Best West Virginia Psychology Colleges and Programs
West Virginia needs mental health providers and psychologists. Adults in the state suffer from serious mental illness at a higher rate than the national percentage. However, less than half of these adults receive mental health treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The administration also finds that 5.5% of adults in West Virginia report serious mental illness, compared to 4.2% nationally.
This guide outlines why individuals should pursue a psychology degree and start a career in West Virginia. Prospective students can explore the best colleges in West Virginia for psychology, including education requirements and licensing criteria. This page also highlights employment and salary data along with helpful resources for students and psychologists.
Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in West Virginia?
By LearnPsychology.org Staff
West Virginia colleges for psychology attract students for many reasons. Some learners grew up in the Mountain State and want to contribute to their community. Others may desire to provide mental health services in a state with a large population struggling with mental health. About 19% of West Virginia residents reported frequent mental distress in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, about 12.4% of people reported frequent mental distress. This makes West Virginia the state with the most frequent mental distress nationwide.
In addition to the desire to help others, many students attend colleges for psychology in West Virginia for more practical reasons. The state offers some of the nation's most affordable college tuition and fees, according to the College Board. On average, in-state tuition at public institutions stayed below $10,000 per year in 2019. Out-of-state students paid an average of just over $20,000 annually.
What to Expect in a West Virginia Psychology College Program
When it comes to a psychology education, the main difference between West Virginia and other states involves the required degrees. Students in West Virginia do not need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology if they would rather follow the master's track to licensure. Learners who choose this option can finish their education faster.
Otherwise, aspiring psychologists can expect many of the same requirements in West Virginia as any other state. A bachelor's degree, which includes foundational and elective courses, typically takes four years. Students often choose a concentration and usually complete a research project during their last year.
Learners pursuing a master's degree often take 1-3 years. During this time, students hone in on a specialization. Doctoral candidates often spend 4-7 years completing their degree, which largely focuses on practice or research.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in West Virginia?
Colleges for psychology in West Virginia offer a variety of different courses. Although the state requires graduate programs to cover specific topics, each school offers a unique curriculum with different electives and focus areas. The list below highlights common courses at West Virginia colleges for psychology.
As people age, they change and evolve psychologically. This course exams those changes across the lifespan, starting with infancy and progressing through adulthood. Students explore perceptual and social development in the early stages of life in addition to environmental and biological factors that influence those developments.
A major school within the psychology field, cognitive psychology focuses on the mental processes that help us make sense of the world. These processes include memory, perception, learning, decision-making, and problem-solving. This course examines how these processes work and which challenges may interrupt or affect these processes.
This course covers mental, social, and behavioral disorders. Students learn about depressive, schizophrenic, anxiety, personality, and addictive disorders. They study theories about how these disorders develop in addition to diagnosis and treatment methods for psychologists. Some versions of these courses may also explore how different cultures understand abnormalities.
Learners study how biological processes affect neuroanatomy and neurotransmitters. Students review concepts in functional neural circuits, neurodevelopment, and neuroplasticity. They also explore the latest field research.
Students at every level conduct research. As a part of this process, learners need proficiency in research methods and statistics. Psychology programs usually require learners to take research methods courses before any major projects. These courses review both quantitative and qualitative research methods and statistical analysis.
Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in West Virginia
Although most states require psychologists to hold a doctorate, West Virginia gives candidates the option to earn licensure with either a doctorate or a master's degree.
Either way, aspiring psychologists must start with a bachelor's degree. The state does not require students to major in psychology, although earning an undergraduate degree in the field can provide a considerable advantage to graduate school applicants. Undergraduates who major in a field unrelated to psychology should take at least a few psychology courses to improve their chances of getting into a master's program.
Individuals who choose to earn a master's degree without a doctoral degree must attend a regionally accredited program with at least 80% on-campus classes. Alternatively, candidates can decide to obtain a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution. The state requires graduate students at either level to take courses covering specific subjects, such as clinical interviewing, diagnosis and treatment planning, and psychopathology.
School psychologists with level-one categorization -- or those who work for more than one county school board -- can earn licensure with either a master's degree, educational specialist degree (Ed.S.), or a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS). Level-two school psychologists can work as independent practitioners. They need either a level-one license or a doctoral degree in school psychology.
West Virginia Licensing for Psychologists
West Virginia offers many different pathways to licensure. The board requires different educational and supervised experience qualifications for each pathway. The state maintains a separate set of requirements for school psychologists.
Why Get Licensed in West Virginia?
Like in any other state, psychologists in West Virginia need professional licensure to legally practice. The licensure process ensures that mental health professionals possess the proper educational background and qualifications to diagnose and treat mental health problems.
Psychologists who practice without a license risk serious legal trouble. Other mental health professionals, such as counselors, need a different form of licensure. Keep in mind that West Virginia's psychology licensing board requires different qualifications for psychologists working in schools.
