Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Massachusetts?

By Ndidi Susan Emeagwali

Massachusetts offers one of the nation's best places to live and work, ranking eighth overall by U.S. News & World Report, and ranking first for education. The state also ranks second for healthcare and seventh for economy. Unsurprisingly, the fields of education and health services employ the most workers in the state. These rankings paint a picture of opportunity and prosperity for learners interested in psychology careers in Massachusetts.

New England's most populous state, Massachusetts contains some of the nation's most prestigious schools, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both schools place in the top 10 of a U.S. News & World Report ranking of the nation's best psychology schools. Several other Massachusetts schools also make the list, cementing the state as a great place to earn a degree from a top-ranked institution.

The College Board finds that college tuition for in-state students attending public four-year institutions in Massachusetts averages about the same as Connecticut. Degree-seekers pay lower tuition in Massachusetts than in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Out-of-state students who attend Massachusetts' four-year public colleges pay about $30,000, higher than the $26,800 national average.

Degree-holders from Massachusetts colleges for psychology enter a job market with a 2.9% unemployment rate -- one of the lowest in the nation. Massachusetts also boasts a 5.8% student loan default rate, one of the nation's lowest.

What to Expect in a Massachusetts Psychology College Program

Degree-seekers begin their psychology education with a two-year associate or four-year bachelor's in psychology or another major in the behavioral sciences. A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete. Students can accelerate degree completion by transferring an associate degree or some of its credits. Many online learners complete a master's degree in two years if they enroll full time. Depending on the program, faculty may allow online students to complete some practicum experience in their local communities.

Massachusetts requires aspiring psychologists to earn a doctorate for licensure. The time it takes to complete a doctoral degree depends on whether students pursue a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology, a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.), or a doctor of education (Ed.D.).

The time it takes to complete a doctoral degree depends on whether students pursue a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology, a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.), or a doctor of education (Ed.D.).

In 2018, 40% of psychology doctoral students chose to specialize in clinical psychology. Other specializations include general psychology, 28%; counseling psychology, 7%; educational psychology, 5%; and school psychology, 5%. The remaining learners chose other research and psychology subfields. Specializations vary by school.

In 2018, Massachusetts universities conferred 2,912 psychology degrees at all levels, ranking sixth in the United States.

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

Massachusetts colleges for psychology offer courses depending on faculty expertise areas. Undergraduate students take courses exploring subjects in general, developmental, and social psychology. Graduate students specialize in areas of clinical, forensic, and industrial-organizational psychology. The section below highlights some common courses.

General Psychology

This course introduces learners to the field's major theories, classical and contemporary psychologists, and research methodologies. Learners examine the many subfields of psychology, such as neuroscience, cognitive, developmental, and industrial-organizational psychology.

Positive Psychology

Psychology departments offer this increasingly popular undergraduate course to educate students about this relatively new subdiscipline. Degree-seekers explore positive psychology's impact on physical and mental health, stress mitigation, workplace happiness, and healthy relationships. Graduate students dig deeper by examining advanced concepts and conducting research on positive psychology's impact on the human experience.

Forensic Psychology

Undergraduates receive an introduction to this subdiscipline, including a review of how forensic psychologists apply psychological theory to legal cases and criminal investigations. Faculty explore the use of forensic psychology to interview witnesses, clinically assess witness competency, select a jury, and help determine cases.

Social Psychology

Learners study people's traits, attitudes, and goals to understand why they behave in certain ways in given situations. Social psychologists study concepts like romantic attraction, prejudice, persuasion, aggression, and altruism. Some graduate students specialize in this subdiscipline, which requires research on social psychological processes in labs and other contexts.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

This area of psychology focuses exclusively on the application of psychological theories and concepts within organizations and occupational environments. Faculty use the scientist-practitioner model to train graduate students how to motivate employees, improve hiring practices, develop efficient training programs, and use psychology for effective management.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Massachusetts

