Earning an online psychology degree in Tennessee can open the door to educational opportunities and professional roles focused on helping people live healthier, happier lives. Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14% growth through 2028 in the employment of psychologists as schools and communities offer more mental health services, while Tennessee expects 13.9% growth through 2026 for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.
This guide offers information on earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from psychology colleges in Tennessee, along with helpful career data. Each aspiring psychologist must complete an accredited doctoral program, demonstrate their clinical competency, and pass a rigorous exam. Use this guide to develop your career path and identify resources to help you along the way.
How Do Online Psychology Degree Programs in Tennessee Work?
More than 30 colleges and universities in Tennessee offer degrees in psychology, with 10 doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. Many schools offer online learning opportunities for psychology students at all levels.
Of the 10 doctoral programs available in Tennessee, none offer a fully online learning option. APA does not accredit fully online programs. It requires all doctoral programs to include significant on-campus learning to support faculty role modeling and assessment of clinical and counseling competencies. However, schools may supplement their curriculum with online coursework and still meet APA standards.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Tennessee?
Schools develop their psychology curriculum to offer foundational coursework and specialized electives. The classes required for your degree vary depending on the degree level and concentration, but the list below offers a sample of common undergraduate courses.
This introductory course helps students understand human traits and the factors that influence their development. Readings and discussions allow enrollees to explore theories like nature versus nurture and social learning. Key elements include Sigmund Freud's tripartite personality theory of the id, ego, and superego, in addition to the scientific methods used to study human development.
This interdisciplinary course observes how behavior affects health, especially in the areas of healthy living decisions. Health psychology examines why people continue to make health decisions with negative effects, such as smoking or eating unhealthy foods. Degree-seekers can learn how principles of psychology can improve disease education and prevention.
If an individual exhibits behavioral disorders, psychologists can apply several methods to attempt to change them. Learners in this undergraduate course can explore the research supporting behavior interventions and discuss when to use them. Fundamental principles include positive, negative, and conditioned reinforcement, escape and avoidance, extinction, and systematic desensitization. Students can also learn how to develop and evaluate behavior plans for clients.
This branch of psychology considers how other people can influence and change their behavior in social settings. The introductory class introduces historical and contemporary theories of social psychology. Enrollees can learn to evaluate the research methods used to examine social psychology and understand principles like social cognition, group processes, aggression, stereotypes, discrimination, and attitudes.
The human brain controls learning, memory, and actions. This course introduces students to basic brain anatomy and processes, along with explaining how illnesses or injuries can affect cognitive function and behavior. Students can explore new technologies that have expanded scientists' understanding of brain function and the questions that remain the focus of ongoing research.
Becoming a Psychologist in Tennessee
The Tennessee Department of Health oversees licensing for psychologists through its Board of Examiners of Psychology. In addition to psychologists, Tennessee also administers licenses for behavior analysts, assistant behavior analysts, and psychological examiners. The board ensures that mental health professionals meet the standards set by the Tennessee General Assembly and adhere to the scope of practice established by state law. The section below outlines the steps you must follow to become a licensed psychologist in Tennessee.
SpecializeMany psychological specializations build on foundational psychology courses with interdisciplinary electives. Students should consider their career plans early in their psychological studies to ensure they satisfy any prerequisites necessary to advance their understanding of a specific area of psychology.
Earn Your DegreesBegin by earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. An undergraduate degree typically requires four years of full-time enrollment, covering general education courses and specialized study in the fundamentals of psychology. Students can take elective courses that support their areas of specialization.
Psychology master's programs in Tennessee require 1-3 years to complete. Many programs include clinical education with practicums and supervised clinical experiences. Degree-seekers can delve into topics of child psychology, educational psychology, or counseling. Many schools require GRE scores and an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college.
