LICENSURE AS A PSYCHOLOGIST - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
PSYCHOLOGY LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS
1. What are the requirements for initial licensure as a psychologist?
Answer: The following are the necessary requirements for licensure as a psychologist:
- Possess a qualifying doctoral degree [Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 2914(b)]
- Complete a total of 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, 1,500 of which must be accrued post-doctorally [Title 16, California Code of Regulations (CCR) § 1387]
- Complete six specific types of pre-licensure coursework [CCR §§ 1382, 1382.3, 1382.4, & 1382.5; BPC §§ 2915.5 & 2915.4]
- Pass both the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE) [CCR § 1388]
- Submit fingerprints to Department of Justice (DOJ) and United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a criminal history background check [BPC § 144]
2. What are the steps in the psychology licensure process?
Answer: If you have never been licensed at the doctoral level in California, a U.S. territory or Canadian province, there are 3 steps in the licensure process that you will need to follow:
Step 1: Take and pass the EPPP. To obtain eligibility, submit an Application for Licensure as a Psychologist with the fee and verification of 1) a minimum of 1,500 hours of qualifying pre- or post-doctoral supervised professional experience and 2) an earned qualifying doctoral degree.
Step 2: Take and pass the CPLEE. After passing the EPPP, submit the CPLEE request form with verification of a total of 3,000 hours of qualifying supervised professional experience (If you have already been approved with 1,500 hours of supervised professional experience in Step 1, submit 1,500 hours of qualifying post-doctoral supervised professional experience.).
Step 3: Request Initial Licensure. After passing the CPLEE, submit your request for initial licensure with the fee and any outstanding items for your application The Request for Initial Licensure form will be provided to you at the examination site after passing the CPLEE.
Note: Prelicensure coursework and fingerprint requirements must be completed prior to licensure. The Board recommends submitting verification for all prelicensure coursework in Step 1 and submitting your fingerprints after you have passed the CPLEE, before Step 3.
See the step-by-step guide for In-State Applicants on the Board’s website for the application form and the specific submission instructions for each of the necessary documents.
Alternatively, if you 1) have obtained EPPP eligibility from another jurisdiction outside of California, or 2) have passed the EPPP (whether or not you are currently licensed at the doctoral level in another state, Canadian province, or U.S. territory), see the step-by-step guide for Out-of-State Applicants and specific submission instructions for the necessary documents to support your application.
1. Can I submit my application through the DCA BreEZe Online Services?
Answer: Yes. You can apply and pay the fee online through DCA BreEZe Online Services if this is your first application for licensure. See Online Application Instructions for more information. If you have applied previously and your application expired, submit a reapplication with fee by mail.
2. How do I apply to take the EPPP?
Answer: Submit an Application for Licensure as a Psychologist with fee or apply and pay the fee on DCA BreEZe Online Services if this is your first application for licensure. In-State Applicants and Out-of-State Applicants may find specific submission instructions and a list of the documents necessary for applying to take the EPPP on the Board’s website.
1. What are the degree requirements for licensure?
Answer: Possess an earned doctoral degree from a college or institution of higher education that is accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. The doctoral degree can be in any of the following:
- Psychology with the field of specialization in clinical, counseling, school, consulting, forensic, industrial, or organizational psychology.
- Education with the field of specialization in counseling psychology, educational psychology, or school psychology.
- A field of specialization designed to prepare graduates for the professional practice of psychology. [Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 2914(b)]
2. How do I find out if an educational institution is accredited by a regionally accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education?
Answer: You can find out by searching the accreditation database provided by the by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE).
3. Which are the regional accrediting agencies?
Answer: The regional accrediting agencies are as follows:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
4. I have a doctoral degree from outside the United States or Canada. Will my doctoral degree qualify for licensure?
Answer: It may. The doctoral degree must be evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), or by the National Register of Health Services Psychologists (NRHSPF). The member of the NACES or the NRHSP is required to submit the evaluation to the board directly and include in the evaluation all of the following:
- A transcript in English, or translated into English by the credential evaluation service, of the degree used to qualify for licensure.
- An indication that the degree used to qualify for licensure is verified using primary sources.
- A determination that the degree is equivalent to a degree that qualifies for licensure pursuant to BPC §2914(b)(5).
