Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Nevada?

By Maura Deering

Colleges for psychology in Nevada offered the fifth lowest tuition rates in the nation (combined in-state and out-of-state costs) for the 2019-20 school year. The benefits of studying and working in Nevada include a strong economy and infrastructure, both of which rank among the top 10 in the country.

The University of Nevada, with campuses in Las Vegas and Reno, offers psychology degrees at all levels. The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) sits less than an hour from the beautiful Lake Tahoe area.

Much of the state consists of rural and frontier environments. A recent UNR study found that 100% of rural residents lived in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. These shortages, along with policy initiatives to expand higher education, scholarships, and loan repayment programs, point to Nevada as a state seeking to attract students and practitioners.

What to Expect in a Nevada Psychology College Program

Students typically spend four years completing a bachelor's program, 2-3 years earning a master's, and six years earning a doctorate. Nevada schools ranked 47th among the 50 states for number of psychology degrees awarded in 2018 at all degree levels. This highlights the need for more qualified psychologists.

Undergraduate students at Nevada colleges for psychology take general education classes to fulfill their degree requirements. They also identify specialization areas like child psychology, abnormal psychology, and animal behavior. Graduate students at the best psychology schools in Nevada concentrate on their chosen specialties, such as behavior analysis, clinical psychology, and cognitive and brain sciences.

Most psychology programs require students to complete internships, field trips, and fieldwork in person. Doctoral students must log two years of supervised work experience to become licensed. Nevada requires a doctorate for licensing.

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

Nevada colleges for psychology offer a variety of degree specialties, including dual degrees in such specialties as psychology and law. The list below highlights five courses students often see in psychology programs.

Abnormal Psychology

This graduate-level class covers such conditions as anxiety, dissociative and mood disorders, eating and sleeping issues, substance abuse, schizophrenia, and developmental disorders. Students learn to apply different approaches to defining and treating abnormal behavior while assessing and measuring cultural, developmental, risk, and protective factors.

Foundations of Physiological Psychology

This upper-level undergraduate course provides an overview of the biological bases of behavior. Degree-seekers examine the behavior of complex organisms and physiological mechanisms, such as learning, memory, neurological disorders, sensory processes, and sleep. Common prerequisites usually include introduction to psychology and select biology classes.

History of Psychology

Usually taken in the junior or senior year of study, this course surveys the development of psychology from the ancient Greeks to the present day. Students discuss global and historical contributions to the field, identify the contributors to and progression of thought and theory, differentiate between and find commonalities across psychological systems, and learn critical-thinking skills.

Research Methods

As part of a bachelor's degree program, this course introduces various forms of research used in behavioral sciences. Students learn about the pros and cons of different methods, along with identification and avoidance of common errors. Typically, students develop a proposal for their own research project that includes a hypothesis and an experiment.

Social Psychology and Law

This doctoral-level course examines how social psychological processes interact with legal systems. Topics include the psychology of alternative dispute resolution, juror behavior, plea bargaining, and procedural justice. Learners identify and analyze major controversies, findings, and theories along with empirical research methods and processes.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Nevada

The Nevada licensing board requires psychologists to hold a doctoral degree from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or to obtain equivalent training. Most doctoral programs require a bachelor's degree. Some students also pursue master's degrees prior to a doctorate.

Students do not need to major in psychology for their undergraduate degree. Nevada doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) programs admit students with bachelor's degrees in a variety of fields, such as sociology, computer science, hard sciences, and humanities. However, most programs want to see that applicants have taken core psychology courses as undergraduates.

The process of becoming a licensed psychologist takes about 10 years.

Doctoral students seeking to become licensed must log one year (or 2,000 hours) of internship hours with four hours a week of supervision from a licensed psychologist. Two of those four hours must consist of one-to-one supervision. Bachelor's and master's programs typically do not require internship hours.

The process of becoming a licensed psychologist takes about 10 years. Some specializations may alter the time frame. For example, school psychologists obtain their credentials from the Nevada Department of Education. School psychologists do not need a doctorate and can typically complete their education and training sooner than other types of psychologists.

Nevada Licensing for Psychologists

Nevada offers licenses to graduates of doctoral programs. Nevada psychologists need a license to practice independently, use the title psychologist, and provide direct services to patients. Those without licenses work as assistants or trainees. Fully licensed psychologists benefit from more job opportunities and higher salaries.

Why Get Licensed in Nevada?

All psychologists must hold licenses in Nevada. Specifically, a license is required to test and evaluate patients, diagnose and treat patients, and provide counseling services, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, hypnosis, and biofeedback. Unlicensed psychologists cannot perform these services.

Psychology postdoctoral students who must complete their supervised training register as psychological assistants. They cannot practice psychology on their own until they become fully licensed psychologists.

Licensing Criteria for Nevada

The Nevada Board of Psychological Examiners licenses psychologists and psychology assistants. Both need doctoral degrees from an institution accredited by the APA or equivalent. They must also have logged 2,000 hours of supervised work as an intern during their doctoral program. The board licenses candidates with a Ph.D. in psychology, doctor of psychology (Psy.D.), and doctor of education (Ed.D.).

Upon earning their doctorate, licensure candidates register with the board as psychological assistants to complete their 1,750 hours of postdoctoral, supervised training. Then, candidates apply to become fully licensed.

