As more Americans seek help for mental health illness, substance abuse, and other disorders, psychologists work on the front lines to provide help. In the U.S., 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 25 adults experience serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Many psychologists specialize in providing appropriate treatment interventions to help this population. Some psychologists work as field psychologists, conducting research on the mind, brain function, and behavior. Wisconsin offers aspiring psychologists one of the nation's best education systems and one of the best places to live, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Degree-seekers enrolled in psychology colleges in Wisconsin can look forward to great job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 14% job growth for psychologists in the U.S. between 2018-28, which is much faster than average. Use this guide to learn more about psychology coursework, state licensure requirements, and salary and job outlook for psychologists in Wisconsin.
How Do Online Psychology Degree Programs in Wisconsin Work?
Wisconsin offers some of the country's best psychology programs. U.S. News & World Report recognized the University of Wisconsin Madison (UW), University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM), and Marquette University on a ranking of more than 200 psychology schools. Both UW and UWM offer fully online options. Several other Wisconsin schools also offer a mix of fully online or hybrid psychology degrees, including the University of Wisconsin Stout, University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and Marian University.
Students attending online psychology colleges in Wisconsin spend the same number of years completing degrees as those taking traditional programs. Often, the same on-campus faculty teach the virtual format. Prospective psychology students in Wisconsin should ensure their desired school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accreditation ensures that schools meet standards established by one of the nation's seven accreditation agencies.
Employers will not value credentials from a college that does not hold regional or American Psychological Association (APA) accreditation.
What Courses are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Wisconsin?
Curriculum for online psychology programs in Wisconsin varies by school and specialization. However, schools usually offer some common undergraduate courses, such as cognitive psychology, lifespan development, and abnormal psychology. See below for five courses most psychology students encounter.
- Cognitive Psychology
Faculty teach students about human cognition from a scientific perspective. Degree-seekers study the various areas of the brain responsible for learning, language acquisition, and problem solving. Faculty employ technology like functional magnetic resonance imaging to highlight neural activity and internal mental processes in the brain.
- Lifespan Development
Learners examine classical theories and contemporary research that explain psychological development across the lifespan. Students learn how factors like biology, environment, and cultural background impact cognitive, social, and emotional development from infancy through the senior years.
- Abnormal Psychology
Students learn what constitutes abnormal psychology and disorder as outlined in psychology's principal tool for psychiatric diagnoses -- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). They explore the symptoms and treatments for various disorders, including bipolar, schizophrenia, and depersonalization disorder. Faculty introduce learners to theories that explain abnormal psychology, such as cognitive, animistic, and psychodynamic.
- Positive Psychology
Schools increasingly offer this course to help students apply positive psychology to cope with the challenges of college life. One of psychology's new domains, positive psychology focuses on how individuals and communities can flourish. Faculty highlight scientific evidence outlining the impact of positive psychology in areas of stress management, physical and mental health, and in forming strong relationships.
- Forensic Psychology
The prevalence of TV law programs helps drive interest in this subdiscipline. Often an elective, forensic psychology examines psychology in the legal system and court cases. Faculty discuss the strategies forensic experts use to assess witness competency, interview witnesses, manage expert testimony, and influence child custody cases.
Becoming a Psychologist in Wisconsin
Every state requires mental health professionals to obtain licensure before they can practice psychology. This section outlines the education, training, and examinations that aspiring psychologists must complete for licensure in Wisconsin.
Psychology offers dozens of specialization opportunities. By specializing early, learners can plan their education and identify schools that offer their desired program. Faculty at psychology colleges in Wisconsin possess different areas of research and expertise that influences the programs they offer, especially at the graduate level. The APA manages a comprehensive website that students can explore, including APA's 54 divisions representing various subdisciplines and interest areas. APA offers discounted student fees.
Earn Your Degrees
Aspiring psychologists need a doctorate to qualify for licensure in Wisconsin. Students begin their education with a bachelor's degree that usually takes four years to complete. A master's degree takes at least two years depending on the program and whether learners attend full time or part time.
