bachelor's degree allows individuals to pursue a variety of career opportunities, such as case managers, rehabilitation specialists, and employment counselors. Those with a master's in psychology can work in even more positions, such as behavioral counselors, substance abuse prevention specialists, family services caseworkers, and program managers.

Professionals with a Ph.D. serve as clinical therapists, neuropsychologists, and administrative hospital psychologists, among other advanced roles. When considering the level of education they need, degree-seekers should consider their career goals.

Kentucky Licensing for Psychologists

Securing a license to practice serves as the next step after graduating from one of the best psychology schools in Kentucky. Receiving a license indicates that professionals have completed the necessary education and training to serve patients. See below for more information on this process.

Why Get Licensed in Kentucky?

Almost all psychology professionals in Kentucky need licensure. Serving as a licensed psychologist requires a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) or a Ph.D. or a doctor of education (Ed.D.) in psychology. Professionals also must secure a license to practice as a psychological associate. These professionals practice under a licensed psychologist's supervision.

Once psychological associates gain five or more years of experience, they may work somewhat independently by seeking licensure as psychological practitioners. At the health service provider designation, professionals can supervise and provide training to psychological associates.

Licensing Criteria for Kentucky

The Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology grants all psychology licenses in the state. A psychological associate license requires a master's degree and the completion of at least 600 hours of supervised clinical experience, along with the submission of three letters of recommendation and a score of at least 400 on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

Professionals applying for a psychological practitioner license must show proof that they possess five or more years of experience as a psychological associate. They must also submit three recommendation letters and possess a score of 500 or better on the EPPP. Individuals also must pass two state exams: one on rules and regulations regarding mental health practice and another on ethical issues in the field.

To secure the health service provider designation, professionals must complete an additional 1,800 hours of supervised professional experience. The Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology also must approve a supervisory plans and goals form.

How to Get Licensed in Kentucky

Students may take the EPPP exam, which includes 225 multiple-choice questions and requires a score of 500 to pass, throughout the year. They also must take the state's two additional exams before securing a license to practice. All applicants pay a $200 application fee.

Kentucky requires licensees to complete at least 3,600 hours of supervised professional experience, with half those hours focused on providing services to patients. Specifically, individuals must complete 1,800 hours through a predoctoral internship and 450 hours from direct patient contact. Individuals must also engage in two hours of supervision and two hours of didactic experiences each week.

Applicants who meet the preliminary requirements may receive a temporary license before taking the exams necessary for full licensing. Once professionals have passed the exams, they can request a full psychology license from the Board of Examiners of Psychology and pay a $250 license fee.

License Renewal in Kentucky

Kentucky's licensed psychologists must renew their licenses every three years, and they should submit all forms before their current license expires. Renewal requires 39 hours of Board of Examiners of Psychology-approved continuing education (CE) during each renewal period. The board also charges a $100 renewal fee.

The Kentucky Psychological Association provides a CE registry that allows professionals to complete these requirements and remain on track toward renewing their licenses. Once renewed, a psychology license remains valid for three years.

Kentucky Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists to grow more than 12% through 2028, far outpacing the overall psychology field, which is projected to grow 4%. At the same time, mean wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists have remained steady over the past several years. Kentucky's projected growth rate for all psychology fields outpaces that in nearby Missouri and Tennessee.

Kentucky's psychology professionals make a little less than the national average. However, considering the state's significantly lower cost of living compared to many other parts of the country, the Bluegrass State remains an attractive place to practice psychology.

The state's mean annual wage for psychologists sits at just over $91,000. In addition, from 2016-17, mean wages increased for Kentucky psychologists, while mean wages declined slightly across the United States.

As the table below indicates, a link appears to exist between projected job growth rates and wage fluctuations over time.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Kentucky $65,810 $63,650
Psychologists, All Other in Kentucky $86,740 $87,970
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 Kentucky and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Kentucky

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $91,020

  • Tennessee

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $69,510

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,260

  • Missouri

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $86,730

  • Illinois

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,410

  • Indiana

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $88,470

  • Ohio

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $75,710

    Psychologists, All Other: $92,900

  • West Virginia

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $59,200

    Psychologists, All Other: $82,970

  • Virginia

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $80,380

    Psychologists, All Other: $97,200

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Kentucky 12.1% 4.8%
Tennessee 13.9% 4.3%
Missouri 16.2% 4.2%
Illinois 5.9% N/A
Indiana 15.4% 13.6%
Ohio 13.4% 8.7%
West Virginia 13.0% 13.3%
Virginia 18.2% 13.6%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Kentucky Frequently Asked Questions

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

According to Glassdoor, psychiatrists earn the most, making between $174,000-$275,000 per year. Clinical psychologists, organizational psychologists, and psychology professors also earn high salaries. In Kentucky and across the country, nearly all psychology fields give professionals myriad opportunities for both job growth and earning potential.

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

Degree-seekers should let their interests dictate their educational path. A bachelor of arts (BA) covers the humanities, foreign language, English, and social sciences. A BA often provides additional opportunities for electives. A bachelor of science (BS) often focuses on the major, with more credits required within the subject area.

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

Learners must focus their master's or doctoral studies in psychology. However, they can start with a bachelor's degree in a variety of subjects. Students should know that admissions departments often prefer applicants with undergraduate degrees in psychology or a relevant field, such as social work, sociology, or statistics.

What is the Difference Between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D. in Psychology?

A Psy.D. may provide a better fit for those who wish to work directly with patients rather than in academia. This track features a strong clinical focus and fewer research and statistics courses, while usually requiring less time to complete than a Ph.D.

Although Ph.D. programs have a competitive admissions process, they tend to provide more options for students. Learners pursuing a Ph.D. focus more on research than practice.

Can I Get Licensed if My Degree is from an Unaccredited Program?

No. In Kentucky and in all other states, students need a bachelor's, master's, and (if desired) a doctorate from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. Graduate programs, employers, and the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology all consider accreditation a basic requirement in their approval processes.

Psychology Resources for Kentucky

  • Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology This public board examines and provides licenses to psychology professionals throughout the state. The board issues exams, reviews applications, and approves or denies individuals seeking licensure. The group works to ensure fairness and equity in these processes.
  • Kentucky Psychological Association Founded in 1932, KPA promotes the psychology profession across the state. The organization offers networking and CE opportunities, conferences, and advocacy all with the goal of leveraging psychology to improve people's lives.
  • Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association A district branch of the American Psychiatric Association, KPMA serves more than 350 professionals focused on preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illnesses. The organization hosts an annual conference, provides networking opportunities, and engages in advocacy at the state and regional level.
  • Kentucky Counseling Association KCA provides CE opportunities that count toward licensing requirements for school-based counselors and other counseling professionals throughout the state. The organization also hosts an annual conference.
  • NetCE NetCE provides a challenging curriculum to help psychologists and other professionals earn the necessary CE credits to attain or renew their licenses in Kentucky. The group offers a list of Board of Examiners-approved courses.