Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Tennessee?

By LearnPsychology.org Staff

Students enjoy affordable tuition rates at the best colleges in Tennessee for psychology. For in-state and out-of-state learners, Tennessee schools' average cost for tuition and fees is lower than the average costs of Kentucky, Alabama, and Virginia institutions. Out-of-state costs at Tennessee schools are also similar to the average tuition and fees from Georgia schools. The state's mean tuition and fees are also lower than national averages.

Tennessee boasts a lower unemployment rate than neighboring states like Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina. Student loan default rates for Mississippi and Kentucky also surpass Tennessee's 11.5% figure. U.S. News & World Report lists Tennessee as the most fiscally stable state.

Combined, these factors indicate that students can pursue low-cost education in Tennessee with confidence in future career and financial opportunities.

What to Expect in a Tennessee Psychology College Program

Psychologist licensure in Tennessee requires a doctoral degree. The best psychology schools in Tennessee may necessitate fieldwork and dissertations for doctoral programs, often requiring more than five years for degree completion.

To prepare for a doctorate, individuals can pursue a bachelor's and master's degree in psychology. Bachelor's programs typically require four years and incorporate coursework on development and counseling. A master's may take around two years to complete and generally cover more advanced psychological ideas.

Bachelor's programs typically require four years and incorporate coursework on development and counseling.

Colleges for psychology in Tennessee may offer specializations for undergraduate and graduate degrees. These specializations reflect career fields like health, media, and school psychology. Graduate specializations allow students to focus more closely on specializations since bachelor's programs usually require electives and general education coursework.

In 2018, Tennessee colleges and universities awarded 2,406 psychology degrees, which indicates that the state's programs are designed for success. These credentials included 1,964 bachelor's, 350 master's, and 92 doctoral degrees.

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

The best colleges in Tennessee for psychology offer specializations that influence curricula. A focus in addiction, for instance, would include more classes on substance abuse than a pediatric concentration. Even though courses vary among schools, programs typically cover general psychology elements. We have compiled a list of common classes below.

Statistics in Psychology

Students learn to gather data and interpret results to reach conclusions. Courses may address ways to present statistics, such as graphs and charts, and familiarize learners with statistical concepts in correlation, regression, and probability. Departments may require these courses for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Theories of Personality

Classes introduce degree-seekers to theories on personality development and the impact of personality on mental health and behavior. Students examine the history and flaws of theories to use these concepts when helping patients. Bachelor's and master's programs may require these courses.

Social Psychology

Courses explore how behavior, thought, and mood change in different social situations. Topics include persuasion, attraction, and groupthink. These classes also guide learners in using this information when treating individuals with mental or behavioral problems. The best colleges in Tennessee for psychology may require these courses in bachelor's programs.


Learners study theories and techniques for psychological counseling. Classes also cover ethical concerns for counselors, ways for determining patients' needs in sessions, and cultural factors to consider when counseling. Bachelor's and master's programs may include these courses, particularly for clinical focuses.

Child Psychology

Classes address human growth until adulthood, including emotional, linguistic, cognitive, and physical development. This exploration includes theories and current research. Students also learn about abnormal development, along with the cultural and environmental influences on growth. Departments may include these courses in bachelor's or master's curricula.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Tennessee

Becoming a licensed psychologist in Tennessee calls for a doctorate. This degree should come from a program recognized by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) and the Council for the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (CNRHSPP). Specifically, these programs should surface on the groups' Designated Doctoral Programs in Psychology list.

Other doctoral options include degrees that the American Psychological Association (APA) considers as professional programs. The board may also substitute educational requirements for fieldwork or training if applicants are licensed outside of Tennessee and hold degrees from before 1982. This substitution process, though, requires a waiver by petition.

For doctoral programs that are recognized by ASPPB and the CNRHSPP, only clinical, counseling, or school degrees may apply toward the health service provider (HSP) credential. Each HSP applicant must also complete an internship with a minimum of 1,900 hours earned in 1-2 years. This experience must occur during doctoral programs but before the dissertation. The board insists candidates complete this fieldwork under supervision at health services organizations where they do not work.

Tennessee Licensing for Psychologists

Licensure ensures that practicing psychologists possess the necessary knowledge and experience to deliver care for psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues. Tennessee's steps for earning a psychologist license may vary, based on specialization, but they typically include a doctorate, fieldwork, recommendation letters, and a standardized exam.

Why Get Licensed in Tennessee?

Licensed psychologists in Tennessee can deliver tests for mental, emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems, and then evaluate test results to determine treatments. Candidates can also offer individual or group counseling for concerns like addiction and marital problems. However, residents can only use their licenses in settings that reflect their areas of expertise, based on education and fieldwork.

Tennessee offers similar licenses for marital and family therapists, professional counselors, and clinical pastoral therapists.

Licensing Criteria for Tennessee

The Board of Examiners in Psychology oversees licensure in Tennessee. An HSP candidate must complete at least 1,900 hours of experience after earning a doctorate. This experience must include face-to-face hours with supervision by a state psychologist who qualifies as an HSP. HSP applicants may not count therapy or programs that concern self-development toward this experience.

Candidates should obtain provisional licenses before completing this fieldwork. Exceptions include in-state fieldwork through programs with APA accreditation or recognition from the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. The board may excuse individuals who are licensed in other states and hold pre-1982 doctorates from this postdoctoral fieldwork.

Other requirements for licensure include recommendation letters from specific individuals. The HSP designation calls for a letter from someone connected to the doctoral internship. A general psychologist credential, though, mandates letters from psychologists. Applicants must also submit transcripts and proof of identity, including birth certificates.

How to Get Licensed in Tennessee

Candidates must take the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP), which is administered by the ASPPB and addresses foundational concepts like assessment and behavior. The EPPP costs $600 and includes 225 questions in multiple-choice format. Applicants can complete this exam in writing or on a computer. For the computer version, individuals must earn a score of at least 500. Written exam scores must be comparable to 70% by ASPPB standards. The ASPPB allows test-takers four chances to pass the test each year.

The board also requires the ethics and jurisprudence examination for licensure. This exam covers state regulations and ethical concerns in psychology. Applicants must finish this exam in two hours at a board office and earn a minimum score of 90%. Candidates may retake this open-book exam after 60 days if they do not pass. Individuals can keep attempting this exam until they pass, but the board limits test-takers to four retakes per year.

License Renewal in Tennessee

Tennessee psychologists must renew their licenses every other year. This process calls for 40 continuing education hours. Candidates must complete these hours through approved type I, type II, and type III continuing education opportunities.

Type I continuing education hours include academic experiences and programs. Students can earn a maximum of 20 type I continuing education hours online. Type II experiences can include internships, classes, and American Board of Professional Psychology exams. Type III continuing education hours may include presentations, published articles, and participation in psychology groups. Renewal also requires three continuing education hours related to cultural issues relevant to psychology.

Tennessee Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Mean annual wages for Tennessee psychologists have steadily dropped since 2016 in most instances. For clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, 2018 candidates averaged nearly $5,000 less than 2016 workers. General psychologists' mean annual wages in Tennessee decreased between 2016 ($85,670) and 2017 ($80,090) by over $5,000, but increased to more than $87,000 in 2018.

National clinical, counseling, and school psychologists took home a mean annual wage of $78,690 in 2016, $81,330 in 2017, and $85,340 in 2018, which indicates a steady rise. Mean annual wages for general psychologists, though, decreased by over $1,000 between 2016 and 2017, and then increased to $95,610 in 2018, which is higher than either previous year.

These averages may reflect growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Specifically for Tennessee, the BLS projects a 13.9% growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists and 4.3% for general psychologists. Many more clinical, counseling, and school psychologist positions should surface, so the less competitive environment could cause lower wages. The low growth projection for general psychologists, on the other hand, indicates professional competition and higher salaries.

All mean wages for Tennessee in the following tables are lower than the annual mean wages for psychologists in the U.S. and neighboring states. However, Tennessee's annual mean wages are all higher than the Social Security Administration's average U.S. pay for 2018, which was $52,145.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Tennessee $74,280 $71,340
Psychologists, All Other in Tennessee $85,670 $80,090
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 Tennessee and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Tennessee

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $87,260

  • North Carolina

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $77,470

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Georgia

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $89,190

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,940

  • Alabama

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $69,070

    Psychologists, All Other: $90,050

  • Mississippi

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $67,570

    Psychologists, All Other: $81,610

  • Arkansas

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $83,030

  • Missouri

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $86,730

  • Kentucky

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $91,020

  • Virginia

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $80,380

    Psychologists, All Other: $97,200

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Tennessee 13.9% 4.3%
North Carolina 15.3% 7.1%
Georgia 17.4% 9.5%
Alabama 12.8% N/A
Mississippi N/A 14.3%
Arkansas 17.7% 9.1%
Missouri 16.2% 4.2%
Tennessee 13.9% 4.3%
Virginia 18.2% 13.6%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Tennessee Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

BA and BS programs emphasize similar concepts, such as development, mental health, and behavior. These similarities may lead to the same career options, according to APA. Program elements like courses, fieldwork, and specializations may affect career options more than degree titles.

Do I Have to Major in Psychology to Become a Psychologist?

Graduate degrees should be in psychology for a Tennessee psychologist license. However, Tennessee colleges for psychology may accept graduate students with bachelor's degrees in other fields, such as social work, counseling, human resources, and history. To best prepare for graduate studies, though, candidates should strongly consider studying psychology for their bachelor's.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

Specializations address topics that are relevant to certain professions. As examples, a pediatric focus includes coursework that relates to helping children with mental or behavioral problems, and a military concentration explores strategies for assisting veterans. The ideal specialization, then, depends on a student's career goals.

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

A Ph.D. emphasizes research skills, while a Psy.D. prepares students for practice. For this reason, candidates who want to teach or create new field research should consider a Ph.D., and students who want to provide psychological treatment should aim for a Psy.D. However, either degree can lead to licensure.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

Psychologists are not permitted to practice with expired licenses. However, candidates can reinstate their licenses within 60 days of expiration with no financial penalty. The state charges $100 for each month of practice after this time frame. Psychologists are subject to more advanced discipline from the board after six months of license expiration.

Psychology Resources for Tennessee

  • Tennessee Psychological Association TPA offers a yearly convention with workshops that may count for continuing education credits. The group also maintains a career center with information on current positions and informs visitors of opportunities to engage in field research.
  • Tennessee Association of School Psychologists TASP participates in events like the MidSouth School Psychology Conference and Southeast Region PREPaRE. Candidates can browse career and internship opportunities through the site and listen to podcasts on topics like advocacy.
  • Mental Health Association of East Tennessee This association provides resources on mental health, including information on disorders, intervention, bullying, and addiction. Candidates can attend the group's Fall Psychiatric Symposium with educational sessions, exhibits, and networking opportunities.
  • PSYCHē This organization provides resources for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The website also delivers articles on topics like enabling and validation.
  • The Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations Members can attend TAMHO's annual conference, an advocacy day, and an addictions committee meeting. The website also connects viewers to resources like Alliance Healthcare Services and the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.