Schools such as UWM, UW, UW-Stout, Marian, and UW-Green Bay offer bachelor's or master's-level online psychology degrees. Students often experience difficulty finding online doctoral programs in Wisconsin since faculty typically teach doctoral candidates on campus. Psychology students must complete internship or practicum requirements at the graduate level. Learners complete the most hands-on experience at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels.
Wisconsin's Psychology Examining Board oversees the licensure process for the state's psychologists. Candidates need a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. that includes an internship component. Applicants must complete 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience (SPE), including 1,500 hours of postdoctoral SPE. Applicants often make up the other 1,500 hours with a pre-internship.
Once candidates meet the board's SPE and all other requirements, they qualify to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), developed by the Association of State and Psychology Boards. The EPPP consists of 225 multiple-choice questions and is administered by Pearson VUE for $600.
Other Licenses and Certifications
Trained mental health professionals deliver invaluable services by working as clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists. These careers require at least a master's degree and training to meet licensure requirements in Wisconsin.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
The Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board oversees the licensing process for social workers. Candidates need a CSWE-accredited master's in social work and must achieve certification as an independent social worker or advanced practice social worker before they can obtain licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) licensure. LCSW applicants must complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work practice before applying to the board to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards' clinical exam.
Marriage and Family Therapist
The Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board oversees MFT licensure. Candidates need at least a master's in MFT from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants also need at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised experience that includes a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct client contact. Candidates must sit for the national MFT exam developed by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.
Licensed Professional Counselor
The board also requires a graduate degree in professional counseling or an equivalent degree for licensed professional counselors. Candidates must complete at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised professional counseling experience that includes at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact. Applicants who complete the 3,000 hours may apply for a temporary license at the same time as an application for a permanent licensure. All candidates must complete one of the following exams: National Counselor Examination, National Counselor Mental Health Certification Examination, or the Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor Examination.
Salaries and Job Outlook for Psychologists in Wisconsin
Wisconsin ranks No. 11 overall on U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the nation's best states to live. The state also trumps many other states in education and healthcare, ranking No. 14 in these categories and No. 24 for state economy.
BLS paints a bright future for psychologists nationwide and provides data outlining how psychologists fare in Wisconsin. About 200 psychologists work in the state, earning an annual mean wage of $80,620. In neighboring Minnesota, psychologists earn an annual mean wage of $93,310. In Illinois, psychologists earn $87,410.
Metropolitan areas provide the best job prospects for psychologists. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists who work in the Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI metro area make an annual mean wage of $88,790. Psychologists in Madison make $82,080, and those in Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI make an annual mean wage of $76,080.
Wisconsin at a Glance
Population Growth (2010-2018): 2.23%
Population Growth Rank: 37
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|
|Minneapolis - St. Paul - Bloomington||$94,260||2.9%||-2.3%|
|Chicago - Naperville - Elgin||$85,900||3.7%||2.9%|
Psychology Degrees and Careers in Wisconsin -- Frequently Asked Questions
Aspiring mental health professionals can reference the following FAQs to learn more about psychology colleges in Wisconsin and the skills psychologists need for success.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist in Wisconsin?
Degree-seekers spend 10-12 years completing a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate to meet licensure requirements in Wisconsin. Students finish degrees faster by transferring credits into a bachelor's program. Some schools offer dual master's/doctoral degrees in psychology. Students invest 4-7 years completing a standalone doctorate depending on whether they pursue a Psy.D., Ph.D., or Ed.D.
Are Online Psychology Classes Hard?
Psychology coursework increases in difficulty as students advance from lower- to upper-level courses and on to graduate studies. Faculty expects students to possess advanced skills in subjects like statistics and research methodology to succeed in a graduate psychology program. Learners complete a mix of theoretical and clinical courses, with more clinical work required at the graduate level.
What Skills are Needed to Be a Psychologist?
Psychologists need highly advanced communication skills to forge and maintain strong therapeutic relationships with clients. They also need strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to identify and help address clients' challenges.
