Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in North Dakota?

By Heather Mullinix

North Dakota colleges offer students a quality education for less than the average cost of tuition. In the 2018-2019 school year, in-state students paid an average of $9,290 in college tuition and fees. Out-of-state students paid a premium of $4,090 for a total of $13,380, resulting in the second-lowest out-of-state costs in the nation. More than 25 colleges offer associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree, including eight colleges for psychology in North Dakota.

Approximately 44% of North Dakota residents hold a college degree. U.S. News & World Report ranked the state 15th overall in its 2019 Best States report, with high marks in opportunity and infrastructure. The state's higher education system ranks fifth, thanks to its two-year graduation rate and law student debt. Only 6.2% of North Dakota students default on their student loans after completing college. The state also reports a 2.5% unemployment rate, which is the fourth-lowest in the nation.

What to Expect in a North Dakota Psychology College Program

The best psychology schools in North Dakota offer students many specializations to complement core courses in psychology and behavioral science. The American Psychological Association (APA) reported 338 students graduated with degrees in psychology in 2018 from the eight schools offering them.

Psychology students in North Dakota can take part in psychological research and clinical internships. North Dakota State University offers five specializations in 14 psychological research labs. A network of psychological and mental health providers offers internship and fellowship opportunities. The North Dakota Human Services Behavioral Health Division brings together mental health providers to collaborate on issues facing the state's residents.

Students should expect to spend at least four years completing their undergraduate degrees. Most master's programs require 2-3 years, and doctoral programs require 5-7 years, including a one-year internship in which students provide supervised psychological services.

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

The curriculum offered by each school varies depending on the available degrees, concentrations, and electives. Some schools keep it broad, while others incorporate interdisciplinary courses for specializations like forensic psychology or health psychology.

Undergraduate courses are typically introductory, touching on the many branches within the field. Graduate-level programs allow students to explore theories and concepts of specific types of psychology. These programs also incorporate practicums and clinical experiences. The courses below are a sampling of classes you may encounter as part of your degree.

Analytics for Social and Behavioral Science

Undergraduates learn the basics of statistical analysis in this course. Researchers in behavioral and social science often work with large sets of information. This course teaches students methods for organizing and comparing data. Students discuss qualitative and quantitative research methods and learn how to develop and test scientific hypotheses.

Psychology of Addictive Behavior

This undergraduate course examines disorders that may lead to addictive behaviors. Students learn about biological, social, and behavioral bases for various forms of addiction, including gambling, food, and substance abuse. The course explores the social acceptance of some habits and how substances can affect brain functions.

Counseling for Diverse Populations

Often included in a master's degree curriculum, this course incorporates cultural diversity and social psychology with clinical applications. Understanding a client's values, attitudes, beliefs, and social experiences can help clinicians develop more effective counseling plans. Psychologists must also understand their ethical obligations to clients of different cultures, races, sexual orientations, and physical disabilities.

Clinical Ethics

Offered at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, this course prepares students to take on the ethical and legal responsibilities of a licensed psychologist. Graduate courses often ask students to examine case studies that address ethics issues during clinical practice or research. The course covers the APA professional code of conduct and local, state, and federal laws regarding recordkeeping, confidentiality, informed consent, and duty to report.

Assessment of Cognitive Abilities

This doctoral-level course teaches students to effectively evaluate a client's cognitive or neuropsychological condition using research-backed methods. Students observe data and testing methods to develop clinical determinations and communicate their findings. The course includes supervised practice administering common assessments to measure client intelligence or identify neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Psychology Program Directory

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in North Dakota

North Dakota requires licensed psychologists to earn doctorates in psychology from APA-accredited programs. Earning a doctorate from a college for psychology in North Dakota takes 8-12 years. Many students start with a bachelor's degree in psychology, though related majors also qualify. Coursework should include introductory courses in human development, statistics and statistical analysis, and behavioral science. Ensure your college or university holds regional accreditation.

North Dakota requires licensed psychologists to earn doctorates in psychology from APA-accredited programs.

Next, many students earn master's degrees in psychology. Schools often require scores from the GRE, a 3.0 GPA, and completion of some prerequisite courses, such as statistics. However, master's programs also welcome applicants from many different academic backgrounds.

The coursework includes an in-depth study of various branches of psychology and usually requires practicums. While requirements vary, most graduate degrees require a capstone project -- like a thesis that demonstrates the student's understanding of course content and academic writing.

Prospective school psychologists must complete a specialist degree of at least 60 credits.

Prospective school psychologists must complete a specialist degree of at least 60 credits. The program must hold accreditation from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). NASP requires the curriculum to include an internship in a school setting.

The admissions process for doctoral programs is highly competitive. Candidates must maintain high academic marks and supplement their applications with practical experiences, such as volunteerism. Often, students must provide recommendations from professors, research directors, or clinical supervisors. A doctoral degree takes 3-7 years, including a one-year clinical internship, and usually concludes with a dissertation. This capstone work includes independent research or a critical review of existing research as part of a scientific paper.

North Dakota Licensing for Psychologists

Professional licensing provides quality assurance for patients. To practice professionally as a psychologist and advertise behavioral health services, individuals need permission from the state. The licensing process includes an evaluation of an applicant's education and training, demonstration of clinical competency through supervised practice, and passing a national exam in psychological principles and practice.

Why Get Licensed in North Dakota?

North Dakota requires licensing for anyone providing psychological testing, such as intelligence tests or personality assessments; diagnosis of mental health or emotional disorders; and counseling, psychotherapy, or other treatments. Services may include consultation with businesses or organizations regarding workplace management.

The state also regulates applied behavior analysts, who work with psychologists to design, supervise, evaluate, or modify treatment programs for individuals or groups diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Failure to obtain the proper license means you cannot serve clients or patients in the state.

Licensing Criteria for North Dakota

The North Dakota State Board of Psychologist Examiners (NDSBPE) administers licensing for clinical and industrial-organizational psychologists in the state. It also oversees licensing for applied behavior analysts. Each applicant must complete the two step-application process, pay the appropriate fees, and pass a national and state exam.

The application initiation form starts the licensing process and includes a $450 fee. Applicants provide information on their education, background, and training. North Dakota also requires membership in the Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS) online system. This system allows psychologists to apply for licensure in any participating state. The PLUS system charges a $200 fee.

Next, applicants must complete their post-doctoral residencies. This supervised clinical practice must include at least two years of psychology work. Your doctoral internship satisfies one year of the requirement. Your supervisor must have at least three years of experience as a licensed psychologist and meet with you regularly to discuss patient assessment, treatment plans, and treatment response.

School psychologists need certification from the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board. This certification only allows school psychologists to practice within a school or education system.

How to Get Licensed in North Dakota

Once you complete your residency, NDSBPE will issue permission to take the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP) and the oral exam. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards charges $600 for exam registration, and Pearson VUE testing centers charge $87.50 to administer the test. Missing your scheduled exam time may result in forfeiting those fees. You must present valid photo identification before you may take the test.

The multiple-choice exam requires as much as four hours and 15 minutes to complete. It includes 225 questions, but only 175 questions count toward your score. North Dakota considers a scaled score of 500 as passing. You receive an unofficial score report immediately. Anyone who needs to retake the exam must wait 90 days.

North Dakota also administers an oral exam based on legal and ethical issues and North Dakota statutes.

License Renewal in North Dakota

Once granted, your psychology license remains valid for up to two years. All North Dakota psychology licenses expire Dec. 31 of every even-numbered year. Renewal requires each licensee to pay a fee and complete 40 continuing education credits.

Psychologists enjoy many options for completing continuing education courses. Mental health and psychological associations commonly offer educational workshops or seminars that meet state requirements. North Dakota colleges for psychology also provide continuing education opportunities through their postgraduate courses. Psychologists also earn credits for research activity or publication of scholarly articles related to psychology. Home study programs offered by approved providers also count toward credit requirements, provided they include an exam.

