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Psychology Programs in Iowa

Now is a great time to pursue a career in psychology in Iowa, with job growth rates in multiple occupations trending higher than those nationally. Along with good job prospects, psychologists in Iowa have the opportunity to use a more extensive array of professional skills than those in many other states–in 2016, Iowa became the fourth state to allow psychologists prescribing authority with the appropriate post-doctoral training. This guide provides information on pursuing psychology-related education and careers in Iowa.

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Iowa Psychology Spotlight Programs

Iowa offers a variety of fantastic programs in psychology at all levels. Here are a few schools around the state.

Iowa State University (Ames)

Iowa State is a top-tier research institution that prides itself on student-centeredness. The school’s Department of Psychology offers both a B.A. and a B.S. in psychology as well as doctoral-level psychology programs in cognitive psychology, counseling psychology, and social psychology. Additionally, the department offers a certificate in quantitative psychology and a psychology-law concentration for students in the social psychology or cognitive psychology doctoral programs.

Undergraduate tuition in 2019–2020 was $4,021 per semester for Iowa residents and $11,615 for non-residents. All graduate students accepted to doctoral programs in psychology receive assistantships or other job opportunities that help pay for their educations. Assistantships come with a full-tuition waiver of $10,505 for in-state residents and $24,766 for non-residents as well as a stipend.

University of Iowa (Iowa City)

The University of Iowa’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences takes an interdisciplinary approach to modern psychology. The department offers bachelor’s programs in both psychology and neuroscience as well as doctoral programs in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, clinical science, and cognition. For students who want to tailor their degree to their interests, the department also offers an individualized graduate training track.

Undergraduate tuition in 2019–2020 was $9,830 per year for Iowa residents and $31,793 for non-residents. All admitted Ph.D. psychology students are guaranteed five years of tuition funding, which includes an annual stipend and summer support.

University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls)

The College of Behavioral Sciences’ Department of Psychology at UNI helps prepare students for work in human services, healthcare, business, and education. The department offers a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree with concentrations in either clinical science psychology or social psychology, and certificates in both military psychology and industrial and organizational psychology.

Undergraduate tuition in 2019­–2020 was $8,938 per year for Iowa residents and $19,480 for non-residents. In-state graduate tuition was $509 per credit hour.

Loras College (Dubuque)

This Catholic liberal arts college focuses on creating graduates who engage with the world reflectively, ethically, and responsibly. Loras offers a bachelor’s program in psychology and master’s degrees in general psychology, counseling, and school counseling.

Full-time undergraduate tuition for 2020–2021 was $33,500 per year, and graduate student tuition was $720 per credit hour.

Drake University (Des Moines)

Drake University offers bachelor’s programs in psychology and neuroscience that are designed to prepare students for graduate study. Drake puts a heavy emphasis on experiential learning through hands-on research and encourages students to collaborate with faculty on research projects. Students can even earn credit for their research work. This experiential learning is complemented by coursework in psychology and neuroscience theory.

Undergraduate tuition for the 2020–2021 academic year is $22,094 for the year.

Buena Vista University (Storm Lake)

Buena Vista University’s psychology program is an excellent option for students seeking a flexible bachelor’s degree. Not only is the bachelor’s in psychology available 100 percent online as well as on campus, but students can also take classes at partnering community colleges that may be more convenient to them. Furthermore, BVU’s psychology degree has only four required courses; the rest are chosen based on your interests in the field. The degree program culminates with a research project that students present at professional conferences.

Full-time undergraduate tuition in the 2019–2020 academic year was $13,530 per year.

How to Become a Psychologist in Iowa

Becoming a licensed psychologist anywhere in the United States can be a long process, and the system in Iowa is no exception. However, your hard work can result in a range of highly fulfilling careers. These are the steps to become a psychologist in Iowa.

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree: While you don’t necessarily need to earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology, it can put you on a more direct path to becoming a psychologist.
  2. Pursue a master’s degree: A master’s degree is required to qualify for doctoral candidacy in psychology and can be where you identify your specialization. Many doctoral psychology programs include the path to a master’s degree.
  3. Complete a doctoral degree: A doctoral degree in psychology is required in all states to become a psychologist. According to the Iowa regulations for psychologist licensure (240.3[1], page two of the document), your degree must be from an institution that is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools or an equivalent accrediting body. Your program must also be accredited or designated by one of the agencies or organizations deemed acceptable by the Iowa Board of Psychology.
  4. Submit licensure application: After completing all of the post-doctoral training necessary and passing the national exam, send all required documents and fees to the Iowa Board of Psychology to apply for licensure.

Iowa Psychology Licensing & Exams

Licensure requirements can vary by career in Iowa. This list gives guidance on how to become licensed in various psychology-related fields.

Licensed Psychologist

School/Educational Counselor

  • Complete a master’s degree from an accredited school counseling program. The program should include coursework in educational foundations, human relations, and exceptional learners.
  • Gain hands-on experience. To become a school counselor in Iowa, you must complete:
    1. A 100-hour supervised practicum. At least 40 hours must be in direct service.
    2. A 600-hour supervised internship with at least 240 of those hours completed in direct service.
    • Between the two hands-on experiences above, at least 100 hours must be completed at either the K-8 or 5-12 levels, depending on the endorsement sought.
  • Obtain a licensure recommendation from your school.
  • Apply for a Class G Counseling License from the Iowa Board of Examiners. These licenses are for prospective school counselors who don’t have a teaching license. Licenses are valid for one year.
  • Potential careers: guidance counselor, school counselor, vocational counselor

Licensed Social Worker

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. If you’d like to do higher-level work, you may consider pursuing a master’s in social work.
  • Pass the bachelor’s level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam (or master’s level for advanced licensing).
  • Submit a licensing application with a $120 fee to the Iowa Board of Social Work. Licenses are valid for two years. You can begin the renewal process on November 2 of even-numbered years.
  • Potential careers: family and child social worker, patient advocate, substance abuse social worker

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Mental Health Counselor

  • Earn a master’s or doctoral degree in mental health counseling from a CACREP-accredited program or a related degree with an emphasis on mental health counseling.
  • Complete a supervised practicum with at least 100 clock hours and a 600-hour internship. At least 40 practicum hours must be completed in direct service.
  • Pass the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
  • Submit an application for either a temporary license or a permanent license to the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science. Both licenses cost $120. A temporary license is a good option for graduates who have passed their counseling exams but still need to finish their supervised practicum or gain more experience hours. Temporary licenses are valid for three years, and permanent licenses are valid for two. You can begin the renewal process on August 2nd of even-numbered years.
  • Potential careers: behavioral health counselor, substance abuse counselor

Job Growth & Psychologist Salary in Iowa

Psychology and counseling-related careers in Iowa are on the rise. Here we break down salaries and job growth data in Iowa for a variety of those careers.

Mental Health Careers and Job Growth in Iowa

CareerMean Salary (2018)Average Salary Per HourExpected Job Growth (2016 – 26)
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors$54,650$26.2713%
Clinical , Counseling, and School Psychologists$85,260$40.9912%
Rehabilitation counselor$36,310$17.4613%
Social Workers (all other)$61,460$29.5518%
Marriage and Family Therapist$54,030$25.9827%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers$47,580$22.8722%
Behavioral DisorderSubstance Abuse, and Mental Health Counselor$47,600 $22.8823% nationally

Salary information from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Expected job growth information from Career One Stop.`

Recognized Psychology Specializations in Iowa

The following specializations are recognized by the state of Iowa and have their own licensure requirements.

  • Health Services Provider Psychologist: These psychologists receive additional licensing that allows them to deliver psychology services in a healthcare setting.
  • Clinical Psychologist: Clinical psychologists work with clients of all ages and can focus on specific areas of care and assessment to help with mental health challenges.
  • Marriage & Family Therapist: These professionals work with individuals, couples, and families to work through challenges affecting their relationships.
  • Social Worker: Social workers help clients, often from vulnerable groups, navigate difficult or painful periods and to connect them to useful resources.
  • Mental Health Counselor: Mental health counselors work with clients to manage mental health challenges, which might also include substance abuse.
  • School Counselor: School counselors work in school settings to guide students through issues they’re dealing with, like challenges at home or with classmates. School counselors may also answer career or vocational questions.

Iowa Psychology Scholarships

Most schools offer scholarships to their students at all levels. Information on these scholarships can often be found on the school’s financial aid webpage. Additionally, many programs provide generous graduate assistantships, which come with tuition waivers and stipends. Most doctoral students are guaranteed assistance upon acceptance. You can also learn more about how to find and win scholarships here. Here are a few other scholarships to check out.

  • Iowa State University Psychology Department Scholarships: Iowa State University’s psychology department offers three scholarships with awards between $500 and $2,000. All of them are need-based or give preference to students with financial need and who have a demonstrated interest in pursuing particular areas of psychology.
  • University of Northern Iowa: The university’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers a number of fellowships and awards, ranging from money for study abroads to that for tuition and fees.
  • Iowa Psychological Association: IPA allows you to apply for awards directly, in a manner similar to grant applications. There is no set amount to be awarded, and they are simply looking for excellent applications over having a specific set of requirements.

Iowa Internships and Fellowships

Internships and fellowships are often required for psychology licensure. Many programs have internal programs that help you find sites and experiences. For pre-doctoral internships especially, job search sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed can also be helpful in your internship or fellowship search. Check out our psychology internship page to get additional guidance through the internship search process. Here are a few post-doctoral opportunities in Iowa:

  • Iowa City VA Healthcare System Psychology Doctoral Internship: This internship includes a general psychology and neuropsychology track and is an excellent opportunity to work with veterans in a healthcare setting. This one-year full-time internship offers a $26,166 stipend.
  • Iowa State Student Counseling Services Doctoral Internship: Graduate students can gain counseling experience by interning at Iowa State’s counseling services department. This full-time, one-year internship offers a $31,673 stipend to four interns each year (2020-2021 rate). Other Iowa State Student Counseling Services training opportunities include a post-doctoral fellowship, graduate assistantship, and doctoral practicum.
  • University of Iowa Healthcare Postdoctoral Residency in Lifespan Clinical Neuropsychology: This highly specialized, two-year program provides one-on-one training with faculty who have a diverse set of specialties in clinical work, research, and didactics. You’ll learn about working with people of all ages experiencing a variety of psychiatric disorders, including traumatic brain injury, movement disorders, and autoimmune disorders. The stipend is $50,000.

Iowa Loan Repayment Programs

Iowa offers a loan repayment program for those who work in primary care in medical, dental, and mental health in rural areas in Iowa. The Primary Care Recruitment Retention Endeavor (PRIMECARRE) provides between $30,000 and $50,000 for a two-year commitment to a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) community in Iowa.

Iowa Psychology Resources

Here are a few resources as you learn more about pursuing a career in psychology in Iowa.

  • American Counseling Association of Iowa: This non-profit organization is dedicated to advancing counseling practice across the state of Iowa.
  • Iowa Board of Psychology: Housed within the Iowa Department of Public Health, the board manages psychology licenses for the state.
  • Iowa Psychological Association: As the primary state professional association in the field, this organization provides professional development opportunities and advocates on behalf of psychology professionals in the state.