What Schools are Best for Psychology in Wisconsin?
Degree-seekers interested in an online program in Wisconsin can explore several choices at the bachelor's and master's level. UWM offers a fully online bachelor's in psychology; UW, an MS in educational psychology; UW-Stout, an MS in rehabilitation counselling; Marian, an MS in industrial organizational psychology; and UW-Green Bay, a BS in psychology. Other schools may offer other options.
Is a BA or a BS in Psychology Better?
By design, a BA focuses on the liberal arts, while a BS focuses more on science and technical content. Therefore, a BS in psychology or another major in the behavioral sciences offers more lab and research opportunities than would many BA degrees. This experience gives learners sound hands-on experience that graduate schools find attractive.
Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Wisconsin
Many regional accreditation bodies in the U.S. accredit institutions of higher education. The HLC is the regional body that accredits colleges and universities from 19 different states, including Wisconsin. As the HLC accredits diverse types of institutions in a large area of the country, accreditation remains standardized. This standardization and rigor is why students may need a regionally accredited undergraduate degree for acceptance into a master's program. Many psychology-related licenses require students to hold a degree from a regionally accredited college.
National accreditation is the other primary accreditation type. National accreditation agencies usually work with institutions that specialize in career-related or vocational education across the country. Both regional and national accreditors may accredit institutions that offer online programs. Colleges with either accreditation can offer federal financial aid to students.
In addition to being regionally or nationally accredited, some departments or schools might also hold programmatic accreditation. Some examples of graduate-level psychology programmatic accreditation include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Some licenses might require programmatic accreditations. Attending a program with programmatic accreditation might allow graduates to bypass certain licensing requirements.
Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Wisconsin
While similar, fellowships and internships have significant differences. An internship often involves the exchange of services for credit. Psychology interns are usually still in school and may be paid or unpaid. Students of all educational levels can apply to internships. Fellowships are usually academic and often apply to graduate or doctoral students. Many fellowships occur after graduation and often provide a stipend and benefits. Degree-seekers enrolled in psychology programs in Wisconsin may be eligible for the following internships and fellowships.
Internships and fellowships give learners hands-on experience at clinics, mental health organizations, or other facilities. Internships differ from fellowships in that they offer both undergraduate and graduate students paid or unpaid experience for college credit. Psychology fellowships focus on postdoctoral students who participate in paid supervised work experience in their specialization area.
Aurora Psychiatric Hospital
A behavioral healthcare facility in Wauwatosa, this hospital offers adult inpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs. Services include adolescent and children partial hospitalization and inpatient programs as well as eating disorders and substance abuse services.
Rogers Behavioral Health
With several locations around the country and Wisconsin, Rogers treats children, adolescents, and adults. This facility offers residential and outpatient treatment for OCD, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, mood disorders, addiction, and PTSD.
Koinonia Residential Treatment Center
Located in Rhinelander, this facility focuses on family and individual treatment for those dealing with addiction and substance abuse. The center offers individual, family, and group therapy as well as support groups.
Offering locations in Marinette and Green Bay, this center specializes in treating substance abuse. The facility offers adolescent inpatient and outpatient programs, adult outpatient programs, and spiritual and pastoral care.
This center focuses on human development, neurodegenerative diseases, and developmental disabilities. The facility also includes the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center and the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The University of Wisconsin-Madison operates the center.
Professional Organizations for Psychologists and Mental Health Professionals
Professional organizations offer psychologists and psychology students abundant resources, including field advocacy, professional development, and networking events. See below for five organizations of interest to psychologists and mental health professionals in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Psychological Association The state's premier organization for psychologists, WPA works to advance the acceptance of psychology as a science. The group educates the public about psychological issues and addresses citizens' psychological and social needs. Member benefits include access to professional development, career management resources, and networking opportunities.
- American Psychological Association The nation's leading scientific organization, APA represents psychologists and psychology students. The organization boasts a membership of 118,000 clinicians, researchers, and others. The association manages 54 divisions. Member benefits include access to an array of publications, professional liability insurance, tuition refinancing, and continuing education.
