Psychologists in Illinois can find rewarding career opportunities across the state, ranking among the top five states for employment in the field. With more than 4,700 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists working across the state, professionals tend to find employment in the Chicago metropolitan area, which is the third-highest region for psychology jobs.
Earning your online psychology degree in Illinois can pave the way to helping veterans with mental and physical injuries or students pursuing their own education. Our guide allows you to explore common classes you may encounter, information about the Illinois psychologist licensing process, and possible careers after graduation.
How Do Online Psychology Degree Programs in Illinois Work?
Students can choose from several psychology degrees, specializations, and certifications. Psychology colleges in Illinois offer multiple learning options, such as traditional on-campus programs and fully online paths. Typically, each student needs about four years to complete an undergraduate degree, two years for a master's degree, and 5-7 years for a doctorate. These timelines require full-time enrollment.
Some master's degrees offer accelerated tracks for individuals with bachelor's degrees in psychology. While doctoral programs may admit psychology students without master's degrees, earning a master's degree can reduce the time necessary to complete your doctorate and provide opportunities to study a clinical specialty.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Illinois?
Your online psychology degree in Illinois includes a foundation in the principles and theories of behavioral science. The courses below introduce you to general psychology and subspecialties within the field. Courses vary depending on the degree type and the school's specific curriculum requirements.
- Social Psychology
Social and cultural expectations often affect individual behavior. This branch of psychology observes how people behave in different social situations and settings. Students can review methods for studying social psychology and some of the research literature. The course introduces learners to concepts like social cognition, attribution theory, social influence, and stereotypes.
- Statistics for Psychology
Research in human behavior requires psychologists to work with statistical data and understand various presentations of that data, such as scatterplots, pie charts, or graphs. Statistical analysis covers general concepts and terms used in data analysis and allows degree-seekers to draw valid conclusions from data.
- Abnormal Psychology
Students can observe psychological disorders, along with current and historical paradigms as to what is considered "abnormal" behavior. The course examines the social and cultural influences on behavior and the cognitive and biological reasons for changes in behavior. Enrollees can explore the legal, ethical, and professional concerns related to diagnosing and treating behavioral issues and the needs of the patient, family, and community.
This course examines the biological basis of human behavior. Degree-seekers can learn the concepts and principles that support biological explanations for behavioral processes and various scientific methods for testing those principles. This course introduces students to neurons, neurotransmitters, and synapses to provide a foundation for understanding genetics. This course also calls on students to utilize research skills to evaluate biopsychology research literature.
- Lifespan Development
Learners in this course can explore milestones in human development and observe the external influences that may affect these processes. Students can evaluate research and theories to understand the physical, cognitive, and social processes during infancy and childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and older adults. The course calls on students to describe and understand methodological approaches for the study of development and to dispel misconceptions about human evolution.
Becoming a Psychologist in Illinois
Illinois requires psychologists providing clinical services to gain state licensure. This process evaluates educational preparation, supervised clinical work experience, and exam performance before granting a license. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requires a minimum of a doctoral degree for psychologist licensing, with options to become a prescribing psychologist.
Many schools offer concentrations or specializations within the psychology discipline. Examples include clinical or counseling psychology, child psychology, forensic psychology, or educational psychology. If you plan to specialize in a specific type of psychology, start your preparations early by seeking electives and interdisciplinary courses to tailor your education to your interests.
Earn Your Degrees
Most psychologists begin their education with a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related program, such as human services. Students at this level can explore psychology and behavioral science principles, history, and new developments. Next, each degree-seeker may progress to an online master's in psychology in Illinois with an in-depth study of a clinical specialty.
At the doctorate level, a student may choose between a Ph.D. and a doctorate in psychology. The Ph.D. emphasizes research, while the psychology doctorate focuses on clinical practice. The program should address professional ethics, patient assessment, treatment options, and biological, cognitive, and social basis for behavior. Students should also dedicate one academic year to an internship. Individuals attending a program not accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) may require additional post-doctoral supervised experience. The APA does not accredit fully online doctoral programs.
Illinois offers licensing for clinical psychologists and prescribing psychologists, which allows licensed psychologists with additional training in pharmacology to prescribe medication. Most new applicants seek clinical psychology licensing.
An applicant must complete at least one year of post-doctoral supervised practice, working primarily with patients in a clinical setting. Once complete, the state may issue permission for each candidate to sit for the examination for professional practice in psychology, a multiple-choice exam covering eight content areas.
The state charges a $150 application fee, and the national exam costs $600. Illinois also offers licensing by endorsement for those holding valid psychology licenses in other states with equivalent licensing standards.