Aspiring psychologists begin their education with an undergraduate degree in psychology or another major in the behavioral sciences. Graduate students specialize in one of the subdisciplines of psychology. To qualify for a license as a psychologist in Massachusetts, individuals must complete a doctoral program in psychology from a program approved by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists or Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

Those with a doctorate from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) also qualify. The program must encompass at least three years of full-time doctoral study and include a curriculum core that examines a history of psychology, research design and methodology, statistics and psychometrics, and scientific and professional ethics and standards. Degree-seekers must demonstrate mastery in five core areas: biological bases of behavior, cognitive affective bases of behavior, social bases of behavior, individual differences, and racial/ethnic bases of behavior with a focus on people of color.

Doctoral students must also complete course requirements in specialty areas like clinical, counseling, or school psychology. Learners receive hands-on experience in their specialty when they complete an internship, supervised practica, or field or laboratory training. The degree culminates with a dissertation or an equivalent.

Massachusetts Licensing for Psychologists

All 50 states require that psychologists obtain a license to practice. This ensures that psychologists render services at a certain standard. This section gives in-depth information about the licensure process in Massachusetts.

Why Get Licensed in Massachusetts?

Licensed psychologists in Massachusetts qualify to:

  • Assess clients and render psychological services to address behavioral problems
  • Diagnose and treat mental health disorders, such as anxiety and addiction
  • Provide behavioral health and counseling services to individuals, groups, and organizations

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists represent the state's largest segment of specialized psychologists, according to Projections Central. All three specializations require the same educational and training requirements for licensure.

Licensing Criteria for Massachusetts

The Board of Registration of Psychologists licenses psychologists to practice in Massachusetts. In addition to a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D., the board requires aspiring psychologists to complete a total of 3,200 hours of supervised experience. During a 1,600-hour pre-internship that counts toward these hours, individuals must spend at least 25% of their time in direct contact with clients, totaling at least 400 hours.

Students subsequently complete a year of postdoctoral supervised experience totaling 1,600 hours. In this capacity, trainees spend at least 50% of their time performing services, such as interviews, assessment, treatment/intervention, report writing, and case presentations. Postdoctoral students spend at least 25% of the 1,600 hours engaged in face-to-face contact with clients or patients.

During internship and post-internship training experience, individuals receive a minimum of one hour of supervision for each 16 hours of work. This includes at least one hour of individual supervision each week.

How to Get Licensed in Massachusetts

Individuals must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) to obtain a license in Massachusetts. They submit an application to the Board of Registration of Psychologists, which reviews applicants' eligibility to take the EPPP. Applicants must successfully pass the EPPP within three calendar years from the date the board approves the application.

The ASPPB developed the 225-question multiple-choice exam. Pearson VUE administers the EPPP for a $600 fee. The exam covers eight areas, including cognitive-affective bases of behavior, biological bases of behavior, social and cultural bases of behavior, and growth and lifespan development. Candidates need a passing score of at least 500 out of 800 in Massachusetts.

Professionals must also pass the Massachusetts jurisprudence examination, a computerized multiple-choice exam that tests applicants' knowledge of state rules and regulations. Applicants must receive a passing score. Candidates who pass both exams and intend to provide client services must apply for health service provider certification.

License Renewal in Massachusetts

Psychologists must renew their license every two years. Professionals must submit a renewal application and the required fees prior to the license's renewal/expiration date. To qualify for renewal, the licensee must fulfill 20 hours of APA-approved continuing education (CE) per renewal period. Applicants who fail to renew the license for more than two renewal periods may need to retake the EPPP and jurisprudence exams.

Massachusetts Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 14% growth in jobs for psychologists around the nation. In Massachusetts, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists comprise the largest segment of psychologists, according to Projections Central. Approximately 5,120 of these specialized psychologists work in Massachusetts, and new psychologists vie for 400 average annual openings. Comparably, 180 industrial-organizational psychologists work in the state. These psychologists compete for an average of 20 spots.