Tennessee requires licensed psychologists to earn a doctorate in psychology, with a choice of the research-based doctor of philosophy or the practice-based doctor of psychology. The program must hold accreditation from APA or the National Register. These 4-7 year programs should include at least one year of supervised clinical practice where students work with clients to assess needs, develop treatment programs, and administer counseling or other intervention.
Obtain LicensureAfter completing your education, Tennessee requires a one-year post-doctoral supervised clinical experience of at least 1,900 hours. Once complete, you can begin the licensing application process by requesting a packet from the Board of Examiners of Psychology. The state requires two passport-style photographs taken in the last year, an official copy of your birth certificate, and your transcripts.
Tennessee also considers the character of psychology applicants. Each candidate must submit three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your training, education, and clinical performance. The process also includes a background check. You must pay the application fee of $175 and a $200 licensure fee.
Tennessee will issue permission to register for the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP), which carries a $600 testing fee. The state requires passing scores on the EPPP and the state's ethics and jurisprudence exam, which costs $100.
Other Licenses and Certifications
Becoming a psychologist in Tennessee requires up to 13 years of education and training. Completing psychology master's programs in Tennessee also prepares learners to enter mental health professions without spending 3-5 years earning a doctorate. These careers still require state licensing, but they allow you to provide mental health diagnosis and treatment for a variety of conditions and illnesses.
Social workers can find employment in many government and nonprofit agencies. They may work with a specific population, such as senior citizens or children. They can diagnose mental health conditions and provide counseling services while also assisting clients with other basic needs, such as housing or educational services. LCSWs must accrue 3,000 hours of non-clinical social work experience, 100 of which are supervised.
These experts can help individuals overcome challenges in their close relationships. MFTs can help families address behavioral challenges or adjust to changes. They may work in mental health centers or private office. MFTs must accumulate 1,000 hours of clinical practice, and 200 of which must be supervised.
LPCs assist their patients with a variety of mental health needs, including the management of chronic illnesses or coping with an acute mental health crisis. They may work in hospitals, out-patient counseling centers, or a private or group practice. LPCs must accrue 3,000 hours of clinical work, with at least 1,500 in face-to-face contact with clients.
Salaries and Job Outlook for Psychologists in Tennessee
Ranked first in fiscal stability in U.S. News & World Report's "best states" ranking, Tennessee continues to attract new business investment. Tennessee has also enjoyed near-historic levels of employment, with an October 2019 unemployment rate of 3.4%.
As of May 2018, approximately 1,800 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists worked in the state, and Projections Central expects a 13.9% growth in that number through 2026. Psychologists enjoy healthy salaries in the state, comparing favorably to neighboring states. Clinical psychologists earn from $40,490 annually in the bottom 10th percentile to more than $98,130 in the top 90th percentile. The Kingsport and Bristol area in East Tennessee offers significantly higher wages than other parts of the state, however.
Tennessee at a Glance
Population Growth (2010-2018): 6.69%
Population Growth Rank: 18
Source: United States Census Bureau
|Mean Annual Salary||Projected Job Growth (2016-26)|
Source: BLS, Projections Central
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologist Salary||General Unemployment Rate||Education and Health Services 12-Month Employment Growth|
|Kingsport - Bristol||$99,230||3.6%||0.5%|
|Nashville - Davidson - Murfreesboro - Franklin||$66,690||2.7%||1.0%|
Psychology Degrees and Careers in Tennessee -- Frequently Asked Questions
Asking questions early in your school selection and career exploration process can help you select a program that best aligns with your academic needs and professional aspirations. We've compiled a list of questions you should consider when selecting a psychology college in Tennessee.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist in Tennessee?
Tennessee's psychology licensing requirements comprise up to 12 years of postsecondary education, including a one-year doctoral internship, followed by at least one year of supervised clinical practice. State law requires you to earn a doctorate from an APA-accredited program or an institution included in the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. The state lists 10 schools that meet their educational standards on their webpage.
Are Online Psychology Classes Hard?
Online psychology courses must adhere to the same rigorous academic standards as on-campus courses. They require completing reading or writing assignments by specified dates and participating in class discussions or group projects. Online students need superb time management skills and self-discipline to ensure they stay current with coursework and assignments. Students should also know how to use online technology, such as video conferencing and document creation.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Psychologist?
Psychologists assist with challenging and complex mental health needs by offering empathy and compassion to patients and their families. Psychologists use their observations and active listening skills to assess each patient's needs. Analytical and problem-solving skills allow them to develop comprehensive treatment plans. They must communicate these plans to their patients and collaborate with them on treatment goals.
What Schools Are Best for Psychology in Tennessee?
More than 30 colleges and universities offer psychology degrees in Tennessee. Choosing your ideal program requires you to evaluate the curriculum, distance learning opportunities, academic reputation, and program costs. If the school requires on-campus sessions, consider the travel costs in your school comparisons. Ensure that the school holds regional accreditation and offers the psychology specialization that interests you.
Is a BA or a BS in Psychology Better?A BS degree offers a greater focus on analytical abilities scientific courses, such as research methods and statistical analysis. The BA degree incorporates more liberal arts courses and interdisciplinary electives. This curriculum can prepare each student for a counseling career and bolsters opportunities for learners planning to enter careers in law, social work, or education. Both degrees fulfill the bachelor's-level requirement for psychologist licensure.
Online Psychology Degree Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Tennessee
Accreditation is the process by which external agencies verify the quality of educational institutions and programs. In the U.S., universities offering degrees in psychology typically receive regional accreditation. Tennessee schools are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Vocational schools traditionally hold national accreditation. Regional accreditation commands the most respect and allows for credits to easily transfer between schools.
Individual departments and programs often receive field-specific accreditation. APA accredits the most highly respected psychology degrees at the doctoral level. Some specialized programs may hold accreditation from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, an international group representing mental health practitioners in the U.S. and Canada.
Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Tennessee
Obtaining a psychology-related license requires years of supervised work experience. Internships and fellowships provide psychology students and graduates with practical training in mental health professions. Interns typically perform unpaid work in professional settings, while fellowships are paid and offer responsibilities similar to those of entry-level employees, typically lasting for predetermined durations.
The nonprofit and government organizations listed below provide mental health services across the state. Consider them when looking for an internship or fellowship opportunity. Be sure to tailor your resume, coursework, and volunteer experiences toward your chosen specialization. Contacting these organizations can improve your chances of securing a relevant, meaningful hands-on learning opportunity.
Cherokee Health Systems
This Knoxville-based nonprofit operates clinics serving uninsured and low-income residents of East Tennessee. Cherokee offers behavioral health and addiction services on a sliding payment scale.
Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute
This large, Nashville-based medical institution provides long-term and short-term psychiatric care. It also houses a forensic division that serves the state's criminal justice system through expert diagnostic services.
Mirror Lake Recovery Center
Mirror Lake provides drug and alcohol addiction treatment to adults in Middle Tennessee. This private facility offers detox, residential, and partial hospitalization programs to help patients overcome addiction problems.
University of Tennessee Psychological Clinic
UT provides psychological and counseling services to students, faculty, and members of the public at its respected Knoxville clinic. The clinic offers quality behavioral care and allows UT psychology students to gain research experience.
Center for Applied Psychological Research
This center at the University of Memphis promotes scientific investigation into the human mind to find solutions to individual and community mental health problems. The university-affiliated research organization receives funding from the state government and external grants. Its work supports state and local mental health initiatives.
Professional Organizations for Psychologists and Mental Health Professionals
Professional organizations can help psychologists and mental health professionals connect with others in their field. These connections can build professional relationships, help psychologists earn patient referrals, and provide mentors to offer professional advice. Professional organizations also provide opportunities for leadership development and professional recognition. Conferences and workshops allow members to complete continuing education requirements.
