After your B.A. in Psychology Degree:
Graduate Work, Licensing & Certification Options

Master's Degrees:

The next level of education after the B.A. is a master's degree.

Sonoma State offers two psychology-related M.A. degrees (in two separate departments):

M.A. in Psychology [The Psychology Department offers two class-based emphases, in organization development and depth psychology, and two portfolio-based emphases, in art therapy and humanistic-transpersonal psychology. The art therapy option is more highly structured than the humanistic-transpersonal option.] Go to

M.A. in Counseling [offered by the Counseling Education Department, with tracks leading to the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license and the Pupil Personnel Services Credential)]. Go to

Another Sonoma State program to consider is the Hutchins/ITDS M.A. focused on "Action for a Viable Future," beginning fall 2001.

The other major master's program with a humanistic-existential-transpersonal orientation is at the State University of West Georgia (Carrollton, GA 30118). Go to Bay Area programs with a transpersonal orientation include the California Institute of Integral Studies, the Institute of Transpersonal psychology, and J. F. Kennedy University. New College of California (in Santa Rosa) has a community activism orientation.

Other specialties to consider include:

Most California State University campuses offer programs leading to the MFT license in a variety of departments including psychology, counseling, and sociology. Check with the specific campus catalog.

Some CSU and University of California campuses offer the MSW (master of social work) degree, whose graduates are eligible for the LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) license

Also consider programs in areas such as child development, human development, gerontology, education, and vocational rehabilitation.

Doctoral Degrees

In psychology, the principal doctoral degrees are the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy), Psy.D. (doctor of psychology), and Ed.D. (doctor of education). Not all doctoral programs require a master's degree. Some award a master's degree on the way to the doctorate, and some give the master's as a consolation prize to students who do not make the cut for doctoral candidacy.

Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy). This is primarily a research degree, and is the degree most often associated with university teaching. (You may teach at a junior college with a masters degree.) Although some clinically oriented programs still offer this degree, the accreditation authorities are pushing to limit it to research programs. All of the humanistic and transpersonal Ph.D. programs except Duquesne (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) are in so-called "free standing" institutes. That means the program is not associated with a larger university. Duquesne is a private Jesuit university. Because these programs are tuition supported, they tend to be very expensive. In regionally accredited programs, students are eligible for federal student loans, and that tends to be the extent of the financial support available. Doctoral programs in multidisciplinary universities typical support graduate students with teaching and research fellowships. (We do not know what kind of student support, in addition to loans, is available at Duquesne.) For more information on humanistic graduate programs go to the Consortium for Diversified Psychology web site at Interesting Bay Area programs that are not members of CDPP include the Wright Institute, J. F. Kennedy University, and the Institute of Imaginal Studies (the latter is not regionally accredited--see below).

Psy.D. (doctor of psychology). This is a relatively new degree that arose out of the need to include more practical training and less research in programs aimed primarily at practitioners. Most Psy.D. programs are in free standing institutes (see above).

Ed.D. (doctor of education). This degree is generally awarded by programs in schools of education. These schools often offer programs in counseling as well as in teaching, research, and administration. They also support research on a variety of issues related to learning and human development.

Also look into a variety of specialized and interdisciplinary areas such as human development, gerontology, industrial and organizational psychology, gender studies, area studies, applied behavioral or social science, cognitive or neuro science, etc.


There are basically two kinds of accreditation: regional and professional:

Regional accreditation is awarded by regional accrediting associations. In California, regional accrediting association is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC--Sonoma State is accredited by WASC.) In California, there are also state approved schools such as the Institute of Imaginal Studies in Petaluma. Graduates of California approved schools can sit for licensing in California. However, regional accreditation is important for federal student loans and for assuring that the degree will be recognized by agencies in other states.

Professional accreditation is awarded by professional associations. The only accrediting body in the field of psychology is the American Psychological Association (APA). APA accreditation applies only to doctoral programs. APA has been lobbying to make APA accreditation a requirement for psychology licensing. However, its is not required in many states, including California, and there are many forces working against, as well as for, this trend.

Licensing, Certification, and Registration:

Licensing of professions is controlled by the states. In California, the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners controls the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) licenses. The Board of Psychology controls the psychologist's license. A list of addresses and telephone numbers of boards and agencies for statutory licensure is available from ASPPB (The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards). A person with this license is referred to as a "licensed psychologist." S/he may also be referred to as a "clinical psychologist" or a "psychotherapist," although it is possible to practice psychotherapy with an MFT license. [A "psychiatrist" is a person with an M.D. (doctor of medicine), and almost always a residency in psychiatry. A "psychoanalyst" has gone through an extensive postdoctoral training program at a psychoanalytic institute.]

Licenses typically require supervised post-degree internship experience and written and oral examinations. Licensing is usually a prerequisite for third part insurance reimbursement, but the move toward HMOs is severely limiting third party payments for mental health services.

Certification and Registration. These credentials are controlled by professional associations (for example, the American Art Therapy Association). Registration or certification indicates that you have complied with the standards established by the association, which are generally similar to professional accreditation standards. You are subject to criminal penalties if you represent your self as certified or registered when you are not, but the state exercises no control over the standards involved.

The Sonoma State Psychology Department offers programs that lead to registration in art therapy and certification in biofeedback.

--Compiled by Kim Adams & Art Warmoth