Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Rhode Island?

By Janice Monti

Cost is one of the most important factors when considering Rhode Island colleges for psychology. Although Rhode Island's schools cost more than institutions in neighboring states, increases in in-state tuition and fees have remained at 10% over the past five years.

In states where tuition rates rank higher than the national average, many degree-seekers rely on federal student loans. Although Rhode Island's college debt load is the third highest in the nation, the Ocean State maintains a relatively low student loan default rate of 6.2%. This low default rate indicates that graduates in the state find employment easily, enabling them to repay their student debt.

Career prospects look promising for psychology graduates in Rhode Island. The state ranks fifth in the nation for overall healthcare quality and access. The increasing demand for healthcare and social assistance services accounts for a large percentage of the state's projected 5.9% employment growth between 2016 and 2026.

What to Expect in a Rhode Island Psychology College Program

In 2018, Rhode Island conferred more than 500 psychology degrees, mostly at the undergraduate level. Because all licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists in Rhode Island need a master's or doctorate to obtain a license to practice, degree-seekers interested in more advanced and specialized roles should pursue a graduate degree that aligns with their career goals.

A bachelor's in psychology, which takes approximately four years to complete, prepares students for entry-level positions in the helping professions. However, for many aspiring psychologists, an undergraduate degree is only a stepping stone for admission to a graduate program.

A bachelor's in psychology, which takes approximately four years to complete, prepares students for entry-level positions in the helping professions.

A master's degree, which typically takes two additional years to finish, is the minimum educational qualification for licensure in mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy. All licensed psychologists in Rhode Island need a doctorate to practice legally in the state. Students enrolled in doctorate of psychology (Psy.D.) or doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology programs may spend 4-10 years earning their degrees, depending on coursework, dissertation, and internship requirements.

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

Programs vary across colleges for psychology in Rhode Island. Despite the variations, the best colleges for psychology in Rhode Island give students the comprehensive knowledge and specialized skills to prepare for professional roles. This list highlights a few common courses students often take in undergraduate and graduate programs in psychology.

Introduction to General Psychology

General psychology is the gateway for undergraduates beginning the psychology major. Students explore the history of psychology, natural and social scientific approaches to the discipline, and major theoretical perspectives and research methods. The course introduces the field's major paradigms: developmental, cognitive, behavioral, neurobiological, and clinical psychology.

Psychology of Addictions

This course, taught at both the bachelor's and master's levels, presents theories and techniques for the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of substance use disorders, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring addictions. Topics include at-risk populations, methods for prevention, and relapse responses. Students learn about community support systems as well as legal and ethical considerations that impact addictions counseling and therapy.

Psychological Assessment

Master's students seeking licenses to offer direct services need advanced training in assessment testing, including supervised experience in test administration, scoring, analysis, and applications of test results. Degree-seekers learn ethical and appropriate uses for standardized and non-standardized tests and norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment. Learners develop competency in statistical analysis as well as test theory and construction.

Environmental Psychology

This master's-level course explores aspects of human/environmental relationships, ecological impact of human actions, and sustainability issues. The course addresses the psychological aspects of natural environments, built environments, informational environments, and the social use of space.

Regression and Multivariate Statistical Analysis

Doctoral students must understand and apply advanced statistical techniques in order to conduct quantitative research for their dissertations. This course covers several approaches for the analysis of data with multiple dependent variables: multiple regression, multivariate analysis, discriminant analysis, logical regression, canonical analysis, canonical correlation, and factor analysis.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Rhode Island

Students who plan to enter specific psychology fields should explore the different degree, specialization, and licensing requirements for their intended careers. A bachelor's in psychology can lead to entry-level employment in social and community services, but advanced professional positions generally require graduate training and state licensure.

While graduate psychology programs may admit students with a bachelor's degree in a related field, an undergraduate degree in psychology or in the social sciences provides a strong academic base for a graduate degree.

Students who plan to enter specific psychology fields should explore the different degree, specialization, and licensing requirements for their intended careers.

Licensed counseling and therapy positions in Rhode Island require at least a master's degree. Licensed psychologists need a doctorate from a program approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) and offered by a regionally accredited institution.

Both master's and doctoral degrees require a year or more of supervised professional experience, preparing graduates to obtain licenses that allow them to work directly with clients in clinical settings. Undergraduate programs often include practicum and internship experiences.

Once degree-seekers enter graduate school, they should choose a subfield in psychology as their specialization. The best psychology schools in Rhode Island feature career-specific specializations in an array of high-demand fields, including counseling, clinical, school, and industrial-organizational psychology.

Rhode Island Licensing for Psychologists

Every state, including Rhode Island, requires mental healthcare professionals to receive a state-approved license before they can provide direct psychological services. Specific licensing requirements vary by state, but all psychologists seeking licensure need a Ph.D. or Psy.D. Individuals must also complete supervised experience hours and pass the required exams and background checks.

Why Get Licensed in Rhode Island?

Licensed psychologists in Rhode Island have received approval from the state licensing authority to practice legally in the state. The license authorizes them to provide psychological services to individuals, groups, families, or any public or private organization.

These services entail the application of psychological principles, methods, and techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders. Licensed psychologists may offer counseling, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, behavior analysis, and therapy. They may also conduct psychological testing and evaluation, remediation, and consultation.

Licensing Criteria for Rhode Island

The Board of Psychology -- under the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Department of Health -- oversees the licensing process for psychologists in Rhose Island. All candidates need an APA-approved doctorate or equivalent. The doctorate must incorporate at least 72 hours in psychology courses, excluding internships or dissertation credits and including a minimum of 36 hours earned through in-person instruction. Candidates must also complete 1,500 hours of predoctoral, supervised experience in their doctoral programs.