SUPERVISED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
1. What are the requirements for supervised professional experience?
Answer: A total of 3,000 hours of qualifying supervised professional experience (SPE), 1,500 of which must be accrued post-doctorally. [CCR § 1387]
2. When can I begin to accrue supervised professional experience?
Answer: For pre-doctoral supervised professional experience (SPE), you may begin to accrue the hours after completion of 48 semester/trimester or 72 quarter units of graduate coursework in psychology not including thesis, internship, or dissertation.
For post-doctoral SPE, you may begin to accrue the hours as early as on the date you have met all the requirements for the doctoral degree. This date will need to be certified by the Registrar or Dean of the educational institution, or by the Director of Training of the doctoral program. [CCR § 1387]
3. Are there time limitations in the accrual of supervised professional experience?
Answer: Yes. You must complete all pre-doctoral supervised professional experience (SPE) within a 30-consecutive month period prior to the date the qualifying doctoral degree is awarded and all post-doctoral SPE within a 30-consecutive month period after you have obtained a qualifying doctoral degree or have met all requirements for the doctoral degree.
If you are only applying post-doctoral SPE towards licensure, then you must complete all post-doctoral SPE in a 60-consecutive month period any time after you have obtained a qualifying doctoral degree or have met all requirements for the doctoral degree.
The 30- or 60-consecutive month time limitation begins on the first day you begin to accrue SPE.
4. Where can I obtain supervised professional experience?
Answer: You may obtain supervised professional experience in any of the following pathways:
- As a graduate student or psychology intern enrolled in a doctoral program leading to one of the degrees listed in BPC § 2914(b) [BPC § 2911]
- In a formal internship placement overseen by, or formal post-doctoral placement approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), or the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) [BPC § 2911]
- In any exempt settings [BPC § 2910]
- By obtaining a waiver issued by the Department of Health Care Services [Welfare and Institutions Code § 5751.2]
- With a Registered Psychological Associate Registration [BPC § 2913 & Title 16, Article 5.1 of the CCR]
See the chart in the addendum of the Board’s Legislative Advisory: SB 801 (Archuleta) – Healing Arts about the exemption status for registration requirements and submission of proof of registration for each pathway.
5. I have accrued some experience under supervision outside the U.S. or Canada, would the Board accept this as supervised professional experience towards licensure?
Answer: No. It would be accepted only if the country in which you accrued the experience outside the U.S. or Canada also regulates the profession of psychology pursuant to the same requirements as set forth in section 2914 of the BPC, that is, the other country also requires a psychology license applicant to possess the same qualifying doctoral degree, take and pass the EPPP and CPLEE, complete 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, complete 6 prelicensure coursework, and submit fingerprints. All supervised professional experience must also comply with the supervision requirements pursuant to CCR § 1387.
1. What are the exams that I must take?
Answer: Take and pass both the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE).
For more information about examinations, review the Examinations section of the Board's website.
2. If I have taken the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in the past in another state, U.S. territory, or Canadian province, how do I have my scores reported to California?
Answer: Request an EPPP Score Transfer from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) to be sent directly to the Board.
3. What is the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE)?
Answer: Each CPLEE will consist of 75 scored and 25 non-scored questions for a total of 100 questions, all multiple-choice, in laws and ethics.
Candidates have 2.5 hours to complete the examination. Exam questions are developed using the current versions of the California Board of Psychology’s Laws and Regulations and the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.
For more information, review the CPLEE Candidate Information Bulletin and the CPLEE – California Psychology Law and Ethics Exam section on the Board's website.
Which coursework must be completed prior to licensure?
Answer: Coursework in:
- Human Sexuality A minimum of ten (10) contact hours [BPC § 25 & CCR § 1382],
- Alcohol/Chemical Dependency Detection and Treatment A minimum of fifteen (15) contact hours from a degree-granting educational institution or in an extension course offered by an approved/accredited institution [BPC § 2914(e) & CCR § 1382.3],
- Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting A minimum of seven (7) contact hours [BPC § 28 & CCR § 1382.4],
- Spousal or Partner Abuse Assessment, Detection, and Intervention Strategies If you began graduate training before December 31, 2003, a minimum of two (2) contact hours. If you began graduate training on or after January 1, 2004, a minimum of fifteen (15) contact hours [BPC § 2914(f) & CCR § 1382.5],
- Aging and Long-Term Care [BPC § 2915.5], and
- Suicide Risk Assessment and Intervention [BPC § 2915.4].
