Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Montana?

By LearnPsychology.org Staff

Individuals planning to become psychologistS in Montana should consider earning a psychology degree in the Treasure State. Each state sets specific licensing requirements for becoming a psychologist, so aspiring professionals in Montana should read on to learn the state's standards.

Montana is among the most affordable states for earning a psychology degree, as colleges charge the fourth-lowest average tuition of any state. The low average tuition cost could be part of the reason Montana has one of the lowest student loan default rates in the nation.

Montana also boasts a low unemployment rate of just 3.4%. Combined with the relatively high number of psychologists employed in Montana, the outlook for future psychologists is promising. The BLS also projects Montana to add more psychologists than some of its neighbors despite having 1.24 psychologists for every 1,000 workers, the third-highest rate in the nation.

What to Expect in a Montana Psychology College Program

Because licensure requires a doctorate, most psychology programs in Montana only offer bachelor's and doctoral degrees, though many students still earn master's degrees in psychology. Some doctoral programs offer students a master's in psychology during their studies.

In 2018, Montana conferred 247 psychology degrees, primarily at the bachelor's level, which typically takes four years to complete. Montana also conferred graduate degrees, though most psychology careers require a doctoral degree. Master's degrees take 2-3 years to complete, and doctoral degrees can take up to six years.

Specializations are not required by the Montana Board of Psychologists, but some doctoral students can select specializations. Schools without specializations allow enrollees to use their thesis projects to specialize. Because Montana is a large state with few cities, students interested in specific areas of psychology may need to relocate to get supervised hours from an expert.

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

Every psychology program is different, but many psychology degrees meet American Psychological Association (APA) standards. While two schools may require different courses, the subject matter at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels are often similar. Below, we have compiled a list of common psychology courses.

General Psychology

This undergraduate course offers an introduction to the field, covering the history of the study and popular figures in psychology history. Students explore major principles and theories to establish a base level of understanding to expand upon in upper-level psychology courses.

Research Design and Analysis

This course, typically required for undergraduate and graduate students, examines research methods for cognition, emotion, and behavior. Undergraduate students in this course analyze research data and conduct experiments.

Psychology of Personality

Typically offered at the undergraduate level, this introductory course explores different facets of personality development and applies these theories to practical examples.

Advanced Psychopathology

This graduate-level course covers epidemiology, etiological theories, and treatment for psychological behavioral disorders. Enrollees focus heavily on research, analysis, and writing.

Clinical Assessment: Psychometric Principles

Commonly offered as a course for doctoral students, clinical assessment sees students assessing patients using various theories and practices. Enrollees demonstrate their understanding of patients by suggesting potential treatments.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Montana

Montana requires psychologists to become licensed. To earn licensure, each candidate must complete a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from an accredited program. If the program does not hold APA approval, you must complete a formal retraining program approved by the APA. Applicants may study through non-APA approved programs, though these candidates must earn specific credits as outlined by the Montana Board of Psychologists.

The first step toward becoming licensed is to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology. While not required, an undergraduate psychology degree teaches the base material that supports a graduate psychology program. Also, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology could boost the quality of your graduate school applications.

The first step toward becoming licensed is to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Montana's basic psychologist licensure also requires two years of supervised experience, one of which must be completed after finishing your doctoral degree. Students can earn some of their required hours while finishing their doctoral degrees, potentially through an internship. APA-approved doctoral programs might also require students to complete a minimum number of clinical hours while earning their degrees.

Students may choose a specialization, though Montana only has one license option for new psychologists. Different specializations may have individual requirements, such as additional supervised hours or courses. However, all new psychologists in Montana take the same exam and earn the same license.

Montana Licensing for Psychologists

Some psychologist careers, including all clinical psychologist roles, require licensure. Licensure isn't required by schools, and not every psychology career requires licensure. However, this process leads to high-paying positions and proves your expertise in the field.

Why Get Licensed in Montana?

All clinical psychologists in Montana require a license. Other careers, such as professor of psychology or school psychologist do not require licensure. Practicing psychologists with at least 10 years of clinical experience can apply for an experienced psychologist license.

Licensing Criteria for Montana

The Montana Board of Psychologists grants all psychologist licenses in Montana. The board follows APA standards, so completing a doctoral degree in psychology through an APA-approved school meets all educational requirements for licensure. In addition to education, applicants must also complete two years of supervised experience, a written exam, and an oral exam. The Montana Board of Psychologists administers the oral exam.

Of the two years (3,200 hours) of required supervised experience, one year (1,600 hours) must take place after earning your doctoral degree. The board also only counts up to six months of supervised research or teaching toward the two-year minimum. Applicants must also submit three work samples from the past two years that meet the board's requirements. Finally, Montana requires each candidate to be at least 18 years old and of good moral character.