In addition to the predoctoral hours, candidates must also complete 1,500 hours of postdoctoral supervised experience. After completion of the doctorate, candidates should apply for a temporary psychology permit from the state, which allows them to work under supervision to fulfill licensure requirements.

Following the approval of the temporary application, the state board grants permission to take the national examination for psychology licensure. School psychologists must acquire certification from the Rhode Island Department of Education.

How to Get Licensed in Rhode Island

As soon as candidates receive their temporary applications and begin their supervised experience hours, they may take the required Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

This national exam consists of 225 multiple-choice questions that assess major content areas in psychology, and a minimum passing score is 500. Candidates can take online and in-person practice exams offered through ASPPB. ASPPB administers the test four times a year at more than 275 testing centers across the country, including one testing site in Rhode Island and several more in nearby Massachusetts.

Students pay $687.50 in testing fees for the EPPP. Once registered, candidates must schedule a testing date within 60 days. The state issues the fully approved license shortly after successful completion of the EPPP and submission of all required documentation.

License Renewal in Rhode Island

Psychologists practicing in Rhode Island must renew their licenses by June 1 of every even-numbered year. The state licensing board mails renewal applications a month prior to the due date. Renewal requires completion of 24 hours of continuing education within the two-year renewal period.

Continuing education must have the approval of APA, a state or regional psychology association, the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, or the Rhode Island Medical Society. Psychologists must obtain documentation from each sponsoring organization for all courses, seminars, workshops, or other activities and keep these records in case of an audit by the state licensing board.

Rhode Island Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Individuals who want to work in psychology in Rhode Island can review employment and salary trends below. While the state ranks fourth in the nation in overall access and quality of mental healthcare, the state's level of unmet treatment needs for adults and children continues to drive the expanding demand for licensed psychologists, counselors, and therapists. The Department of Labor projects that jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists will grow 4.3% between 2016 and 2026. Jobs for all other psychology specialties are projected to grow 11.1%.

Compensation for Rhode Island psychologists varies by educational level, type of license, and years of experience. Overall, psychologists' annual salaries and employment projections in the state fall below the national average. The projected growth in jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Rhode Island ranks lower than neighboring states, but the state remains competitive for all other psychology careers.

While Rhode Island's licensed psychologists may not out-earn those in neighboring states, the $83,030 yearly salary for clinical, counseling, and school specialists is much higher than the state's per-capita income of $54,523. The urban area around Providence and Warwick offers a higher average salary of $87,560 for these professionals, with the top 10% earning $139,000 annually.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Rhode Island $81,890 $75,910
Psychologists, All Other in Rhode Island $91,390 N/A
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 Rhode Island and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Rhode Island

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $73,080

  • 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

  • New Hampshire

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $98,410

  • Vermont

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

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Rhode Island 4.3% 11.1%
Massachusetts 11.9% 11.0%
Connecticut 7.4% 11.6%
New York 15.6% 18.2%
New Hampshire 12.2% N/A
Vermont 6.4% N/A

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Rhode Island Frequently Asked Questions

Is Psychology a Good Major?

Psychology ranks among the most popular undergraduate majors. The field offers insights to personal development and leads to an array of lucrative career paths. A bachelor's in psychology qualifies graduates for entry-level positions in the helping professions and provides a strong academic foundation for graduate work in psychology and related fields.

Should I Get a BA or a BS in Psychology?

A bachelor of arts (BA) combines major-related coursework with requirements in humanities and social science. This versatile degree prepares students for graduate work in psychology and the social sciences as well as professional degrees in law, social work, and education. Meanwhile, a bachelor of science (BS) emphasizes natural science and math, appealing to degree-seekers who plan to enter academia after completing research-oriented graduate degrees.

Do I Need a Bachelor's in Psychology to Get a Master's in Psychology?

Master's programs in psychology may admit applicants who pursued non-psychology majors in their bachelor's programs. Depending on the school, individuals without a psychology degree may receive provisional admission that requires them to fulfill certain natural science, math, or psychology core requirements during the first year of study.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

The best psychology schools in Rhode Island encourage degree-seekers to choose a specialty that reflects their professional goals and personal interests. The most popular and in-demand options include clinical, counseling, and school psychology. However, students may explore several subfields addressing the needs of specific groups, such as children or athletes.

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

A Ph.D. emphasizes scientific research, providing training in statistical analysis and methodology. The Psy.D. focuses on professional practice in clinical services. A Ph.D. may take five or more years to finish, primarily because of the dissertation requirement. Students may complete the Psy.D. in 4-6 years, including the required internship hours.

Psychology Resources for Rhode Island

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness - Rhode Island NAMI Rhode Island connects individuals and families to mental health professionals. This volunteer organization offers support services for those with mental illness and provides public education to help reduce and prevent discrimination.
  • Rhode Island Association for Marriage and Family Therapy This independent professional organization provides training, continuing education opportunities, and networking events for marriage and family therapists practicing in Rhode Island. RIAMFT offers discounted membership for students, pre-licensure marriage and family therapists, and retired therapists.
  • Rhode Island Mental Health Counselors Association The Rhode Island affiliate of the American Mental Health Counselors Association advances the profession of licensed mental health counseling in Rhode Island. RIMHCA promotes professional standards and training and sponsors networking events and continuing education training
  • Rhode Island Psychological Association This APA affiliate promotes education, training, and professional development for licensed psychologists in Rhode Island. RIPA also engages in legislative mental health advocacy and sponsors continuing education and networking opportunities.
  • Rhode Island School Psychologists Association RISPA promotes the professional development of Rhode Island school psychologists and advocates on behalf of the mental health and educational needs of children in collaboration with schools, families, and communities.