Other Licenses and Certifications
While Illinois requires each individual providing psychological evaluation, assessment, or treatment to obtain a license, graduates of psychology master's programs in Illinois can also gain licensure in other areas of behavioral and mental health treatment. Licensing may still require post-graduate supervised work and passing a national exam. However, students can assist clients with mental illnesses and cognitive disorders without needing to earn a doctorate.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LCSWs combine mental health care with comprehensive services to help clients overcome disabilities or challenges to independent, healthy living. These mental health care workers may provide individual and group counseling.
Marriage and Family Therapist
These therapists work with couples or families to resolve conflict, deal with changes, or address behavioral issues. MFTs can provide diagnostic services and develop treatment plans that include group or individual counseling.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Professional counselors may work with individuals to overcome mental health challenges, such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. They may also treat mental illnesses or help individuals cope with injuries or dramatic changes in health or ability.
Salaries and Job Outlook for Psychologists in Illinois
More than 12.8 million people call Illinois home, where the median income is $34,196. U.S. News & World Report ranked the state 35th overall, with high marks in areas of education, opportunity, and healthcare. The state offers psychologists stable employment and salary opportunities, with more than 4,700 psychologists currently working.
Illinois anticipates a projected job growth of 5.9% for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. The average annual salary of $87,410 varies depending on the area, with professionals in the field earning as much as $98,390 a year in the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area. Illinois psychologists make more on average than their counterparts in Wisconsin and on par with the compensation offered in Indiana and Missouri. Area of specialization and the cost of living in a community both affect salary expectations.
Illinois at a Glance
Population Growth (2010-2018): -0.70%
Population Growth Rank: 50
Source: United States Census Bureau
|Mean Annual Salary||Projected Job Growth (2016-26)|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologist Salary||General Unemployment Rate||Education and Health Services 12-Month Employment Growth|
|Davenport - Moline - Rock Island||$98,390||3.9%||-1.1%|
|Chicago - Naperville - Elgin||$76,080||4.1%||2.9%|
Psychology Degrees and Careers in Illinois -- Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing the right degree or the right career path may seem overwhelming. Below, we answer many common questions that students encounter when selecting online psychology degrees in Illinois.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist in Illinois?
Expect to spend 10 or more years completing the required education to become a licensed professional. Psychology colleges in Illinois offer four-year undergraduate degrees, one- or two-year master's programs, and five- to seven-year doctoral programs. Once you complete your doctoral degree, you must also complete at least one year of supervised clinical practice before you can apply for a state license.
Are Online Psychology Classes Hard?
Online classes offer the same content and academic rigor as on-campus courses. Faculty use technical tools to provide multimedia presentations, videos, and class discussions. Most online classes do not require scheduled attendance. Students must employ skills in time management and self-determination to complete assignments as scheduled and stay on track with their work.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Psychologist?
Psychologists need excellent communication skills. They talk to their patients and actively listen to assess patient needs and accurately report patient progress. They must use problem-solving and analytical skills to interpret psychological test results and develop proper diagnoses and treatment plans. Psychologists must also be highly organized to keep patient records up to date, provide accurate details for billing, and track appointments.
What Schools Are Best for Psychology in Illinois?
Illinois offers multiple high-quality psychology programs. Students should consider the academic reputation of the school and its regional accreditation status, which is a key point in applications to graduate school and state licensing. Explore each school's available concentrations and specializations to ensure the coursework aligns with your career goals.
Is a BA or a BS in Psychology Better?
Both degrees require about four years to complete. The BA offers more opportunities to study psychology specializations or other areas of human services. The BS degree focuses on building analytical skills and an understanding of statistical analysis, often preparing for a research-focused graduate degree, while the BA can provide a foundation for clinical study.
Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Illinois
Accreditation is crucial to any reputable psychology program. Programs should be nationally or regionally accredited. Of the two types, regional accreditation is more common and the most highly regarded. Regionally accredited schools receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, and credits from these schools transfer easily. National accreditation is typically reserved for vocational and technical schools, and degrees earned from nationally accredited schools may not be recognized by other institutions or by employers.
Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Illinois
Internships and fellowships provide opportunities for students and recent graduates to gain valuable experience. The key difference between internships and fellowships is financial compensation. Typically, internships are unpaid, semester-long positions that award college credit. Fellows can receive a stipend, which may be equal to an annual salary, and work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist to research and write a dissertation.
Students should choose internships and fellowships that support their selected areas of specialization, such as developmental psychology or child psychology. Supervised practice sites may include hospitals or mental health treatment facilities, state and federal agencies, or nonprofit organizations. The sites below all offer opportunities for psychology internships and fellowships.
Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
This group of five mental health centers located in Chicago and its surrounding areas provide mental health services like counseling, therapy, and psychiatric evaluations.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
The hospital's Behavioral Health Division caters to patients with mental health, substance abuse, and trauma issues. The hospital provides inpatient and outpatient services to children and adults.
Joliet Center for Clinical Research
This private mental health facility offers mental health services and psychological research. An onsite clinical researcher studies mental health issues, such as adult depression.
