Online Psychology Degree Programs in Iowa

Psychology is one of the most popular degrees for college and university students nationwide. With a degree in psychology, graduates have the ability to move into several different industries, such as healthcare, education, business, and the legal system. Career flexibility disperses psychology professionals among a variety of fields, ensuring that no single area is oversaturated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that each of the most common professions for psychology graduates — psychology, social work, and counseling — will grow at rates greater than the national average.

In Iowa, the professional outlook for psychologists is also positive. According to the BLS, the number of in-state psychology positions is projected to grow at the same rate as the national level (just under 10%), while the projected growth among psychology teachers is even higher. The driving force behind this projected growth is the higher education system’s focus on the field of psychology. Many of the 63 higher education institutions in Iowa, including 19 public colleges and three public universities, contain psychology programs. As Iowa’s population of 3.1 million continues to grow throughout the state’s densely populated metropolitan areas, the professional outlook for psychology should remain strong.

Mental Health Initiatives in Iowa

Mental health is one of the biggest concerns for health officials in Iowa. While the numbers suggest that the state has one of the strongest mental health outlooks in the country, the Iowa Department of Public Health identified mental health as the second biggest health issue facing Iowans. There is also a mental health workforce shortage that threatens to undermine many health programs. To ensure that Iowa doesn’t fall behind in the fight for improved mental health, the Department of Public Health created Healthy Iowans: Iowa’s Health Improvement Plan 2017-2021. This plan provides strategies and resources to help Iowans maintain and improve their mental and physical health. The Iowa Health and Wellness Plan was introduced to aid citizens with low incomes, providing comprehensive health coverage for those who cannot afford it in.

Additionally, in an effort to address the growing mental health concerns in the state, the Iowa Department of Human Services developed and implemented the Mental Health and Disability Services Redesign plan in 2014. The refocused efforts and additional funding in this plan helps in-state mental health programs and services deliver timely and effective help to all Iowans. The revised programs and services, including crisis response, treatments, therapies, employment assistance, recovery programs, home health aides, and community living programs, must meet statewide standards to ensure high-quality healthcare.

How do I Become a Psychologist in Iowa?

In order to become a psychologist in Iowa, students must follow steps similar to those required in other states across the country. Once a student has graduated from their psychology program, they must apply for licensure with the Iowa Board of Psychology. The application costs and exact procedures in Iowa vary compared to other states.

Choose the Path That’s Right for You: While an online psychology degree in Iowa provides access to many careers, becoming a psychologist requires, at minimum, a doctoral degree in psychology (PsyD) or a traditional research doctorate (Ph.D). The difference between these two degrees is typically related to their length and the required clinical experience; a PsyD program is often shorter in length but requires the completion of more clinical hours. Both of these degrees allow for concentrations and advanced training programs that help psychologists specialize their profession.

Some common areas of specialization include clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and child psychology. Additionally, Iowa is one of the few states that allows psychologists who have completed specific advanced training to prescribe medications for mental health disorders.

Earn Your Degree: After deciding what degree is best for you, the next step is to choose a school and a program. There are several graduate-level online psychology degrees in Iowa. The admission requirements vary between schools, but Ph.D programs typically require a master’s degree in psychology for entrance. Some PsyD programs allow applicants with bachelor’s degrees in psychology to enter directly into a doctoral degree program. These programs may request completion of some graduate-level prerequisites before acceptance. While both degrees feature heavy clinical components, PsyD programs typically begin clinicals earlier.

Most programs also provide a practicum and an internship, enabling students to receive a large amount of practice before graduating. In Iowa, psychologists must have an additional 1,500 hours of supervised professional experience after graduation to qualify for licensure. Because PsyD degrees begin their clinical work earlier and Ph.Ds feature a much heavier research component, the length of study for these degrees is different; the average PsyD program takes between four and six years and the average Ph.D program takes between five and seven years.

Earn Your License: Once a psychologist candidate has graduated with a doctoral degree and completed the requisite postgraduate supervised hours, the next step is passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the EPPP consists of 225 multiple-choice questions and requires a score of approximately 70% to pass. Registrants have just over four hours to complete the exam. Built to gauge the candidate’s foundational knowledge, the EPPP ensures passing candidates are qualified for entry into the psychology profession; however, it does not guarantee employment. Although a graduate’s education helps prepare them for this test, the ASPPB advises potential test takers to utilize study materials, practice exams, and workshops before taking the exam. The amount of required study depends on the aptitude of the candidate, although the American Psychological Association suggests that anything more than 200 hours of studying may become counterproductive.