- Tennessee Psychological Association This statewide organization offers in-person and online networking opportunities. The website includes a members-only forum, back issues of association publications, a membership directory, and several listservs. The annual convention, held in October, offers approved continuing education programs, and members enjoy discounts on travel services or with specific retailers. The organization welcomes student members, practicing psychologists, retired psychologists, and associate members.
- American Psychological Association APA offers general psychology information to the public and supports practicing and student psychologists with a library of resources, discounts on publications and books, and affordable continuing education opportunities. Members can gain publication in the association directory and access the psychologist locator tool. With 54 divisions and special interest groups, members can network with psychologists who share their interests.
- Tennessee Counseling Association This state affiliate of the American Counseling Association serves mental health counselors through local chapters and special interest divisions. Members can meet and work with counselors across the state, along with taking leadership roles and gaining professional recognition. The annual conference includes professional development and continuing education opportunities.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association Membership includes access to home study and online continuing education opportunities, in addition to discounts on professional insurance, practice management software, and advertising. Members receive the association's magazine and scientific journal, along with a library of white papers and clinical practice briefs.
- Tennessee Association of School Psychologists This division of the Tennessee Counseling Association promotes the role of school psychologists to help students and schools reach their full potential. Its fall conference and spring institute offer networking and continuing education opportunities. The website includes a professional job listing section and forums to communicate with fellow school psychologists.
Scholarships for Online Psychology Degree Programs in Tennessee
The University of Tennessee (UT) offers this scholarship to promising incoming first-year students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement.
- Amount Offered: $5,000
- Scholarship Deadline: Jan. 10
- Eligibility Requirements: Each applicant must be an incoming UT first-year student with at least a 3.75 GPA and either a score of 30 or higher on the ACT or 1400 or higher on the SAT.
This scholarship supports undergraduate students at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) who demonstrate academic achievement.
- Amount Offered: $1,000-$2,000
- Scholarship Deadline: March 1
- Eligibility Requirements: Full-time MTSU undergraduate students with GPAs of at least 3.0 who have not received any other MTSU scholarships may apply.
This scholarship, awarded by the Nashville Predators, supports college-bound students from Middle Tennessee who are recommended by teachers or coaches. Candidates must submit essays describing their commitment to education.
- Amount Offered: $2,500
- Scholarship Deadline: Feb. 15
- Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be college-bound high school seniors from Middle Tennessee with GPAs of at least 3.0.
Offered by the Tennessee state government in partnership with colleges in Tennessee, this renewable award supports state residents pursuing undergraduate degrees.
- Amount Offered: $6,000
- Scholarship Deadline: Feb. 15
- Eligibility Requirements: Each candidate must be a Tennessee resident with a GPA of at least 3.5 and an ACT score of 29 or better.
This scholarship supports employees working in Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association (TGCSA)-affiliated stores who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees.
- Amount Offered: Up to $2,500
- Scholarship Deadline: Feb. 28
- Eligibility Requirements: Each applicant must be an employee of a TGCSA store or the spouse or child of an employee.
Explore Psychology Careers
Mental Health Initiatives in Tennessee
Suicide claims more than 1,000 lives each year in Tennessee. In early 2019, Governor Bill Lee announced an effort to expand its partnership with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by connecting with community-level intervention programs and regional outreach efforts. Lee also announced increased funding to bolster recovery housing for people in recovery for substance abuse.
The state, like many in the Southeast, continues to feel the effects of the opioid crisis, with 1,268 opioid overdose deaths in 2017. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services sponsors a variety of intervention and prevention programs to help fight the problem of substance abuse.
About 52.13 Tennesseans per 1,000 Tennessee residents sought mental health services in 2018. Mental Health America reported the state ranked 42nd in access to care, while coming in at 22nd in the prevalence of mental illness. Lee announced efforts to expand Tennessee's behavioral health safety net program to thousands more residents lacking mental health coverage. The state also supports a variety of community-based programs and peer support to help individuals get care closer to home.