Licensing Criteria for West Virginia
When it comes to supervised experience and internships, requirements depend on a candidate's education level.
Individuals who earned a master's degree without a doctoral degree must complete five years of supervised experience. During this time, candidates must complete 10 hours of continuing education (CE) every year. Of these hours, 1.5 should cover ethics. Candidates submit four quarterly reports to the board each year and pass a mid-term review.
Aspiring psychologists who earn their doctoral degrees should complete an 1,800-hour pre-doctoral internship. This generally lasts one year. Candidates who complete an internship approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) do not need to participate in any additional supervised experience. Candidates who skip this internship or complete a non-APA approved internship must participate in an additional two years of supervised practice after earning their bachelor's. Like master's candidates, they should earn 10 CE hours each year and send the board quarterly reports.
Level-one school psychologist candidates need three years of supervised experience, or one internship and two years of supervised experience. Level-two psychologist candidates with a master's degree need two years of supervised experience. Those with a doctoral degree should complete two years of supervised experience, or one internship and one year of supervised experience.
How to Get Licensed in West Virginia
The final step to earning psychology licensure involves examinations. Candidates who earned both master's and doctoral degrees should pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Individuals participating in supervised experience hours must take the exam within the first year of their supervision. Candidates who do not need supervision experience should take the exam within two years after graduating with their doctorate. Test-takers need a score of 500 to pass the exam.
School psychologists should pass the school psychology Praxis exam. Some applicants choose to take the exam before they apply for licensure. However, West Virginia allows candidates two years after their licensure application to pass the exam. Candidates need a score of at least 165 on the Praxis.
All candidates must take a state-run oral exam after they pass the EPPP or Praxis
License Renewal in West Virginia
Psychologists in West Virginia must renew their licenses every two years. The specific date depends on when professionals earned their license. To qualify for renewal, psychologists must participate in 20 CE hours during each two-year renewal period. Three hours should cover ethics, while 10 hours should come from providers approved by the APA or National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
School psychologists should complete 30 CE hours. They also must complete three hours of ethics credits. Fifteen of their CE hours must come from providers approved by the APA or NASP.
West Virginia Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends
In general, West Virginia does not rank highly for psychologist salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in the state make an average salary of $59,200 annually, compared to the $85,340 average salary for these professionals on the national scale. The average annual salaries for neighboring states also surpass West Virginia. Psychologists in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky make about $80,000, $75,700, and $64,000, respectively.
That said, about 800 psychologists in varying specialties worked in West Virginia in 2018. That number may grow by 13% through 2026, according to Projections Central. By this statistic, West Virginia bypasses its neighbors.
The tables below highlight how West Virginia compares to neighboring states and the nation.
Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in West Virginia
Psychologists, All Other in West Virginia
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally
Psychology Programs and Licensing in West Virginia Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?
Students can become licensed psychologists with either a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) in psychology. The choice depends on the learner's academic preferences. BA programs allow degree-seekers to take more general education or elective courses, which means that students can more easily choose a double major or a minor. BS programs require more math, hard science, and psychology courses.
Do I Have to Major in Psychology to Become a Psychologist?
You do not necessarily need to major in psychology for your undergraduate degree to become a psychologist in West Virginia. Some master's programs accept applicants with a degree in another field. However, an undergraduate degree in psychology from one of the best psychology schools in West Virginia comes with huge benefits, and it can help students succeed in graduate school.
What Is a Good Speciality for Psychology?
This depends on a student's career goals. Most psychology programs -- especially at the graduate level -- offer specialties. These concentrations guide a student's career directions. For instance, an individual who pursues educational psychology may go on to work as a school psychologist.
Can I Get Licensed If My Degree Is From an Unaccredited Program?
If you attend an unaccredited program, you cannot earn licensure. West Virginia requires all psychology candidates to hold degrees from schools with regional accreditation. In West Virginia, universities earn regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Are West Virginia Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?
This depends on the state. Often, state boards allow psychologists with previous licenses to practice in the state. However, professionals must prove their licensure by showing their credentials and sometimes presenting an endorsement. If you want to move to another state, check with the professional licensing board to learn about that state's requirements.
Psychology Resources for West Virginia
West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists This state board enforces the law concerning psychology licensure in West Virginia. Board members evaluate candidates and grant licenses. Aspiring psychologists should visit the board's website for information about licensure requirements, renewal, and suspension.
West Virginia Psychological Association As a state chapter of the APA, this group invites psychology professionals to join, including students and early-career psychologists. WVPA runs conferences and other events, and it publishes online resources for its members.
West Virginia School Psychologists' Association WVSPA offers many member resources, including NASP-approved CE opportunities that school psychologists need for license renewal. The group also publishes newsletters and allows members to connect through events.
West Virginia Counseling Association Although not specifically for licensed psychologists, WVCA offers value to anyone involved in the mental health field. The organization participates in advocacy and hosts an annual conference.