Psychology Licensing in Iowa

While the end goal of many psychology candidates is to become a licensed psychologist, there are several different career options available, many of which have their own licensing requirements. Most PsyD and psychology Ph.D programs in Iowa have specialization options, which students complete by choosing degree concentrations or professional tracks. The table below lists some of the primary professional licenses available to psychologists as well as the accompanying requirements.

Licensed Psychologist

Accredited doctoral degree in psychology, 1,500 hours of supervised professional experience, and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

Careers Available With This License: Psychologist and psychology teacher

Total Fees: $120

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in psychology or a related field and a passing score on the social work licensing exam presented by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Supervised work experience is also required.

Careers Available With This License: Social worker and child development practitioner

Total Fees: $120

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

Master’s or doctoral degree in psychology or a related field, completion of supervised work requirements, and a passing score on the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Board’s Examination in Marital and Family Therapy.

Careers Available With This License: Marriage counselor and family therapist

Total Fees: $120

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

Master’s or doctoral degree in psychology or a related field, completion of required supervised clinical hours, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Careers Available With This License: Mental health counselor and social worker

Total Fees: $120

National Certified Counselor (NCC)

Master’s or doctoral degree in a psychology-related field as well as completion of the necessary supervised work hours. Must also pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination of the NBCC.

Careers Available With This License: Mental health counselor and social worker

Total Fees: $120

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Iowa

Internships and fellowships have may similarities, but they also have some differences. For the most part, psychology internships are filled by bachelor’s and master’s students, exchanging their work for school credit. Alternatively, fellowships are typically offered to doctoral students or postdoc graduates. These tend to be full-time positions and allow Ph.D candidates to satisfy a substantial portion of their required supervised clinical requirements. The following list contains a few of the internships and fellowships available to students pursuing an online psychology degree in Iowa.

Psychology Careers in Iowa

As Iowa’s departments of public health and human services improve the state’s mental health programs and services, the professional outlook for graduates of an online psychology degree in Iowa remains strong. According to the BLS, the field of clinical psychology, including licensed counselors and school psychologists, is projected to grow by more than 14% in Iowa. The number of psychologists in the education industry is expected to experience even greater professional growth, increasing by nearly 18% over the next decade. All other psychology-related careers, including child psychology, sports psychology, and forensic psychology, are also projected to grow faster than the average career in the U.S.

How Much do Psychologists Make in Iowa?

While the earning potential for psychologists in Iowa depends entirely on experience, location, and expertise, typical salaries in this field are quite substantial. In Iowa, the annual mean wage for psychologists is more than $75,000. While this is slightly lower than the national average, the state’s cost-of-living index is more than 8% below the national average, and the housing prices are nearly 19% lower than the national average.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Iowa 70 $36.09 $75,070
United States 122,310 $38.77 $80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in Iowa

Large mental health facilities are a great place for new graduates of psychology programs in Iowa to begin their career search. The list below describes some of the state’s biggest mental health service providers. These organizations have a wealth of positions available for psychologists with different levels of experience and specializations.

  • Independence Mental Health Institute: The Independence Mental Health Institute provides acute psychiatric services for adults, adolescents, and children in the Iowa area. The hospital delivers individualized care based on a patient’s needs. The staff consists of doctors, psychologists, nurses, social workers, therapists, and resident treatment workers.
  • Cherokee Mental Health Institute (CMHI): The CMHI is an inpatient psychiatric hospital that works with adults, children, and adolescents. A group of psychologists, counselors, social workers, nurses, and resident treatment workers provide group counseling, medication, activity therapy, and special education programs for patients.
  • Southern Iowa Mental Health Center: The Southern Iowa Mental Health Center provides comprehensive mental and behavioral healthcare services and programs to individuals and families. Programs deal with children’s mental health, parent-child interactive therapy, integrated home health services, and adult mental health.
  • UnityPoint Health – Des Moines: UnityPoint Health is a network of 50 UnityPoint Clinic locations. This organization delivers hospital-, clinic-, and home-based care for patients in Des Moines and central Iowa. Patients of all ages can access mental health services.
  • CHI Health: CHI Health is a health network consisting of 14 hospitals, two behavioral health facilities, and 150 physician locations. Serving 18 states in total, this wing of CHI Health provides comprehensive mental health services to southwestern Iowa.

Mental Health Research Centers in Iowa

Mental health service providers often base new treatment techniques on the research and developments made at mental health research centers. For new graduates, these research centers can provide rewarding entry-level positions, allowing workers to gain useful clinical experience and excellent training. The list below describes some of the largest mental and behavioral health research centers in Iowa.