At least three credits every two years must focus on professional ethics and law. Psychologists who also supervise residents or behavior analysts must also complete at least three hours related to supervision.

North Dakota Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

North Dakota mental health leaders continue to work toward expanded services for residents in the state, especially in areas of prevention and treatment. As a primarily rural state with 90% of its land dedicated to agricultural production, North Dakota has embraced telehealth technology and community-based mental health services.

These statewide efforts continue to expand the need for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in the state. The BLS projects a 17.2% growth in these psychology specializations between 2016 and 2026, compared to national projections of 14.2% growth. North Dakota's employment projections surpass surrounding states as well, as illustrated below.

Pay for these professionals in North Dakota eclipses the surrounding states and ranks among the top 12 states in the nation.

The high demand for psychologists may also drive higher wages in the state. North Dakota's clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn a mean annual wage of $87,090 each year, compared to the national mean salary of $85,340. Psychologists in the bottom 10th percentile earn $43,490, while top wages exceed $128,520.

Nearby states pay psychologists annual mean wages ranging from $63,720 in Montana to $85,860 in Minnesota. Pay for these professionals in North Dakota eclipses the surrounding states and ranks among the top 12 states in the nation. North Dakota residents enjoy a cost of living slightly below the national average as well, with household incomes of $61,843.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in North Dakota $86,810 $84,300
Psychologists, All Other in North Dakota N/A $93,570
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 North Dakota and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • North Dakota

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

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Minnesota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,860

    Psychologists, All Other: $93,310

  • 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

  • Montana

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $69,870

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
North Dakota 17.2% N/A
Minnesota 11.9% 7.1%
South Dakota 11.4% N/A
Wyoming 8.0% 33.3%
Montana 12.5% 16.7%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in North Dakota Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

The best colleges in North Dakota for psychology offer undergraduate students a foundation in psychology theories and an introduction to scientific research. Schools may offer a BS, a BA, or both degree options. Your ideal type of degree depends on your career goals. A BS places greater emphasis on research skills and statistical analysis, while a BA incorporates more liberal arts courses.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

A psychology specialization allows you to focus on one type of psychology or a specific population. For example, psychologists working in school systems may specialize in educational psychology and concentrate on learning disorders or developmental psychology. Experimental psychologists conduct research, while health psychologists develop methods to encourage people to adopt good health habits.

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

Both a Psy.D. and Ph.D. meet North Dakota's educational requirements for licensed psychologists, provided the school holds APA accreditation. A Ph.D. provides more preparation for careers in academia or research, while a Psy.D. emphasizes the practical application of psychology theory and clinical practice.

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

No. North Dakota's laws and regulations require psychologists to complete doctoral programs accredited by APA or the Canadian Psychological Association. APA sets rigorous standards for program admission policies, faculty expertise, curriculum goals, practical learning, and student outcomes. The organization only accredits doctorate-level degrees, certifications, and internships.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

You must maintain your psychology license if you provide psychological services. These services include diagnosing and treating patients, consulting with organizations, or supervising practicing psychologists. The state requires ongoing professional education and a $250 renewal fee every two years. Your continuing education must include professional ethics and legal education.

Psychology Resources for North Dakota

  • North Dakota Psychological Association This APA state affiliate welcomes members from all psychological specialties. Members enjoy ongoing educational opportunities with conferences and regional meetings. The association also provides volunteer opportunities.
  • North Dakota Association of School Psychologists This state affiliation of the National School Psychologist Association promotes education and training standards for educational psychologists. The group hosts conferences and conventions that provide opportunities for networking, continuing education, and advocacy.
  • North Dakota Human Services Behavioral Health Division This state agency leads initiatives to expand mental health services and access for residents. The website includes resources and helplines for individuals seeking behavioral health services.
  • North Dakota Brain Injury Network: Funded by the state's human services department, this network helps provide resources to residents who experienced a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Its annual Mind Matters conference features the latest research on practice strategies and models of care.
  • Hilmert Lab This research lab at North Dakota State University explores the link between mind, body, and environment, especially the impact of stress on individual health. Current projects include psychophysiology and pregnancy studies.