Quality mental health services are vital for public health and safety, yet data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals a steep shortage of licensed psychologists in North Dakota. The state also houses one of the largest underserved populations in the country. The U.S. government, the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) established a program designed to improve access to psychological services in states like North Dakota — one that benefits new professionals. Specifically, early career psychologists who choose to work in designated mental health care shortage areas may qualify for the NHSC Loan Repayment program, which helps repay their student debt. In other words, graduates of psychology schools in North Dakota could serve some of the nation's neediest communities while paying down school debt.
A snapshot of North Dakota's psychology field, per BLS, APA and National Center for Education Statistics data:
- North Dakota's psychologist-to-patient ratio was 40 percent below the national average in May, 2015.
- North Dakota psychologists' average earnings that year: $79,910.
- There were eight psychology schools in North Dakota in 2016.
- Two university psychology departments were accredited by the APA while several more held regional accreditation
New psychologists cannot treat anyone, however, unless they are licensed.
|Region||Career||Total Employment||Annual Median Wage|
|Fargo, ND-MN||Mental Health Counselors||100||$46,300|
|Fargo, ND-MN||Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||80||$93,950|
|Fargo, ND-MN||Marriage and Family Therapists||$41,930|
|Grand Forks, ND-MN||Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||80||$62,700|
North Dakota psychology licensing requirements
The North Dakota State Board of Psychological Examiners (SBPE) oversees psychologist licensing — a mandatory credential for delivering care. Licensing verifies that professionals have the necessary training and experience to provide mental health services. That means candidates must meet set educational, clinical and assessment requirements. North Dakota is unique in that it licenses industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists separately from other psychology professionals, though most criteria remain unchanged. According to the SBPE, applicants must:
- Hold doctoral degrees in psychology, or another approved specialty. The Board will only accept programs accredited by the APA or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), or designated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards/National Register (ASPPB/NR).
- Submit a complete licensing application and associated documentation to the SBPE.
- Complete at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. At least half of these hours must come from a pre-doctoral internship; the remaining 1,500 hours may be accrued pre- or post-doctorally. Candidates for I/O licensure must complete at least 100 post-doctoral hours, 50 of which must include individual supervision.
- Pass the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology with a score of 500 or more. The SBPE must authorize candidates before they can sit for the exam.
- Pass a state oral exam covering North Dakota psychology ethics, professional standards and law. One cannot attend this exam until they pass the EPPP and complete six months of supervised experience. Once the text is completed, Board members will vote to determine licensure suitability.
Licensed psychologists in North Dakota must renew their licenses annually by submitting a Licensing Renewal Application and paying a $250 fee. Candidates are also required to complete at least 40 continuing education units (CEU) every two years. The SBPE maintains an annual list of acceptable CEUs, which may include certain coursework through psychology colleges in North Dakota.
Featured psychology schools in North Dakota
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota (UND) offers psychology degrees through its Department of Psychology and its Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services — the only two in the state with APA accreditation. Students can earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in a range of psychological disciplines, including experimental psychology, forensic psychology and clinical neuroscience. UND offers a number of research and practical training opportunities. Prospective psychologists can also help improve regional access to mental health services through the school's Indians in Psychology Doctoral Education (INPSYDE) clinical training program.
- Department: Department of Psychology, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services
- Location: Fargo
- Online Options: UND offers two online degree programs: a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University's (NDSU) Department of Psychology offers an undergraduate program and three distinct Ph.D.'s in Psychological Clinical Science, Health/Social Psychology, and Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience. Students can complete on-site laboratory research in several different psychological specialties, like action and cognition; existential experimental social psychology; and attention and emotion, among others. NDSU is perhaps best known, however, for its Colloquium Program. This department-sponsored lecture series invites nationally-prominent psychological professionals to speak and present their research in many different areas of the field.
- Department: Department of of Psychology
- Location: Fargo
- Online options: At the time of this writing, NDSU requires all psychology undergraduate and graduate students to report to campus for coursework.
1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. North Dakota State Board of Psychological Examiners, http://ndsbpe.org/
3. "Search for Accredited Programs," American Psychological Association, http://apps.apa.org/accredsearch/?_ga=1.260631757.1983335796.1462059967
4. "Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: Occupational Employment and Wages," May 2015, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm