Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Louisiana?

By Janice Monti

Louisiana ranks lower than the national average on key public health indicators and healthcare access and quality. In response to these challenges, the state has recently moved forward with multiple mental health initiatives, increasing the demand for licensed psychologists, counselors and therapists.

Over 20 colleges for psychology in Louisiana offer associate, bachelor's, and graduate-level degrees, including four doctoral programs. Many of the best colleges in Louisiana for psychology offer distance learning options along with traditional, campus-based programs. While general psychology, community health, and substance abuse/addiction counseling rank among the most popular specializations, students may also pursue specialties in mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, educational psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology.

Despite increases in tuition and fees over the past five years, Louisiana's educational costs are reasonable, compared to other states. Annual in-state tuition rates fall over $4,000 below the national average, making Louisiana the 12th most affordable state for college attendance.

What to Expect in a Louisiana Psychology College Program

Prospective psychologists begin their careers by earning a bachelor's in the field or in a related discipline. Usually requiring four years of full-time study, a bachelor's degree in psychology qualifies candidates for many entry-level positions and provides an academic foundation for graduate study.

Licensed professional counselors and therapists are required to hold at least a master's degree. A master's takes approximately 18-24 months to complete, not including mandatory supervised professional experience after graduation. In Louisiana, licensed practicing psychologists must hold a doctorate. It can take four or more years to earn a Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D., depending on residency, dissertation, and practicum requirements.

In 2018, Louisiana awarded just over 600 psychology degrees at all levels. The best psychology schools in Louisiana offer career-focused specializations, such as clinical, counseling, and school psychology; mental health counseling; and substance abuse/addictions counseling. Degree-seekers should begin taking specialized courses as soon as they decide on a career path.

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

Every program features different curriculum, specializations, and graduation requirements. However, the best psychology schools in Louisiana provide students with a core foundation in theoretical, methodological, and applied knowledge. Many colleges for psychology in Louisiana offer one or more of the following courses.

Introduction to General Psychology

General psychology courses serve as a prerequisite for most upper division courses in an undergraduate psychology program and provides a comprehensive overview of the discipline. Lessons introduce the history of psychology within the natural and social sciences, major theoretical and methodological perspectives, and contemporary approaches to clinical, developmental, behavioral, counseling, and neurobiological psychology.

Abnormal Psychology

This undergraduate class examines the etiology, symptoms,diagnosis, and treatment of disordered psychological functioning. The course explores psychopathological behaviors, such as depression; phobias; anxiety; substance use disorders; and mood, personality, and dissociative disorders, emphasizing biological, behavioral, social, and cultural influences.

Psychological Assessment

This master's-level workshop offers advanced training in assessment batteries, test administration, scoring, interpretation, test results integration, and report writing. Students examine standardized and non-standardized tests, norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment, statistical analysis, and test theory and construction. Coursework may emphasize ethical and appropriate assessment tools for culturally diverse settings.

Environmental Psychology

Designed for master's students interested in this emerging specialization, this course addresses the psychological dimensions of natural and built environments, social use of space, learning environments, and informational environments. Candidates explore key aspects of human/environmental relationships, the positive and negative ecological consequences of human actions, and sustainability issues.

Regression and Multivariate Statistics

Doctoral students typically complete this advanced statistics course before undertaking dissertation research. Lectures explore data analysis techniques used for multiple dependent variables, familiarizing candidates with multiple regression, multivariate analysis of variance, canonical analysis, canonical correlation, discriminant analysis, and cluster analysis.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Louisiana

Different psychology careers require different degrees. While a bachelor's may lead to entry-level roles in the helping professions, more advanced opportunities require a graduate degree. Mental health counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists are all expected to hold a master's degree. Licensed psychologists must hold a doctorate accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

While graduate programs may admit students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than psychology, a bachelor's in psychology or a related social science provides a strong academic foundation for graduate work. In addition to coursework, almost all graduate students must complete a year or more of practicum hours. Some undergraduate programs also offer voluntary internships, which provide students with valuable practical experience in clinical settings.

In Louisiana, licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists must complete additional practicum hours after graduation to comply with state regulations. Most licensed psychology positions in Louisiana require candidates to complete a total of 4,000 hours of pre- and post-degree supervised professional experience to receive state approval to practice. The state of Louisiana also requires additional practicum hours for applied healthcare specializations, adding 300 hours of direct clinical supervision to the required 4,000 hours.

Louisiana Licensing for Psychologists

All fifty states require practicing psychologists to be licensed. While each state regulatory board establishes its own laws governing licensure, candidates generally must hold an APA-accredited doctoral degree, complete supervised professional experience hours, and pass the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Depending on the state, candidates may also have to pass a jurisprudence test and an oral exam.

Why Get Licensed in Louisiana?

Licensed psychologists in Louisiana provide services to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and the public. They test and evaluate clients, and diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse. Louisiana is one of only five states granting psychologists prescriptive authority to treat mental and emotional disorders with psychotropic medications. The state recognizes clinical, counseling, school, and clinical neuropsychological specializations for licensing.

Licensing Criteria for Louisiana

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychology administers licenses for candidates who have completed an APA-approved doctoral program, including at least three years of residency and 2,000 hours of supervised professional experience. Graduates must complete at least another 2,000 hours of supervised experience after earning their doctoral degree.

Candidates seeking licensing in clinical, counseling, and school psychology specializations must fulfill additional requirements. These individuals must complete 300 practicum hours and 1,500 hours in a post-practicum internship.

Clinical neuropsychology specialists pursuing licensure must complete a basic core psychology curriculum and a clinical core curriculum that covers psychopathology and psychotherapeutic intervention techniques. They must also complete a field internship and a 2,000-hour postdoctoral supervised fellowship.

