Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Missouri?

By Janice Monti

Degree-seekers enrolling in colleges for psychology in Missouri can expect quality academics, reasonable tuition rates, and ample career opportunities after graduation. Aspiring psychologists can choose from graduate programs that feature career-focused specializations like clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, addiction counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

Missouri has maintained relatively stable tuition fees over the past five years. Annual tuition rates range from $4,500 at the least expensive public institutions to more than $50,000 per year at the private, highly-ranked Washington University in Saint Louis.

State economic indicators also suggest expanding career prospects for psychology graduates. While Missouri ranks 41st out of the 50 states in overall healthcare access, quality, and public health, healthcare and professional services rank among the state's fastest-growing industries. Only 37% of the state's population is college educated, leading to increased demand for licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists.

What to Expect in a Missouri Psychology College Program

Psychology ranks among the most popular fields of study in the nation. Missouri reflects this national trend, ranking 13th in the U.S. for the most psychology graduates. In 2018, the state awarded over 1,500 degrees in the discipline at all educational levels.

The best Missouri colleges for psychology prepare graduates for a variety of professional roles in public and private settings. A bachelor's degree, which usually requires four years of study, can lead to entry-level employment in social services and community agencies. A bachelor's also lays the academic groundwork for graduate-level study.

All licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists must hold advanced degrees to practice in Missouri. A master's in psychology, which typically takes 18-24 months to complete, provides the minimum educational qualification needed to become a licensed mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist. Licensed psychologists must hold either a Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D. to practice. Doctoral degrees typically require four or more years of study, depending on program requirements.

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

While each program maintains slightly different degree requirements, the best colleges in Missouri for psychology provide comprehensive curricula based on key psychological theories, methods, and applications. Many programs also offer training in the discipline's major specializations. Below are some courses commonly offered in undergraduate and graduate psychology programs.

Introduction to General Psychology

Most undergraduate psychology majors begin their studies with this introductory course. Candidates examine the history of psychology, natural and social scientific paradigms, and theories and research methods used to study cognition, personality, and perception. The course also introduces major paradigms in developmental, behavioral, neurobiological, and clinical psychology.

Cognitive Psychology

This undergraduate class explores how humans use mental processes to perceive and understand their environments; ways of gathering, processing, and storing information; and nonverbal and verbal interactions. Students build familiarity with cognitive developmental components related to perception, memory, attention, language acquisition, and reasoning.

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology courses present the clinical criteria used to classify abnormal human behaviors, along with biological, cultural, and social aspects of each. Coursework explores the causes, symptoms, and treatment of psychopathological behaviors including phobias, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and mood and dissociative disorders.

Psychological Assessment

This master's-level workshop provides an overview of psychological assessment methods. Participants receive practical training in formal, norm-referenced, and informal tests, plus theoretical training in appraisal, projective techniques, and clinical interpretation. Lectures emphasize ethical and appropriate assessment applications within culturally diverse settings.

Multivariate Analysis

In this seminar, doctoral candidates learn to conduct quantitative research for their dissertations. Students acquire techniques for collecting, analyzing, and evaluating data with multiple dependent variables. These approaches include multiple regression, multivariate analysis of variance, continuous multivariate distributions, discriminant analysis, logistic regression, and factor analysis.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Missouri

Almost all advanced psychology careers require graduate-level training. While graduate programs may admit bachelor's degree-holders from non-psychology backgrounds, an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related social science provides a strong academic foundation for graduate studies in psychology.

All states, including Missouri, require licensed psychologists to hold a doctorate from an program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and advanced-level substance abuse counselors must hold a master's degree.

Graduate programs typically include a supervised practicum component. Counselors and therapists must complete 3,000 supervised professional experience hours after graduation to apply for licensure. Licensed psychologists must complete a total of 3,500 supervised hours through combined pre- and postdoctoral training.

Students seeking to practice as licensed psychologists in Missouri may spend up to ten years in school and internships before entering the workforce. However, this effort results in tangible rewards, including expanded career opportunities and stronger earning potential. The U.S. Department of Labor projects higher-than-average job growth between 2016 and 2026 for licensed clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. The state anticipates even higher growth rates for substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors.

Missouri Licensing for Psychologists

A psychology license establishes the provider's competency to practice, ensuring public protection, accountability, and transparency. Psychologists in all 50 states must be licensed in order to diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. While specific regulations vary between states, all psychologists seeking licensure must hold a doctorate, complete supervised professional experience hours, and pass national and state examinations and criminal background checks.

Why Get Licensed in Missouri?

The Missouri Committee of Psychologists sets licensing regulations and approves applications. The license allows psychologists to apply psychological principles for treatment and prevention, helping to enhance behavioral and mental health. Licensed psychologists may serve individuals, families, groups, or the public by diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental and emotional disorders.

Missouri recognizes specializations in general, counseling, clinical, and school psychology. Each specialization includes additional licensing requirements.

Licensing Criteria for Missouri

The Missouri Committee of Psychologists grants licenses to psychologists who hold a doctoral degree from an APA-accredited school. The Committee also administers health service provider certification for psychologists who have educational training in clinical or counseling psychology and offer direct client care.

Missouri requires all candidates to complete a total of 3,500 hours of supervised professional experience, including 1,500 hours through an internship during their doctoral degrees. The remaining 2,000 may come from preinternship or predoctoral postinternship hours, further internship hours, or postdoctoral professional experience.

Candidates start the application process when they begin supervised practice. The application requires three letters of recommendation and official transcripts sent directly to the Committee from the issuing school. Once the Committee accepts the application, the candidate completes supervised training and schedules the three required examinations, which are explained below.

