Online Psychology Degree Programs in Montana

It's an exciting time to enter the field of psychology in Montana. The Big Sky state is a spectacular place of mountains, lakes, and prairies, and home to quiet villages and up-and-coming cities. The state boasts several fine colleges and universities — along with a handful of important research centers, clinics, and behavioral-health hospitals — making it easy to pursue an online psychology degree in Montana.

The state is also has a large need for psychologists. There is a severe shortage of mental health professionals in Montana, and graduates of psychology programs in the state often step right into good-paying jobs as soon as they earn their diplomas. According to estimates in a recent study by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, only 25% percent of the jobs in the state's behavioral health workforce are currently occupied, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts Montana will add at least 20% more mental health professionals in the near future. This means, of course, a lot of positions in this beautiful state sit waiting for psychologists to fill them.

Mental Health Initiatives in Montana

The need for psychologists in Montana is acute. According to a recent report by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, the state sits in the top five for suicide in the country, and adults take their own lives in the state at twice the national rate. Roughly 20% of Montanans struggle with depression, and the state has the second-highest rate of death from drinking among adults. But psychology professionals and state officials are attempting to change this trend by implementing a series of new initiatives.

Montana is working to address the fragmentation of care that occurred with previous budget cuts that split funding for substance abuse and mental illness. The state is working to reintegrate mental health by bringing those related fields back together, and has drafted a strategic plan to deal with addiction and rehabilitation. It is also working to provide better access to behavioral health services to people across the state by investing in telehealth, allowing mental health professionals to counsel people in remote areas. Finally, the state is trying to attract and produce new psychologists to fill empty positions in the mental health workforce by giving professionals the opportunity to live in one of the nation's most spectacular places, earn a good living, and help others while doing so.

How do I Become a Psychologist in Montana?

Psychologists in Montana follow the same steps to earn their licenses as psychologists in other states. The licensure process was standardized nationwide years ago, and aspiring psychologists in Montana may experience only minor deviations from programs and processes of students in other states.

Choose the Path That's Right for You: To be a fully licensed psychologist in Montana, you need to first enroll in one of the state's psychology Ph.D. programs. If you want to teach or simply be a counselor, you may only need to earn a master's in psychology online in Montana, but a doctorate will give you the flexibility to go any number of directions.

Earn Your Degree: Like other forms of healthcare, the field of psychology requires a lot of book learning and several hundred hours of clinical work. Montana is home to many excellent programs at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, both on-campus and via the web; many prospective psychologists complete their classroom studies online and find a local hospital or clinic to do their practicums. The process is a long one, however. Even if you elect to enroll in an accelerated online psychology degree Montana program, you can expect to spend the better part of ten years in school. Furthermore, Montana requires that students earn their degrees from schools accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). If a licensure candidate comes from a school without the APA credential, they have to follow additional steps to prove its credibility.

Earn Your License: Montana's licensing procedure is fairly straightforward. Applicants must be over 18, submit proof of a background check, an APA-accredited degree (or prove their credentials), and two years of supervised professional experience, along with a fee of $175. They then must pass the national standard Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which costs $687.

Most degree programs, especially at the doctoral level, prepare students for the EPPP exam, but it's always a good idea to take the practice test to familiarize yourself with the questions. Some candidates also sign up for 30-day study programs to prepare for the exam. After they've passed the EPPP, prospective Montana psychologists undergo an oral exam in front of the Montana Board of Psychologists. None of this, of course, guarantees a job upon licensure, but with the shortage of psychologists in Montana, it's an exceptional start.

Psychology Licensing in Montana

Graduates of online psychology degree Montana programs can move into a variety of positions. Like other healthcare providers, psychologists often specialize and they work in many different environments. Some provide individual counseling in private practice, while others teach in college programs; some help families as social workers, and still others do research in university labs. Different positions require different credentials, as the table reflects below.

Licensed Psychologist

Doctorate, passage of the EPPP test and Montana's state oral exam, 2 years of pre- and post-doctoral work experience.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Counselor
  • Therapist
  • Researcher
  • Professor

Total Fees: $862, minimum

Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)

Master's or doctorate in marriage and family therapy or related field, 3,000 hours of supervised pro experience, passage of the National Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Counselor
  • Therapist

Total Fees: $495

LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor)

Graduate degree with 60 semester hours, 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, and passage of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (LMHCE).

Careers Available With This License:

  • Counselor
  • Therapist

Total Fees: $395

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Montana

Many students pursuing an online psychology degree in Montana use internships — and fellowships, especially — to complete the field experience most programs require. Internships tend to be short-term positions that students take to sample a career, and they're often unpaid. Fellowships, on the other hand, are usually specific projects undertaken with universities or research labs, and they're often underwritten by grants and offer a stipend. Regardless, both are a great way to start accruing hours toward licensure.

  • Montana VA Health Care System Psychology Internship: These positions give students in their fourth year of an APA-certified program experience in the Veterans Administration, helping vets in rural areas.
  • Montana State University Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology: This year-long position in Bozeman puts interns into a counseling setting at the university working with other students. Interns perform psych evaluations, offer workshops, conduct consultations, and perform research. A competitive stipend is also offered.
  • Montana Academy Doctoral Internship: Based in Marion — not far from Glacier National Park — Montana Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for teens that offers a year-long doctoral internship in adolescent and family therapy. Interns assess, diagnose, and treat adolescent psychiatric issues.

Psychology Careers in Montana

Graduates of master's in psychology online Montana programs find positions in an array of fields upon licensure. Because of the state's relatively high rates of substance abuse, poverty, and depression, Montana has a particular need for therapists and counselors with skills in fighting alcohol and drug addiction, rehabilitation, and suicide prevention. But new psychologists and counselors can also find work in research labs, schools, private clinics, industrial psychology, forensics, and a variety of other settings.

How Much do Psychologists Make in Montana?

Because psychologists work in a variety of settings, in both the public and private sectors, their salaries vary greatly. Factors like location, experience level, education, and credentials also have a significant impact on salaries. While Montana psychologists make less than the national average, they get to work in one of the nation's most beautiful places.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
Montana 50 $34.92 $64,550
United States 122,310 $38.77 $80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in Montana

For newly licensed Montana psychologists, positions can often be found in the state's largest mental health providers. These places tend to hire at the entry level and generally provide room for advancement.

  • Western Montana Mental Health Center: WMMHC is the largest mental health provider in Big Sky Country, with centers in 15 counties providing services to both children and adults. Specialties include chemical dependency and child counseling.
  • Billings Clinic: The sprawling Billings Clinic boasts the most extensive team of mental health workers in the state — more than 3,000 employees — and it serves clients from both Montana and Wyoming. Billings has a psychiatric center and a behavioral clinic, and provides telepsychiatric services and hospital consultations.
  • Providence Psychiatry: Part of the larger, Missoula-based Providence Medical Group, the clinic provides outpatient behavioral care to adults and adolescents.
  • Urgent Mental Health Clinic: Set in Missoula, and part of the Providence Medical Group, the facility provides emergency help to people experiencing suicidal thoughts, extreme mood swings, and various forms of mental illness.
  • Montana State Hospital: MSH is the state's official psychiatric facility, offering in-patient psych services to individuals with serious mental illness, as well as addiction counseling, educational programs, and group therapy.

Mental Health Research Centers in Montana

Another place to begin searching for psychology work is the local mental health research center. These facilities are often affiliated with universities, and make ideal first jobs for any new psych grad, especially those interested in further study or a career in research.

  • Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery: On the campus of Montana State in Bozeman, the center specializes in the mental health problems afflicting the nation's rural places. Research projects have included youth intervention, brain imaging and depression, non-opioid treatments for chronic pain, and online cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Billings Clinic: A private facility in the city of the same name, Billings Clinic lists research as one of its fundamental missions. The clinic has its own Center for Translational Research and conducts studies in gender norms, dementia, stress, obesity and eating disorders, and exercise.
  • Montana Healthcare Foundation: While not strictly a research center, MHCF provides funding for mental and behavioral research projects in the state, especially among children and native populations. It's also actively addressing staffing shortages in mental health care across the state.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

Professional organizations are terrific resources for new and established psychologists. They offer an array of valuable services, including dissemination of the latest information, continuing education programs, and annual conferences, and they're particularly great for meeting others in similar positions. Those new to the field can also benefit from access to networking opportunities and job boards to find the best career fit.

  • Montana Psychological Association: The most active of the state's psych organizations, the MPA offers members discounted continuing ed, helpful listservs, advocacy and lobbying, insurance help, and access to The Montana Psychologist newsletter.
  • Montana Association of School Psychologists: A nonprofit membership organization, MASP links all state's school counselors, providing advocacy, posting job openings, and hosting “institutes” of further education.
  • Montana Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors Association: The state chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, MLCPCA represents more than 900 counselors across the state, offering networking, professional development, and hosting an annual conference and other events.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in Montana

Phyllis and Dennis Washington Foundation Scholarship

This annual grant goes to undergrads with critical financial need at the University of Montana, Montana State, and their affiliates.

  • Amount Offered: $10,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be from Montana, going into their first year of school, and have demonstrable need.

Bud Daniels Memorial Scholarship

Made annually by the Montana Farmers Union, in honor of former MFU president Bud Daniels. Recipients must be sophomores or above attending school in Montana.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be from Montana, have a 2.8 or better GPA, and be taking at least 12 credits per semester.

Montana Farmers Union Scholarship

Offered to Montana students to honor the state's rural heritage.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be a university or technical college and be members of the Montana Farmers Union.

John Korsbeck Scholarship

Administered by the Montana Farmers Union, this grant helps students attend a two- or four-year school in Montana.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be undergrads or non-traditional learners, and they can select any field of study.

Montana Governor's Best and Brightest Scholarship

Intended to make education more accessible to Montanans, this award goes to one student from each Montana high school.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000 across multiple semesters
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be from Montana, have a 3.0 GPA, and plan to attend a Montana university or community college.

Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship

This annual scholarship helps a student who survived childhood cancer in Montana (or Colorado).

  • Amount Offered: Varies and may be renewable
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Recipients will be judged based on transcripts, test scores, and need.

American Indian Education Fund Scholarships

This annual grant goes to undergrads with critical financial need at the University of Montana, Montana State, and their affiliates.

  • Amount Offered: Up to $2,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: April 4
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be of native blood and attending an accredited two- or four-year college, university, or technical school on a full- time basis.

Montana Western Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship helps students pay for tuition at the University of Montana Western.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: January 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be enrolled at the University of Montana Western.

Helen B. Miller Horatio Alger Scholarship

Named for Montana businesswoman Helen Miller, these grants help Montana university students attend Montana State University.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be from Montana and have demonstrable need.

UM Presidential Leadership Scholarship

Created through the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana, this scholarship helps one outstanding UM student over four years.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must be attending the University of Montana and demonstrate academic excellence.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Montana

When selecting an online program, it's important to make sure it's accredited by a reputable agency. In Montana, most of the finest universities carry accreditation through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, one of the seven regional accrediting agencies spread throughout the nation. In general, regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and granted to non-profit schools, while vocational and technical programs are accredited nationally. All of these agencies must meet the standards of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Both have databases where students can easily check the status of the schools that interest them.

Psychology programs of the highest caliber also hold accreditation by the American Psychological (APA) Association, and a school bearing it's seal makes licensure much easier.

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