School psychologists with a master's degree can obtain licenses from the state's Department of Education, which maintains fewer educational requirements. Counselors and therapists also need only earn a master's and undergo different certification processes.

How to Get Licensed in Nevada

Once candidates complete their educational requirements, they register to take two examinations: the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the state examination.

The EPPP contains 225 multiple-choice questions that test applicants' knowledge of psychology. Students can take the test anytime at a testing site and need a score of 500 (or 70%) to pass. Content covers assessment and diagnosis, biological bases of behavior, and growth and lifespan development.

Offered three times per year in Reno or Las Vegas, the state examination covers law and ethics topics, including confidentiality, licensing, reporting, risk assessment and management, and supervision.

While not required, psychologists often focus on a specialization area. Doing so provides direction for graduate studies and career tracks. A specialization in clinical, counseling, or educational psychology generally leads to a variety of opportunities.

License Renewal in Nevada

Nevada psychologists renew their licenses by the end of every even-numbered year. Renewal applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education (CE) through coursework, seminars, or workshops offered by APA-approved organizations or higher-learning institutions. The board limits credits earned through distance education to 15. Six of the 30 CE hours must cover ethics, while two hours must address suicide assessment and prevention.

The board does not permit psychologists to carry over excess credits into the next reporting cycle. CE opportunities not already board-approved may count for credit with an application for approval.

Nevada Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

While salaries for Nevada psychologists fall below the national mean, the data below indicates a narrowing gap between state and national wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. All other psychologists do not fare quite as well in Nevada, with annual pay more than $20,000 lower than the national average in 2018.

That said, salaries in Nevada continue to rise for psychologists across the board. Wages in Nevada rank third among the six western states listed in the table, with only California and Oregon ranking higher.

Wages in Nevada rank third among the six western states listed in the table, with only California and Oregon ranking higher.

However, for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, California and Oregon's job growth ranks lower than Nevada's, pointing to a disconnect between increased job growth and salaries for those states. Nevada's job growth rate of 21.5% far exceeds the national average of 14.2%. Only Arizona and Utah rank higher for job growth, while the salaries in those two states remain on the lower end.

Nevada pay rates have lagged compared to much of the rest of the country since the recession, but state legislation seeks to improve the situation. In 2019, for the first time in a decade, Nevada raised its minimum wage, which could induce a ripple effect that leads to increased salaries for those earning higher incomes.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Nevada $72,800 $78,200
Psychologists, All Other in Nevada $68,170 $69,830
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 Nevada and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Nevada

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $83,760

    Psychologists, All Other: $74,060

  • California

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $108,350

    Psychologists, All Other: $114,860

  • Oregon

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $103,870

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Idaho

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,410

  • Utah

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $80,920

    Psychologists, All Other: $86,340

  • Arizona

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $66,040

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,600

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Nevada 21.7% N/A
California 12.5% 13.0%
Oregon 15.5% -5.0%
Idaho 14.3% 20.0%
Utah 30.8% N/A
Arizona 24.9% 5.0%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Nevada Frequently Asked Questions

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

In Nevada and nationally, clinical psychologists typically earn the most. Those with skills in clinical supervision, diagnosis, and treatment plans fare well in the job market, along with forensic psychologists. The average annual salary comes in just under $80,000 for clinical, forensic, and diagnosis and treatment planning psychologists.

What Is a Good Speciality for Psychology?

Specializing in educational psychology provides options for Nevada psychologists. Students can pursue a master's degree and practice as a school psychologist. They can also pursue an Ed.D. or a Ph.D., which opens doors to high-level administration or supervisory positions in academic, education, or clinical settings.

Are Psychology Licenses from Other States Valid in Nevada?

Those with licenses from other states can apply for licensure by endorsement. Applicants register with the Nevada licensing board, complete application forms showing that the requirements of the jurisdiction in which they hold a license compares to those of Nevada, and take the state exam. Holders of national credentials, or 20-year practitioners, may pursue reciprocity.

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

Graduates of programs not accredited by the APA can petition the board to approve equivalent coursework in professional and scientific standards, psychometrics, research methodology, and statistics, along with biological-, social-, and cognitive-affective bases of behavior. Candidates submit letters from instructors that attest that their program provided the requisite preparation.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

Licenses become suspended 60 days past the renewal deadline. If you apply to the board within two years of the suspension date, the board may reinstate your license upon payment of renewal and restoration fees. After two years, the board reinstates only upon determination that you've remained competent to practice psychology.

Psychology Resources for Nevada

  • Nevada Association of School Psychologists With discounted student rates, this association welcomes members that include school psychologists in training and retirees. NVASP offers professional development opportunities and events, informational resources, and legislative advocacy.
  • Nevada Psychological Association The state affiliate of the APA, this organization supports its members with reduced-fee CE workshops, legislative advocacy, a free referral service, and networking events and online resources.
  • Nevada Psychology Internship Consortium Part of the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, this program offers one-year, full-time internships for doctoral students at training sites in the Reno, Carson City, and Las Vegas areas.
  • PSI CHI With chapters at the University of Nevada and Nevada State College, this international honor society for psychology students offers scholarships, career guidance, networking, mentoring, and research opportunities.
  • State of Nevada Association for Addiction Professionals A chapter of the National Association for Addiction Professionals, this association offers 75 hours of free online CE credits, reduced rates for professional liability insurance, political advocacy, and conferences and workshops.