Lakeshore Center for Behavioral Health
As an extension of the Chicago-Lakeshore hospital system, this center conducts research on voluntary patients and provides mental health services. Current studies include research into bipolar depression and schizophrenia medication.
Institute for Health Research and Policy
Created by the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1997, this institute uses health research to influence public policy and policy reform. The interdisciplinary center unites researchers from different colleges and departments.
Professional Organizations for Psychologists and Mental Health Professionals
Membership in a professional organization can help psychologists build a robust professional network to call upon during job searches, for patient referrals, or professional consultations. These organizations also ensure their members can access high-quality continuing education opportunities required for renewal of state licensure. Many organizations also offer discounts and access to business and psychological resources.
- Illinois Psychological Association This statewide organization offers resources for students, new graduates, and practicing psychologists, including licensing information. A quarterly newsletter provides updates on education, training opportunities, and licensure changes. The website features classified advertising for jobs, office space, and a referral search tool. The association career center also allows members to post their resume and access career coaching and resume writing assistance.
- American Psychological Association This national organization welcomes psychologists, students, teachers, and mental health professionals for membership. Fifty-four interest groups allow members to focus on their specializations, such as educational or rehabilitation psychology, and topical matters like trauma or aging. Members qualify for five free continuing education credits each year, discounts on books and to attend conferences, and discounted insurance and risk management services.
- Illinois Counseling Association Formed in 1948, the organization serves mental health counselors with professional networking, statewide advocacy efforts, and continuing education. Members can choose from 13 divisions for specific areas of practice with newsletters dedicated to each counseling specialty. The three-day conference offers more than 80 workshops on various topics that often meet continuing learning requirements. Members also receive discounted legal services and listings in the organization's registries.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association Mental health professionals can complete advanced training or apply for professional credentials with special discounts for members of the organization. The association also provides continuing education through webinars and home study courses. Students can find job postings and take part in professional development activities to enhance their resume. Members can enjoy discounted rates for professional liability insurance, a subscription to the monthly newsletter, and access to the scientific Journal of Mental Health Counseling.
- Illinois Association of School Psychologists This nonprofit organization formed in 1979 to represent school psychologists. Members receive subscriptions to School Psychology in Illinois newsletter and brochures, professional development sessions, and inclusion in an online directory. The organization also helps members find employment with online position postings and the opportunity to take part in interviews during the annual convention.
Scholarships for Online Psychology Degree Programs in Illinois
Illinois Fund for Careers in School Psychology
Conferred during the association's annual convention, this award supports school psychologists and practitioners who are members of minority groups or who plan to use their position to help minorities.
- Amount Offered: $5,000
- Scholarship Deadline: December 2
- Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a graduate psychology program recognized by the Illinois Board of Education and submit a resume, an autobiographical statement, and an essay.
Harry and Miriam Levinson Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to graduate psychology students. Each applicant must submit a research proposal, which the APA reviews for clarity, importance, and appropriateness.
- Amount Offered: $5,000
- Scholarship Deadline: June 30
- Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in an interim master's or Ph.D. psychology program and submit letters of recommendation.
Lee Hakel Graduate Student Scholarship
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology offers this scholarship to graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in industrial-organizational psychology.
- Amount Offered: $3,500
- Scholarship Deadline: June 30
- Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be enrolled in a graduate industrial-organizational program, maintain membership in Division 14, and submit a dissertation.
Irwin L. Goldstein Scholarship
This scholarship helps minority students enrolled in industrial-organizational psychology programs fund dissertation research.
- Amount Offered: $3,000
- Scholarship Deadline: June 30
- Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must be a member of Division 14, an ethnic minority, and a full-time Ph.D. student.
Find Online Psychology Degree Programs in Illinois
The database below includes every accredited online psychology program in Illinois. While researching potential psychology degrees, consider each program's admission and degree requirements to ensure the program fits your academic and professional goals. Distance learners should contact an enrollment counselor or admissions officer for more information about each potential program.
Explore Psychology Careers
Explore Psychology Careers
Mental Health Initiatives in Illinois
Illinois launched its ambitious Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative in 2018. This project, funded with a $2 billion federal Medicaid waiver, seeks to improve prevention efforts, implement evidence-based treatment decisions, and improve outcomes for individuals with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. Top priorities include providing early intervention for individuals and connecting patients to community-based mental health providers. The state invested the funds in 10 pilot programs to evaluate care alternatives and identify best practices.
The pilot programs seek to address opioid abuse and substance abuse, with residential and inpatient treatment services and clinically managed withdrawal. The state also offers comprehensive, integrated care planning that addresses physical and mental health needs as well as social and educational services. A crisis intervention plan provides easier access to stabilization services.
The Illinois Department of Mental Health oversees 162 community mental health centers and agencies, 27 community hospitals, and seven state-operated psychiatric hospitals. In 2018, more than 630,000 patients sought mental health services in the state.