The annual mean wage for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Massachusetts stands at $86,490, compared to $90,870 in neighboring Connecticut, $94,140 in New York, $77,670 in Vermont, $84,270 in New Hampshire, and $83,030 in Rhode Island. Projections Central forecasts an 11.9% increase in jobs for these psychologists in Massachusetts from 2016-26. Massachusetts outperforms Vermont and Rhode Island, which post projected job growth rates of 6.4% and 4.3% for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

New York and New Hampshire boast projected growth rates of 15.6% and 12.2% from 2016-26. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH ranks as the nation's sixth metropolitan area with the highest employment level in this occupation, employing 2,530 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. Aspiring psychologists should consider other metropolitan areas, such as Providence-Warwick, RI-MA, Springfield, and Worcester, which all need hundreds of psychologists with specialized training from the best colleges in Massachusetts for psychology.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Massachusetts $75,550 $83,660
Psychologists, All Other in Massachusetts $80,230 $82,440
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 Massachusetts and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Massachusetts

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $86,490

    Psychologists, All Other: $83,550

  • Connecticut

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $90,870

    Psychologists, All Other: $96,180

  • New York

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $94,140

    Psychologists, All Other: $99,640

  • Vermont

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $77,670

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • New Hampshire

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $84,270

    Psychologists, All Other: $98,410

  • Rhode Island

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $83,030

    Psychologists, All Other: $73,080

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Massachusetts 11.9% 11.0%
New York 15.6% 18.2%
Vermont 6.4% N/A
New Hampshire 12.2% N/A
New York 15.6% 18.2%
Rhode Island 4.3% 11.1%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Massachusetts Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

Students interested in clinical careers often choose a bachelor of science (BS) to obtain hands-on lab experience and to conduct research with faculty. A bachelor of arts (BA) focuses on the liberal arts, which allows for less scientific exploration.

What is a Good Speciality for Psychology?

Psychology offers many specialization opportunities. Degree-seekers can browse APA's website for more information on 54 divisions that cover subdisciplines and various interest areas. Massachusetts offers far more job opportunities for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists compared to other psychologists, such as industrial-organizational psychologists.

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

A Ph.D. best suits degree-seekers interested in research positions. They receive training as a scientist-practitioner and conduct research that adds to the field's existing body of knowledge. Individuals who want to work with clients in a clinical environment should choose the Psy.D.

Are Massachusetts Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?

Out-of-state psychologists typically apply for licensure by endorsement. Professionals who can demonstrate that their license remains in good standing in their jurisdiction typically do not need to retake the EPPP. Psychologists with a Massachusetts license may need to pass the new state's jurisprudence examination and background checks. Individuals who allow their license to lapse or expire may need to meet different requirements.

What Happens if I Don't Renew My License?

Psychologists in Massachusetts must renew their license every two years, or it lapses/expires. Professionals must submit a completed renewal application before the license lapses. To qualify for renewal, the licensee must complete 20 hours of APA-approved CE per renewal period.

Psychology Resources for Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Psychological Association MPA strives to promote psychology and the public welfare. The association lobbies on behalf of the field to ensure psychologists' input in matters of government, academia, and the business sector. Member benefits include CE opportunities, a mentorship program, practice tools and resources, and free legal counsel.
  • American Psychological Association APA is the nation's leading scientific association representing psychology. The organization boasts a membership of 118,000, which includes students, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. Members receive access to professional development, publications, a career center, and professional liability insurance.
  • Massachusetts School Psychologists Association MSPA advocates for children's needs and the value of school psychological services. The organization supports members by providing access to professional development, scholarships, and networking events.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy For 30 years, the academy has worked to improve patients' mental health by promoting innovative teaching methods, educational research, and technology. The academy boasts 65,000 members around the world, including many psychologists. Membership is free and includes access to CE, publications, and discounts on live conferences.
  • Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, Inc. MaMHCA provides professional support to counselors, students, educators, and other mental health professionals. Member benefits include access to CE, an online newsletter, job listings, career fairs, and supervisor training and certification.