1. What is the Board’s fingerprint process?
Answer: Applicants must bring a completed a "Request for Live Scan Service" form with them to a Live Scan site. A complete list of the Live Scan sites can be found on the DOJ Applicant Live Scan website.
Review the Fingerprint Procedures on the Board's website for more information.
Applicants must submit a new set of fingerprints for any application.
Fingerprints previously submitted for a Psychological Associate Registration application cannot be used again for a Psychologist License application.
2. What if I live outside of California?
Answer: Submit a request for "hard cards" at email@example.com. The Board will mail the hard cards to you along with instructions.
Applicants can only use Live Scan at sites within California.
1. How do I apply for a California license as a psychologist if any of the following apply:
- I have been licensed in another state or Canadian province or U.S. territory for more than two years, or
- I have a Certificate of Professional Qualification (CPQ) issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), or
- I hold a credential as a Health Service Provider from the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology, or
- I am certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
Answer: Submit an Application for Licensure as a Psychologist (by mail or online), a CPLEE Request form (by mail), and the necessary fees and documents to the Board.
Refer to the step-by-step guide for Out-of-State Applicants Category C for application forms and specific submission instructions for the necessary documents to support your application.
2. If I am a psychologist licensed in another state or province, can I practice in California prior to obtaining a CA license?
Answer: Yes, on a limited basis, if you have submitted your application.
BPC § 2946(b) allows a psychologist licensed in another state, territory, or province who has applied to the Board for a license in this state to perform activities and services of a psychological nature without a valid California license for a period not to exceed 180 calendar days from the time of submitting their application or from the commencement of residency in this state, whichever occurs first.
1. How many hours of continuing education do I need to accrue in order to renew my license?
Answer: For every 2-year renewal period a total of 36 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is required. CPD means certain learning activities approved in four different categories:
- Professional activities
- Academic activities
- Sponsored continuing education coursework
- Board certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology
With the exception of 100% ABPP Board Certification, a licensee shall accrue hours during each renewal period from at least two (2) of the four (4) CPD activity categories.
Please refer to the Continuing Education Requirements on the Board’s website for more information. [BPC § 2915]
2. Do I have to take any specific courses to meet the board's continuing education requirements?
Answer: Psychologists renewing their license must take a minimum of four (4) hours of training in the subject of laws and ethics as they apply to the practice of Psychology. This requirement can be met using any combination of CPD categories. The 4 hours are considered part of the 36-hour CPD requirement. [CCR § 1397.61.1.(b)]
Licensees must complete a minimum of 4 hours in the subject of laws and ethics as they apply to the practice of Psychology. Cultural Diversity pertains to differences in age, race, culture, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion/spirituality, and physical ability. Social Justice pertains to the historical, social, and political inequities in the treatment of people from non-dominant groups, while addressing the various injustices and different types of oppression that contribute to individual, family and community psychological concerns. The 4 hours are considered part of the 36-hour CPD requirement. [CCR § 1397.61.1.(c)]
1. Does the public have access to a licensed psychologist's home address?
Answer: Only if you designate it as your address of record.
The Board of Psychology is required to provide an address of record (AOR) for all licensed psychologists. If the psychologist has chosen to use his or her home address as their address of record, this is the address that will be given to anyone who calls to verify their license. Therefore, if you do not want your home address disclosed, you may obtain and use an alternate address such as a business address or a post office box as your address of record. If your AOR is a P.O. Box or mail drop location, you must provide a physical address (business or residential) as the confidential address. [BPC § 27 and CCR § 1380.5]
2. Are psychologists required by law to post in their offices some sort of sign or notice about consumer complaints.
Answer: Yes. BPC § 2936 requires such a notice. The law states, "To facilitate consumers in receiving appropriate psychological services, all licensees and registrants shall be required to post, in a conspicuous location in their principal psychological business office, a notice which reads as follows:
NOTICE TO CONSUMERS: The Department of Consumer Affairs receives questions and complaints regarding the practice of psychology. If you have questions or complaints, you may contact this you may contact the board by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the Internet at www.psychology.ca.gov, by calling 1-866-503-3221, or by writing to the following address:
Board of Psychology
1625 North Market Boulevard, Suite N-215
Sacramento, California 95834
Last Updated: September 22, 2022