  • DeLTA Center: The DeLTA Center addresses large-scale challenges in health and education by establishing new processes of learning and development; this information is passed on to the next generation of scientists and community partners.
  • Rural Telehealth Research Center: The Rural Telehealth Research Center conducts research related to telehealth in rural areas. The goal of the center is to enhance rural access to care and advance the performance of telehealth systems across the nation.
  • Iowa Neuroscience Institute: Part of the University of Iowa, the Neuroscience Institute conducts research across many disciplines, including cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, cellular and molecular mechanisms, and translational neuroscience. One of the major goals of the institute is to disseminate research and information from the neuroscience community to the world.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

Professional organizations are an important facet of many industries, providing an efficient way for like-minded professionals to interact. For students in psychology Ph.D programs in Iowa and experienced mental health professionals, the following organizations provide networking opportunities, industry resources, access to continuing education, and various career services. These organizations also work to advance the profession and fight to improve the industry as a whole.

  • Iowa Psychological Association: The Iowa Psychological Association advocates for the industry and its professionals. It also provides practice assistance, professional development, and professional recognition for its members. Students can join, and the association provides mentoring opportunities and access to industry resources.
  • Iowa School Psychologists Association: The Iowa School Psychologists Association works with parents, teachers, and administrators in the state to better understand mental health and behavioral issues in school systems. Members receive educational and professional development opportunities and access to networking events.
  • Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association: Part of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the IMHCA is dedicated to meeting the professional needs of its members, including professional development, continuing education, and promoting the profession within the community and state government.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in Iowa

Iowa Tuition Grant

Iowa Tuition Grants are available to Iowa students who demonstrate financial need. To qualify, students must be enrolled in one of the state’s eligible private institutions.

  • Amount Offered: $6,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: July 18
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be Iowa residents and enrolled in one of the state’s eligible private institutions. Preference is given to applicants with financial need.

Iowa UMF College Scholarships

Sponsored and funded by the Iowa United Methodist Foundation, these scholarships are available to students who demonstrate academic excellence and community leadership.

  • Amount Offered: $2,150
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate leadership, academic excellence, and faithful membership to the United Methodist Church.

Iowa's Matthew Shepard Scholarships

These scholarships reward students who demonstrate both academic excellence and commitment to helping the LGBTQ community in Iowa.

  • Amount Offered: $40,000 over four years
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, community leadership, and financial need.

MGMA Midwest Section Scholarships

MCMA Midwest Section scholarships are available to undergraduate or graduate students in a medical practice or medical practice management field. Awards seek to advance these fields and reward future leaders.

  • Amount Offered: $2,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: May 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be in a field related to medical practice and reside in the Midwest.

Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship

These awards are given to students with financial need working toward their first degree in the United States. The program rewards faith-based leadership and academic excellence.

  • Amount Offered: $2,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be members of a Presbyterian church, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled in an accredited college or university.

Geis Memorial Award

This award is provided to a doctoral candidate working on research related to the psychology of women. The scholarship is designed to help promote and advance feminist scholarship and psychology.

  • Amount Offered: $15,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be advanced doctoral candidates focusing their research on the psychology of women.

Janet Hyde Graduate Student Research Grant

This grant is awarded to doctoral students in psychology who support and/or are interested in research regarding gender and women in psychology.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: May 1 and September 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must complete proposal requirements.

Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship

This fellowship program is designed to support graduate research in the field of child psychology. The financial award is meant to help nurture future leaders in the field and contribute to the advancement of the profession.

  • Amount Offered: $25,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: November 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence and have an aptitude for research.

Benton-Meier Scholarship

Sponsored by the American Psychological Foundation, this award is given to graduate students in the field of neuropsychology to help advance the field.

  • Amount Offered: $2,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: June 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must have completed their doctoral candidacy and demonstrate a commitment to quality research.

APF Graduate Student Scholarships

This award is granted to psychology graduate students who best represent the American Psychological Association. The Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology and the American Psychological Foundation sponsor this scholarship.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000 – $5,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: June 30
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be graduate students in psychology.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Iowa

Psychology students should be mindful of their school’s regional and/or national accreditation status. The regional accrediting body in Iowa is the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This organization ensures that higher education institutions and programs in the state meet certain rigorous academic standards. Regional accreditation is most commonly awarded at the institutional level.

In psychology, students should also check that their program has received national accreditation from the American Psychological Association. This accreditation is awarded to doctoral programs taught at regionally-accredited institutions in the United States. While APA accreditation is not always mandatory to practice psychology, it is strongly recommended. Many states only recognize professionals who have earned an APA-accredited doctoral degree, while many employers only hire graduates from programs that have APA accreditation.

Program Database of Online Psychology Programs in Iowa

Students interested in earning a master’s in psychology online in Iowa can consult the following list, which details every accredited online psychology program in the state. Comparing and contrasting multiple schools helps make it easier to find the program that best matches your academic needs.