- Wisconsin Counseling Association A state branch of the ACA, WCA plans to increase its continuing education opportunities as the organization grows. WCA also offers access to the Wisconsin Counseling Journal, networking opportunities, and professional representation at the state and national levels.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association A national organization, AMHCA sets the standards for ethics, professional practice, research, and professional development for clinical mental health counseling. Member benefits include access to advanced training, professional liability insurance, job postings, and practice management technology.
- Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Inc. WSPA consists of 15 regional groups that offer members venues to network and share information and resources. WSPA's member benefits include access to continuing and professional development, a quarterly newsletter, advocacy grants to support children's services, and legislative monitoring and action.
Scholarships for Online Psychology Degree Programs in Wisconsin
Elizabeth Lindley Woods Award
Offered by the Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Inc., the Elizabeth Lindley Woods Award is open to a graduate (non-doctoral) student enrolled in a school psychology training program.
- Amount Offered: $500
- Scholarship Deadline: January 10
- Eligibility Requirements: Students must be nominated by University of Wisconsin system faculty. Both student and nominator must be WSPA members. Applicants must be pursuing a master's degree leading to school psychologist certification.
WSPA Minority Scholarship Award
This scholarship, sponsored by the Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Inc., aims to support minority representation among school psychologists.
- Amount Offered: $500
- Scholarship Deadline: January 10
- Eligibility Requirements: Students must be recognized by their university as having minority status, must be a member of the WSPA, and must be nominated by the school psychology program coordinator.
Bernice Krolasik Memorial Scholarship
This award is open to non-traditional students pursuing a graduate degree (non-doctoral) in school psychology. The Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Inc. grants this award.
- Amount Offered: $1,600
- Scholarship Deadline: January 10
- Eligibility Requirements: Students must be WSPA members, non-traditional aged, and pursuing a master's or specialist degree in school psychology. Preference goes to those who plan to work in Wisconsin.
Schneider-Emanuel American Legion Scholarship
The Wisconsin American Legion awards this scholarship to assist a student pursuing a bachelor's degree.
- Amount Offered: $1,000
- Scholarship Deadline: March 1
- Eligibility Requirements: Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA for seven semesters of high school, must have been accepted to an institution, and should reside in Wisconsin. Applicants must also either be a member or be the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of a living member of the American Legion.
Women In Focus, Inc. Scholarship Program
Awarded to high school students, this scholarship honors students of color in Wisconsin. Recipients receive the award at a banquet in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Amount Offered: $2,500
- Scholarship Deadline: February 15
- Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be graduating from a high school in Dane County, be a student of color, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Find Online Psychology Degree Programs in Wisconsin
Now that you've learned about state psychology initiatives, potential job and internship opportunities, and licensing requirements, it's time to start searching for your ideal psychology program in Wisconsin. Whether you're looking for bachelor's, master's, or doctoral programs, start with the database below, which includes all accredited online psychology programs in the state.
Explore Psychology Careers
Mental Health Initiatives in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services gives residents access to various mental health services through community programs across the state. Community support programs provide customized professional treatment to meet an individual's needs and reduce symptoms to promote recovery.
Those living with mental health or substance use challenges also benefit from peer-run respites that offer a supportive, home-like environment. Clients stay up to a week at the facilities during times of increased stress or manifestation of symptoms. Meanwhile, children suffering with a severe emotional disorder, mental health challenge, or substance abuse benefit from coordinated service team initiatives in operation in 68 counties.
Some Wisconsin clinics serve residents with little or no insurance, opening up access to many who would otherwise go without. Still, Wisconsin reaches citizens with mental health and substance abuse challenges at rates less than the national average, according to the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to SAMHSA, Wisconsin has a 12.28 treatment rate per 1,000 population, compared to the 23.69 U.S. treatment rate.
Still, nonprofit Mental Health America (MHA) ranked Wisconsin No. 11 among states with "lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care for adults." MHA ranked the state No. 13 in terms of access to care.