Psychologists who plan to engage primarily in research or consulting activities rather than provide direct services do not typically need a state license. School psychologists follow a separate procedure for certification through the National Association of School Psychologists.

How to Get Licensed in Missouri

After receiving an application, the Committee approves candidates for the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) by providing an authorization-to-test (ATT). Candidates must schedule the EPPP within 60 days of receiving the ATT.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards administers the exam four times a year at over 275 testing centers across the country, with test sites in Columbia, Saint Louis, and Springfield, Missouri. EPPP test-takers must pay a $600 application fee and an $87.50 test site appointment fee when they schedule their exam dates. The state accepts a minimum passing score of 500 on the EPPP.

Missouri candidates must also take a written jurisprudence exam that assesses knowledge of the Missouri Psychology Practice Act. The 100-question test requires a passing score of 70. Candidates may take the final oral exam after passing both the EPPP and the state jurisprudence exam.

License Renewal in Missouri

Missouri psychologists must renew their licenses every other year, on or before January 31, in even-numbered years. The state sends renewal notices prior to license expiration dates. Candidates for renewal must complete 40 hours of continuing education within the two years prior to application. At least 15 hours must come from APA-approved, formal continuing education programs or postgraduate coursework or from attending or teaching a graduate-level course or educational seminar.

The Committee may also approve continuing education hours earned through workshops, conferences, and seminars; by attending or teaching undergraduate level courses; and/or through documented individual study. Up to 25 of the 40 hours may come from online coursework.

Missouri Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Several trends contribute to Missouri's favorable employment outlook for psychology professionals. The state's 3.1% unemployment rate falls below the national average and its cost of living ranks fourth in the nation. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center reports the highest levels of employment growth in healthcare and professional services. While most salaries state-wide fall short of the national average, Missouri's psychology graduates can expect greater career opportunities through the next decade.

The following table provides an overview of salary and career prospects for psychology graduates in Missouri. Projected job growth from 2016 to 2026 suggests that the demand for licensed providers will continue to outstrip the supply. The Department of Labor projects a 16.2% increase in clinical, counseling, and school psychologist positions in this time period, compared to a 14.2% national increase. Missouri mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists can expect even higher growth rates.

Career prospects and salary levels for psychologists vary by educational background and specialization, employer type, and professional experience. The mean salary of $76,480 for Missouri clinical, counseling, and school psychologists ranks near the top in comparison with neighboring states for these same occupations, and well above the state's average per-capita income of $46,635.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Missouri $64,560 $64,510
Psychologists, All Other in Missouri $88,400 $83,860
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 Missouri and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Missouri

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $86,730

  • Arkansas

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $69,000

    Psychologists, All Other: $83,030

  • Tennessee

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,260

  • Kentucky

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $91,020

  • Illinois

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,410

  • Iowa

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

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Nebraska

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $66,510

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Kansas

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $65,320

    Psychologists, All Other: $102,910

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Missouri 16.2% 4.2%
Arkansas 17.7% 9.1%
Tennessee 13.9% 4.3%
Kentucky 12.1% 4.8%
Illinois 5.9% N/A
Iowa 16.2% 4.2%
Nebraska 11.3% 11.1%
Kansas 9.3% N/A

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Missouri Frequently Asked Questions

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

Salaries for psychology-related careers vary considerably depending on a professional's degree and license type, geographic location, and professional experience. However, specialists with graduate degrees generally make the most money -- particularly psychiatrists who hold a medical degree. Industrial/organizational psychologists, engineering psychologists, and forensic psychologists enjoy average yearly salaries over $100,000.

Is Psychology a Good Major?

As one of the most popular undergraduate majors, psychology is a pathway to many rewarding careers and provides an academic background for graduate study. Students enter the field to understand their personal development and learn the skills needed to help others coping with mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Should I Get a BA or a BS in Psychology?

A BA curriculum combines major coursework with a liberal arts core, preparing graduates for entry-level careers and advanced studies in psychology, other social science fields, social work, law, or education. A BS emphasizes math and natural science and may best serve degree-seekers who have already decided to pursue a research-focused graduate degree or a career in academia.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

Many schools in Missouri offer high-demand specializations like mental health and addictions counseling, clinical psychology, school psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology. Degree-seekers often choose to serve specific populations through specialized fields, like sports psychology, military psychology, and child psychology. Others enter a newly-emerging specialization such as forensic, neurobiological, or human factor psychology.

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

A Ph.D. in psychology features a research-based curriculum that emphasizes methods and statistical analysis. Most Ph.D. candidates complete a dissertation. The practice-oriented Psy.D. trains graduates to deliver direct clinical services. A Ph.D. may take five years or longer to complete, while a Psy.D. can be finished in 4-6 years of study, including a clinical internship.

Psychology Resources for Missouri

  • Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri MHA-EM works to improve the care and treatment of individuals living with mental illness through advocacy, education, and direct service. The organization offers specialized training and professional development for providers.
  • Missouri Association of School Psychologists MASP strives to improve school psychological practices and increase student access to psychological services. The association advocates for strong standards and ethical rules of conduct for school psychology specialists.
  • Missouri-Kansas Marriage and Family Therapy Network This state AAMFT affiliate addresses marriage and family therapy practitioners in the two-state region. Members receive training, continuing education, and professional networking resources.
  • Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association MMHCA supports licensed professional counselors across the state, offering conferences, workshops, continuing education, and networking opportunities.
  • Missouri Psychological Association Missouri's APA chapter, MOPA, advances the profession of psychology in Missouri. Along with a conference, the organization sponsors educational programs for members and the general public.