The Prairie State is home to the largest city in the Midwest, some of the bigger cornfields in farm belt, and also a several of the top psychology schools in the country. Chicago is actually the third most populous city in the U.S., and according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 2,470 psychologists employed in the greater Chicago metropolitan area — which also puts it third in the nation.
- Overall, the state employs over four thousand psychologists, with an average annual salary of $68,010. Depending on where you are in the state, that average does vary, from $76,810 in Champaign-Urbana and $73,590 in Peoria, to $68,520 in the Chicago area and $51,360 in Springfield, the state capital and the "Home of Abraham Lincoln."
- The National Center for Education Statistics' data for 2011-2012 ranked Illinois sixth in the nation for bachelor's degrees in psychology conferred, with 4,103, and fourth in master's degrees, with 1,793.
- To feed this demand, there are over 60 psychology schools and colleges in Illinois offering degree programs: eight schools have programs approved by the National Association of School Psychologists; 15 have programs approved by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists; and there are a total of 23 doctoral programs in psychology in the state that are currently accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Illinois psychology licensing requirements
As in all parts of the country, licensure of psychologists in Illinois is managed at the state level. However, instead of a state board of psychology, Illinois has a Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Among its responsibilities is the licensing and relicensing of professional psychologists, or clinical psychologists, as IDFPR refers to them.
Those aiming to be licensed to practice psychology in Illinois must have completed a doctoral degree program in psychology, or something equivalent. Here are the specific steps for licensure in the state:
- Provide a transcript of other evidence demonstrating completion of a doctoral program in clinical, school, or counseling psychology from a school accredited by the American Psychological Association and/or the Council for the National Register of Health Services Providers
- Complete two years of supervised experience in clinical, school, or counseling psychology, one of which can be in the form of an internship that runs concurrent with a doctoral degree program, and one of which must be postdoctoral
- Take and receive a passing score the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology.
- Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check
In Illinois, practicing psychologists who have a license must go through a renewal process every two years, on or before September 30 of every even numbered year. The primary requirement for relicensing is 24 hours of continuing education training/research. Three of those hours must include content related to the ethical practice of clinical psychology.
Featured psychology schools in Illinois
Based on the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings for psychology programs in the country, here are the top five psychology schools in Illinois:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the U of I, is the flagship school in the Illinois state university system, and it has a substantial psychology department. Along with its undergraduate program for psychology majors, U of I psychology has nine full divisions devoted to discrete areas of psychology: behavioral neuroscience; clinical/community psychology; cognitive psychology; cognitive neuroscience; developmental psychology; general psychology; quantitative psychology; social-personality psychology; industrial-organizational psychology; and visual cognition and human performance. In addition, the U of I's College of Education has graduate programs in educational psychology, with concentrations in African-American studies, child development, cognitive science of teaching and learning, counseling psychology, second language acquisition and teacher education, and quantitative methodology, measurement, and evaluation.
- Department: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Psychology and College of Education
- Location: Champaign, Illinois
- Online options: The U of I does offer a range of online courses and MOOCs through its Illinois Online program. However, it does not currently offer online psychology degrees.
Along with having a top-notch psychology program for undergrads and graduate students, Northwestern University may have been the first institution of higher education in the country to offer a psychology class, which was way back in 1857. These days, the university's Department of Psychology is housed within its Weinburg College of Arts & Sciences, and it has five areas of specialization within the field: brain, behavior, and cognition; clinical psychology; cognitive psychology; personality; and social psychology. In addition, Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine offers a PhD program in clinical psychology.
- Department: Northwestern University Department of Psychology and Feinberg School of Medicine
- Location: Evanston, Illinois
- Online options: Northwestern's School of Professional Studies offers several online degree programs, but the school does not currently have online programs in psychology.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university that's home to some of the best professional schools in the country, including the Booth School of Business, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies. UC's Department of Psychology is also well regarded. It offers undergraduate degrees and a if graduate studies in cognition, developmental psychology, integrative neuroscience, and social psychology. Psychology graduate student also have an array interdisciplinary research options through the school's centers for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and Early Childhood Research, its Institute for Mind and Biology, its Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, its Language Development Project, and its Arete Initiative research project.
- Department: University of Chicago Department of Psychology
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Online options: Although the University of Chicago does offer online courses and MOOCs, it does not offer online degree programs in psychology.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Undergraduate psych major has two tracks: applied psychology, which focuses on counseling, assessment, and interventions; and general psychology with advanced laboratory work in behavioral, clinical, cognitive, community, developmental, and social psychology, as well as learning conditioning, cognitive neuroscience, and mammalian neuranatomy. At the graduate level UIC's Department of Psychology has five distinct areas of focus: behavioral neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, community and prevention research, and social and personality psychology. In addition, UIC's College of Education offers a PhD in Educational Psychology.
- Department: University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychology and College of Education
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Online options: UIC's Extended Campus program has a range of courses and degree programs available online. However, the school does not offer psychology degrees online.
Loyola University Chicago
As a Jesuit school, and one of the largest Catholic universities in the country, Loyola University Chicago puts an emphasis on social development and social justice. The university's Department of Psychology offers doctoral degrees in with two primary foci: healthy Development in children, youth, and families; and psychological foundations of social justice. The undergraduate program has a BS in psychology, and Loyola has a unique five-year combined bachelor/master's degree program in applied social psychology.
- Department: Loyola University Chicago Department of Psychology
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Online options: In addition to its campus-based psychology degree programs, Loyola University Chicago has two online degree in psychology, a BA in applied psychology and an EdD in school psychology.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2015 edition, 'Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists," visited March 25, 2016; http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm
2. National Register of Health Service Psychologists, All Approved Doctoral Programs Listed by Jurisdiction, visited March 26, 2016; http://www.nationalregister.org/resources-links/doctoral-programs/approved-doctoral-programs-by-jurisdiction/
3. National Association of School Psychologists, NASP-Approved Programs, visited March 26, 2016; http://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/graduate-program-approval/nasp-approved-programs
4. American Psychological Association, Search for Accredited Programs, visited March 27, 2016; http://apps.apa.org/accredsearch/?_ga=1.120283918.72239646.1430315672
5. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, "Master's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study and state or jurisdiction: 2011-12," visited March 25, 2016; https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_319.40.asp
6. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, "Instructions for Making Application Under Provision of Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act," visited March 27, 2016; https://www.idfpr.com/renewals/apply/forms/psy.pdf
7. School pages: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://illinois.edu/; Northwestern University, http://www.northwestern.edu/; University of Chicago, http://www.uchicago.edu/; University of Illinois at Chicago, http://www.uic.edu/; Loyola University Chicago, http://www.luc.edu/
8. U.S. News & World Report, Education Rankings, Psychology Schools, visited on March 25, 2016; http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/psychology-rankings