Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Texas?

By Maura Deering

Texas boasts some of the best psychology schools in the country, including public universities that charge tuition rates comparable to the national average. These schools include Texas A&M University (ranked 18th for best value) and the University of Texas (ranked eighth for clinical psychology).

In addition to the state's low unemployment rate of 3.4%, Texas' high economic rankings (13th in business environment and growth and ninth for long-term fiscal stability) point to a promising environment for aspiring psychologists.

Like many parts of the U.S., Texas needs licensed school psychologists due to a shortage of qualified practitioners who can conduct special education evaluations. Students pursuing degrees in educational psychology can enter a burgeoning job market in Texas after graduation.

What to Expect in a Texas Psychology College Program

Texas colleges for psychology offer degrees at all levels. A typical undergraduate program takes four years to complete, a master's usually spans two years, and a doctorate can take 6-7 years, including in-person internship requirements. Bachelor's and master's degrees do not require internships but often include on-site fieldwork or research projects.

In 2018, Texas universities awarded more than 3,500 psychology degrees -- primarily at the bachelor's level -- which put Texas at fourth in the country for psychology degrees conferred. A bachelor's degree curriculum includes psychology courses, along with general education classes required for graduation.

Students who want to practice psychology and become licensed earn master's degrees or doctorates and concentrate in school psychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology, or one of many other specialization areas.

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

The best psychology schools in Texas offer a diverse array of courses. Below, we list sample class descriptions from bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees to represent the range of topics covered in psychology programs.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Upper-level undergraduate psychology majors typically take this course, which covers behavioral functions from the perspective of neuroscience. Students learn about brain disorders, the human nervous system, learning and motivation, and perception. Prerequisites include introduction to psychology, statistics, and research design.

Lifespan Development

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology often enroll in this course, which surveys the concepts, theories, and principles of cognitive, motivational, and physiological processes. Learners explore the progression from prenatal development, childhood, and adolescence to adulthood and death.

Mental Health Law

This graduate-level class (often part of a Ph.D. in psychology program) covers state and federal constitutions, statutes, and case law governing the practice of psychology and other mental health disciplines. Topics may include civil commitment, inmate psychiatric hospitalization, licensing requirements, privilege and confidentiality, and reporting laws concerning child abuse and neglect.

Multicultural Counseling in Schools

As part of a master's in school psychology, students examine how cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation affect children's development and education. Topics include appreciation and understanding of individual and family differences to make school counseling more effective.

Psychological Assessment

This graduate-level course introduces doctoral students to assessment approaches and principles. Students learn to administer, interpret, and score measures of cognition, intellect, and neuropsychology, along with integrated report writing. Additional topics may include disorder assessment, gerontology, and objective and projective personality measures. Psy.D. students often take this course in a series.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Texas

Students should start by obtaining a bachelor's degree as the first step to becoming a psychologist in Texas. Most master's and doctoral degree programs require a bachelor's degree for admittance.

The next step consists of earning a master's or doctoral degree, depending on your career goals. Master's programs lead to either an MA or an MS in psychology. An MA tends to cover theory and application, while an MS focuses on analysis and data. A doctoral student can choose to pursue a Psy.D. or Ph.D. Some schools allow enrollees to complete a master's and doctoral degree in the same program, which can shorten the time needed for completion.

While not mandatory to major in psychology, learners with a bachelor's degree in fields other than psychology may need to take additional prerequisites for admission to a graduate program. Graduate students typically choose a concentration area within psychology.

Texas requires aspiring school psychologists to complete a school psychology program approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) or the American Psychological Association (APA). The state board requires each doctoral student to log 1,750 hours as a supervised intern during their degree program.

Texas Licensing for Psychologists

Practicing psychologists in Texas must be licensed, but applicants can pursue different categories of licenses depending on when (i.e., which stage of the process) they apply, along with their career and specialization goals. The section below outlines the processes for obtaining a license and renewal.

Why Get Licensed in Texas?

Regardless of specialization area, each Texas psychologist needs a full license to use the title of "psychologist" and provide or supervise psychological services, including counseling, psychoanalysis, hypnosis, and biofeedback; neuropsychology; and psychoeducational evaluation, therapy, and remediation.

A provisionally licensed psychologist or licensed psychological associate can practice under the supervision of a fully licensed psychologist. Both licenses constitute interim steps to full licensing while gaining the requisite postgraduate work experience. The next section contains information about the different types of licensing.

Licensing Criteria for Texas

The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists grants psychology licenses. The most common path to becoming fully licensed consists of earning a doctorate and then applying for a provisional license while completing the requisite supervised professional experience. In addition to the 1,750 hours logged during a doctoral program, aspiring professionals must also obtain an additional 1,750 postdoctoral hours. Once licensure candidates complete those hours, they can apply for a full license. School psychologists must log 1,200 internship hours, with 600 of them occurring at a public school.

Aspiring psychologists may also pursue becoming licensed psychology associates by earning a master's degree that includes six hours of supervised internship or practicum hours. Once completed, candidates can apply to become licensed psychological associates, and after completion of 3,000 post-graduate hours of supervised experience, they can apply for full licensing.