All candidates must achieve a satisfactory score on the national EPPP exam and state-administered tests before receiving approval for the license.

How to Get Licensed in Louisiana

Louisiana candidates for licensure must pass three examinations. Those seeking a provisional license are required to pass the board-administered jurisprudence exam, which covers legal and ethical procedures governing psychology practice in Louisiana. Licensees must return this exam to the board within 30 days.

After receiving a provisional license, candidates may take the EPPP exam. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) administers this national, computerized test four times a year at over 275 testing centers across the country, including four sites in Louisiana. Test-takers must submit a $600 application fee and $88 test appointment fee when they schedule their exam date. Louisiana requires licensing candidates to achieve a scaled score of 500 or higher.

Candidates who complete all supervised professional experience hours and successfully pass the EPPP may then take the oral exam. This exam, which costs $250, serves as the final step in acquiring the full license.

License Renewal in Louisiana

Psychologists must renew their licenses each year before July 31. Candidates for renewal must complete and document 40 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) hours every two years. During this time period, licensed psychologists must complete at least two CPD hours in ethics or law. They must also fulfill hours in two of the following areas: professional activities, academic activities, and traditional activities.

The state approves CPD hours acquired through accredited higher education institutions, the APA, regional or state psychology associations, or the Louisiana Board of Health. License-holders must submit a $350 fee with their online renewal application.

Louisiana Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

The following table provides an overview of psychology-related employment trends and salary prospects in Louisiana. Although the statistics suggest uneven salary growth, opportunities for licensed specialists are expected to increase statewide.

Historically, mean annual salaries in Louisiana fall somewhat below the national average for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, and for those classified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as all other psychologists. However, the 2018 average salaries for licensed psychologists in the high-demand clinical, counseling, and school specializations rank slightly higher than the national average and significantly higher than salaries for these specializations in neighboring states.

While projected job growth for psychologists in Louisiana lies below the national average, the state's economic indicators suggest a favorable economic outlook for professionals entering the field within the next decade.

While projected job growth for psychologists in Louisiana lies below the national average, the state's economic indicators suggest a favorable economic outlook for professionals entering the field within the next decade. The state's economy continues to recover from a recession, adding a record high number of 58,000 new jobs through 2020-21. Louisiana also enjoys a lower unemployment rate than its neighboring states and the 17th lowest cost of living in the nation.

Recently, the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health has spearheaded an initiative to address key outcomes for community health and substance abuse disorder services. While striving to improve residents' quality of life, this initiative may also provide broader opportunities for licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Louisiana $73,520 $72,490
Psychologists, All Other in Louisiana $71,850 $75,460
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 Louisiana and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Louisiana

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $86,63

    Psychologists, All Other: $76,510

  • Texas

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,650

    Psychologists, All Other: $90,780

  • Mississippi

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $67,570

    Psychologists, All Other: $81,610

  • Alabama

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $69,070

    Psychologists, All Other: $90,050

  • Oklahoma

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $60,760

    Psychologists, All Other: $89,300

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Louisiana 11.4% 9.1%
Texas 20.0% 9.2%
Mississippi N/A 14.3%
Alabama 12.8% N/A
Oklahoma 15.9% N/A

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Louisiana Frequently Asked Questions

Is Psychology a Good Major?

This popular undergraduate major appeals to candidates who desire to understand themselves and gain insight into others' behavior. A versatile discipline, psychology provides a strong foundation for graduate work in the social sciences, social work, law, and education.

Should I get a BA or a BS in Psychology?

The answer depends on your professional and academic goals. A BA combines liberal arts coursework with major-specific study, preparing graduates for entry-level employment or graduate study. BS curricula tend to emphasize math, science, and laboratory courses, appealing to psychology majors who have already decided to pursue research-focused graduate degrees.

Do I Need a Bachelor's in Psychology to Get a Master's in Psychology?

Applicants to master's programs in psychology must hold a liberal arts, social science, or natural science degree. While some master's programs may offer provisional admission to bachelor-degree holders in non-psychology fields, they may first need to fulfill math, science, or psychology prerequisites.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

Aspiring psychologists can choose from an array of specializations that align with their career goals or research interests. While clinical psychology, mental health counseling, school psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology rank among the most popular options, opportunities have expanded in emerging fields like forensic psychology, neuropsychology, and human factor psychology.

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

A doctor of philosophy, or Ph.D., in psychology provides a research-focused plan of study built on statistics and methodology that typically includes a dissertation. The Psy.D., or doctor of psychology, emphasizes clinical services delivery. Students may complete a Psy.D. in 4-6 years, including a required clinical internship or practicum, while a Ph.D. may take between 5-7 years.

Psychology Resources for Louisiana

  • Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers This association supports addiction professionals and providers working in treatment, education, prevention, and advocacy. An Approved Educational Provider, the LASACT provides workshops, training, and test preparation materials.
  • Louisiana Psychological Association Louisiana's APA affiliate, LPA provides professional development resources for public and private psychologists across the state. The association hosts continuing education opportunities, workshops, and conferences.
  • Louisiana School Psychological Association LSPA supports Louisiana school psychologists through conferences, annual awards, and professional development opportunities. Students pay reduced membership rates.
  • Louisiana Counseling Association LCA represents professional counselors in work settings throughout Louisiana. The association sponsors an annual conference and mentoring institute, provides annual awards for distinguished service and research, and offers continuing education programs.
  • National Alliance on Mental Health-Louisiana This nonprofit organization unites behavioral health professionals, family members, and the general public, promoting awareness on mental health issues affecting the state.