Psychologist licensure is for clinical psychologists, while non-clinical roles do not require licensure. Experienced clinical psychologists with at least 20 years of licensure in any state or Canada can pursue senior psychologist licensure. Senior psychologists must also have 10 years of practice within the past 15 years. The board requires an oral exam for senior psychologist licensure.

How to Get Licensed in Montana

Once you've completed your doctoral degree and two years of clinical experience, you must take a national exam and an oral exam. Candidates must receive a passing score on the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP), offered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. The EPPP has two parts (knowledge and skills) and consists of 225 multiple-choice questions. Test-takers have four hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. The EPPP essentially covers everything you learn in an APA-approved doctoral program.

Oral exams take place over two days in Helena, once in November and in April. Applicants must register to take their oral exams at least three months before the test date. Candidates must complete the entire psychologist licensure application three months before the oral exam.

License Renewal in Montana

Psychologists must renew their licenses each year before the end of the year. The renewal period lasts from November through December. Renewing a license after the cutoff results in a late fee. After renewal, your license lasts for another year. A $600 fee is due with each renewal.

Montana psychologists must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years. Your license number determines whether your continuing education hours are due in even or odd-numbered years.

Montana Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Wages for psychologists in Montana follow national trends. From 2016-17, the mean wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Montana increased, along with national mean wages. All other psychologists in Montana saw mean wages drop from 2016-17, as did the same group of psychologists nationally.

According to the BLS, clinical psychologists in Montana earned an annual mean wage of $63,720 in 2018, slightly lower than mean wages in 2017. However, all other psychologists earned a mean wage of $69,870 in 2018, well above 2017's mean wage of $65,070. While wages have fluctuated each year, the data shows that wages are trending upward for these career options in Montana.

Wages for psychologists in Montana follow national trends.

Projections show a significant increase in the number of psychologists in Montana from 2016-26. According to Projections Central, Montana may see a 12.5% increase in the number of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists from 2016-26. During this time frame, projections show all other psychologist positions growing by 16.7% in Montana, well above the national average of 10.3%.

While Montana may not be the highest paying state for psychologists, wages are trending upward and projected growth continues to reach or exceed national levels.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Montana $63,360 $64,370
Psychologists, All Other in Montana $72,630 $65,070
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 Montana and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Montana

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $63,720

    Psychologists, All Other: $69,870

  • North Dakota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $87,090

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • South Dakota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,900

    Psychologists, All Other: $84,200

  • Wyoming

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $78,360

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Idaho

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $64,270

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,410

  • Washington

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,840

    Psychologists, All Other: $102,760

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Montana 12.5% 16.7%
North Dakota 17.2% N/A
South Dakota 11.4% N/A
Wyoming 8.0% 33.3%
Idaho 14.3% 20.0%
Washington 21.5% 10.0%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Montana Frequently Asked Questions

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

According to PayScale, clinical psychologists take home the highest salaries in the field, with the top 10% earning over $100,000 each year. While these psychologists might work for larger companies, some maintain private practices.

Is Psychology a Good Major?

Whether you aim to become a licensed psychologist or find work in a different field, the major offers a broad overview that can apply to many different careers. Psychology majors find work in teaching, social work, counseling, human resources, and general research.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

Most psychology specialties can lead to lucrative positions, so the ideal specialty depends on your interests. For example, an addiction psychologist works to diagnose and treat individuals with substance abuse issues, while a media psychologist studies how people interact with movies, music, and television. Both positions focus on very different material while offering fulfilling work.

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

A Psy.D. focuses on clinical practice, while a Ph.D. concentrates more on research. Both degrees can lead to careers as licensed psychologists, though one degree may apply better to the specific field you have in mind.

Can I Get Licensed If My Degree Is From an Unaccredited Program?

No, Montana requires all licensed psychologists to earn degrees from accredited schools. Furthermore, Montana prefers potential licensees to earn a degree from an accredited and APA-approved program.

Psychology Resources for Montana

  • American Psychological Association APA is the largest organization in the U.S. that represents psychologists. Along with approving psychology programs, APA conducts and publishes research about psychology, hosts an annual convention, offers continuing education credits, and presents leadership opportunities.
  • International Association of Applied Psychology As the largest and oldest international organization for psychologists, IAAPSY provides a platform for global networking and collaboration. This organization allows Montana psychologists to explore career opportunities in Canada.
  • Montana Association of School Psychologists MASP, as a state organization dedicated to school psychologists in Montana, opens membership to students, professionals, and retirees. The association offers benefits like networking, a job board, and training opportunities.
  • Association For Psychological Science APS focuses mainly on research and providing information to professionals around the world, offering conventions, career guidance, and advocacy.
  • National Association of School Psychologists This excellent resource for school psychologists offers books, podcasts, and studies to members. Members can also earn certification, attend a national convention, and receive online training.