How to Get Licensed in Texas

Provisionally licensed psychologists and licensed psychological associates must take and pass two examinations: the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP) and the jurisprudence examination. School psychologists take the national school psychology examination instead of the EPPP, along with the jurisprudence exam.

The EPPP tests students' broad knowledge of psychology in many areas. Examinees pass with a score of 500 or 70%. Test-takers can register when the board approves their licensing applications. The jurisprudence exam may be taken online and covers applicable laws, licensing board rules, and the state licensing act. Students must score a 90% to pass.

School psychologists take the Praxis school psychologist exam at testing centers during several testing windows available each year. Examinees must earn a score of 147. Most psychologists practice in a particular specialty area, but the board does not require doing so for licensing.

License Renewal in Texas

Psychologists must renew their licenses biennially. The board requires them to review and update their public profiles unless they hold provisional, psychological associate, or school psychologist licenses. Psychologists also cannot be in default on court-ordered child support. Licensees must renew within 60 days of the expiration date.

Psychologists must complete at least 40 hours of professional development during each renewal period. Six hours must cover ethics, professional responsibility, or rules of conduct. Another six must address cultural diversity. Professionals must log at least half of the 40 hours through a board-approved continuing education provider. Psychologists renew their licenses and report their professional development hours online.

Texas Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

As shown in the tables below, annual mean wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists continue to rise. However, all other psychologists have consistently earned higher wages. Compared to salaries in neighboring states, Texas surpasses all but Louisiana and Colorado for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. The state ranks second for mean wages of all other psychologists, topped only by Kansas.

The Houston metropolitan area leads the way in Texas with its top-ten ranking among U.S. states for all other psychologist salaries. The annual mean wage totals $98,160, exceeding the statewide and national mean wages.

Texas tops the list of job growth projections for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, beating its neighbors and the national rate. Texas ranks third in employment levels of postsecondary psychology teachers, and the Houston and Dallas metro areas rank among the top ten nationally. The correlation between psychology wage increases and projected job growth in Texas should strengthen if the economy remains stable and efforts to attract practitioners succeed.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Texas $65,310 $70,060
Psychologists, All Other in Texas $90,570 $91,350
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 Texas and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • Texas

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,650

    Psychologists, All Other: $90,780

  • Louisiana

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $86,630

    Psychologists, All Other: $76,510

  • Arkansas

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

    Psychologists, All Other: $83,030

  • Oklahoma

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $60,760

    Psychologists, All Other: $89,300

  • Colorado

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,470

    Psychologists, All Other: $83,630

  • Kansas

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $65,320

    Psychologists, All Other: $102,910

  • New Mexico

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,600

    Psychologists, All Other: $84,080

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
Texas 20.0% 9.2%
Louisiana 11.4% 9.1%
Arkansas 17.7% 9.1%
Oklahoma 15.9% N/A
Colorado 33.5% 16.7%
Kansas 9.3% N/A
New Mexico 8.2% 11.1%

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in Texas Frequently Asked Questions

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

While most schools do not require a bachelor's degree in psychology, they do prefer to see psychology coursework, with some colleges listing specific undergraduate classes for applicants to take. Many programs specify that computer science, math, hard sciences, and statistics courses enhance an applicant's chances for admission.

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

A Ph.D. prepares graduates for applied or academic positions in public or private settings, with tracks that include social psychology and experimental psychology. A Psy.D. focuses more on clinical psychology with graduates ready for advanced positions in administration or applied services delivery.

Are Texas Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?

Many states approve licenses for psychologists from other states so long as the licensing requirements (educational, internships, etc.) bear a substantial similarity to those of Texas. Texas, for example, grants licenses by endorsement to applicants in good standing from other states, with no past or pending disciplinary actions, and have completed 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

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

Texas licensing board rules specify that provisional licensure applicants complete their doctoral programs at regionally accredited institutions. School psychology programs must hold APA or NASP accreditation.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

The Texas licensing board may assess late renewal fees to license-holders who fail to renew their credentials by the expiration date. If the license-holder does not renew within a year of the expiration date, the license expires. You cannot practice psychology with an expired license.

Psychology Resources for Texas

  • Elite Learning This website offers online continuing education resources for Texas psychologists and boasts APA approval as a continuing education provider. Topics include ethics, addiction, and issues faced by returning veterans.
  • Texas Association of Addiction Professionals This state affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals offers its members 145 hours of free continuing education resources, reduced rates for conferences and public policy events, a career center, and discounted liability insurance.
  • Texas Association of School Psychologists TASP offers several membership levels, including student, early career, and retiree. Members join a community of school psychologists and receive updates on relevant issues, networking opportunities, and discounted professional development.
  • Texas Psychological Association This group advocates for its 1,500 student and practicing professional members. Benefits include discounted liability insurance, free ethics and legal consultations, three hours of complementary online professional development, and publications.
  • Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists This agency grants psychology licenses and lists all the information and requirements for aspiring practitioners. The website features updates on new developments in licensing, exam details, and the laws governing psychology licensing.