Psychology is a broad scientific discipline that draws on both the social sciences and the exact sciences. The practice of psychology is concerned with many aspects of life such as education, human development, health, resilience, family, community relations, work relations, etc. The job of a psychologist is to study human mental processes and behaviors by observing and interpreting how people react to an environment.
- Clinical Psychologist: Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They help people deal with their problems: from short-term personal troubles to severe chronic ones. Some Clinical Psychologists only deal with a specific type of population: children, adolescents, the elderly ... In some states (Louisiana and New Mexico) Clinical Psychologists are authorized to prescribe treatments. In other states, only Psychiatrists and doctors can deliver such a service.
- Health Psychologists: they study how psychological factors affect our health. they promote healthy lifestyles and investigate recurring health problems: illicit substance use, teenage pregnancies, etc., in order to subsequently develop programs to help them.
- Neuropsychologists: they study the relationship between the brain and human behavior. They often work with patients who have suffered neurological damage.
- Counseling Psychologists: they advise individuals on the management of their problems. They help their patients understand where their disorders come from, whether they are family, work-related or their environment, so that they can subsequently be treated.
- Developmental Psychologists: they study the evolution of the psychological development of the human being throughout his life. This branch of psychology focuses on the populations most susceptible to change: children, adolescents and the elderly.
- Forensic Psychologists: they work with lawyers and judges to bring their knowledge of psychology to court cases. They are often called to appear in court as an expert.
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: they study and develop methods to improve working conditions. They focus on improving productivity, personnel management and even employee working methods.
- School Psychologists: they apply psychological principles to the school environment. They study and evaluate students' learning methods, analyze their difficulties and their performance. They advise students and their families and brainstorm strategies to improve teaching and pedagogy.
- Social Psychologists: they mainly study social interactions and focus on understanding how behaviors and mentalities are influenced by social interactions.
- Research Psychologists: This specialization allows the teaching of psychology at the university level and the performance of research.
To be able to practice psychology in the United States it is necessary to obtain at least a Master's Degree in Psychology, however it is often necessary to obtain a PhD or "PsyD" (Doctor of Psychology) supplemented by an internship of a particular year. for certain specialties such as Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology or even Research Psychology.
Before being able to enter a Master or PhD program, students must first complete a Bachelor’s Degree (4 years diploma) with a "major" in Psychology. To find universities or colleges that offer "major" in psychology at the bachelor's level, you can consult the following sites:
(“majors” : “PSYCHOLOGY”)
In addition to compulsory general culture courses for the validation of a bachelor's degree, students who have chosen psychology as a specialty will likely take courses in the following fields:
- Developmental psychology.
- Abnormal psychology.
- Psychology of learning.
- Cognitive psychology.
- Social psychology.
- Ethical issues in psychology.
- History of psychology.
They will also be introduced to statistical studies and scientific research. Graduate level:
At Master’s level, the programs are much more specialized and candidates should generally have a fairly precise idea of the area that interests them the most, for example "Addiction & Recovery"; “Behavioral Psychology”; “Child and Adolescent Psychology”; “Educational Psychology”; “Family Counseling”;
“Organizational Psychology” (occupational psychologist), etc. To find Masters programs in any of these psychology specialties, visit the following sites:
There are many doctoral programs in psychology. The role of the American Psychological Association (APA) is to accredit these programs to prove their value and compliance. By visiting this site: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/programs/index.aspx you will access the list of programs accredited by this organization.
To be able to practice as a psychologist, all states require a license to practice: the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology) which is a multiple-choice questionnaire of 255 questions on various aspects of practice of psychology: diagnostics, behavioral sciences, biology, etc.
In order to learn about the steps necessary to obtain this license, you must contact the State Board of Psychology of the state where you wish to practice. The list of States Boards is available on the ASPPB (Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board) website: http://www.asppb.net/?page=BdContactNewPG
PLEASE NOTE: School Psychologists must receive specific certification to practice in schools. The requirements for this accreditation vary by state, but it is usually issued by the State's Department of Education. The conditions for obtaining this accreditation for each state are available on the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) website: www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification
They vary from institution to institution, but there are a few constants. The request will be evaluated according to academic criteria. It will also be necessary to pass admission tests such as the SAT or ACT and the TOEFL or the IELTS (For foreign applicants.) The offices Admissions are mainly based on grades from the third year as well as on letters of recommendation from professors. Traditionally, each institution has its own admission record, but some universities share a record called the Common Application (www.commonapp.org). More information on admission procedures to the undergraduate level can be found on the website.
As with the undergraduate level, they vary from one institution to another. The evaluation is based on your academic results during all your graduate studies, on letters of recommendation from professors or professionals with whom you have worked, on the presentation of your professional project. Some admissions offices will ask you for the results of the GRE test, and if you are not an English speaker you will also have to take the TOEFL or the IELTS
1) Determine the state where you wish to practice and contact the state board of psychology to find out the eligibility requirements. State Boards contacts are available here:
2) Send your diplomas to the assessment service of the ASPPB of the chosen state to verify that you have training that corresponds to those offered in the United States. If, following this assessment, the state considers that your training is deficient, then you will have to take courses (one semester, one year) or even complete a diploma in the United States.
3) If your training is recognized as sufficient, you can then submit your application to take the EPPP.
N.B.: attention! Passing the EPPP exam does not guarantee obtaining a work visa.
Sources of useful information
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board: