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Psychology Programs in Wisconsin

Wisconsin pays some of the highest salaries to psychologists in the Midwest. It’s little wonder, then, that there’s such a high concentration of psychologists in the Badger State. Yet their numbers are projected to grow further, by 9% between 2016 and 2026.

This page gives the ins and outs of joining the ranks of psychologists in Wisconsin, as well as pursuing other psychology-based careers in the state. We highlight some of the most notable psychology programs in Wisconsin. We also simplify the tricky details on licensure requirements, point you to reputable fellowships that count toward postdoctoral work experience, and outline recognized specialties in the state. Additionally, you’ll find links to psychology-related scholarships, internships, and professional organizations for Wisconsinites.

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How to Become a Psychologist in Wisconsin

As with other states, Wisconsin offers different licensure paths for psychologists, private practice school psychologists, and professionals such as clinical social workers and counselors.

Here’s the general path for Wisconsin psychologist licensure:

  1. Snag your bachelor’s degree: It’s not essential to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but you will need to get your baccalaureate before getting a doctorate, which is necessary to practice as a psychologist. Getting a bachelor’s in psychology will help limit the prerequisites you need to take in a graduate-level program. Moreover, if you want to be a licensed substance abuse professional, you can do that without moving into a graduate degree.
  2. Wrangle a master’s degree: You may be able to skip this step if your goal is to use the psychologist title. But if you’re angling to become, say, a licensed social worker, a master’s degree is enough. (Though you would typically seek a Master of Social Work.) Similarly, in Wisconsin, school psychologists need only a master’s degree in psychology.
  3. Stick with it for the doctorate: A doctorate in psychology is required to become a psychologist. Earning a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology can take longer because the final dissertation—which must be developed, researched, written, and defended—can stretch out for several years after all coursework has been completed. A Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), which features more clinical hours and less original research, takes less time.
  4. Be supervised for a year: You’re not done after the Ph.D. You need to complete 2,000 hours of supervised clinical work within 24 months. Private practice school psychologists need only 1,200 supervised hours. Some mental health professionals need more.
  5. Get licensed: To apply for licensure, you’ll need one more thing: a passing score of 80% on the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which also covers Wisconsin state statutes. Private practice school psychologists can pass with a 75%. (See below for test requirements in other professions.)

Wisconsin Psychology Licensing and Exams

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services is responsible for licensing the state’s psychologists, social workers, counselors, and therapists. Here are the six main professions and their licensing requirements:

Licensed Psychologist

  • Graduate with a doctoral degree in psychology that meets state requirements.
  • Complete 2,000 hours (one year) of supervised experience that meet Psychology Examining Board standards.
  • Pay the initial credential, state law exam, and contract exam fees of $156.
  • Pass the EPPP with an 80% score.

Private Practice School Psychologist

  • Graduate with a Ph.D. in psychology, a Psy.D., a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), an educational specialist degree, or a master’s degree in psychology that is at least 60 credits.
  • Complete 1,200 hours of supervised experience that meet Psychology Examining Board standards.
  • Pay the initial credential and state law exam fees of $141.
  • Pass the EPPP with a 75% score.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  • Graduate with a bachelor’s, master’s, and/or doctorate in social work from an accredited program of the Council on Social Work Education.
  • Get certified as an advanced practice social worker or independent social worker.
  • Complete 3,000 hours (1,000 of which must be face-to-face) of post-master’s or postdoctoral clinical social work practice within two years.
  • Pay the initial credential, state law exam, and contract exam fees of $152.
  • Pass an exam on state statutes and codes with an 85% score.

Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor

  • Graduate with an associate degree or higher in a behavioral science field.
  • Show completion of 5,000 hours of work experience related to substance abuse counseling within the last five years.
  • Complete 360 hours of education in substance use disorder counseling in an approved program.
  • Pay the initial credential and exam fees of $150.
  • Pass the Substance Abuse Professional Statutes and Rules exam with a 76% score.

Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Graduate with a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited university.
  • Complete 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised experience (1,000 of which must be face-to-face with clients).
  • Pay the initial credential and exam fees of $77.
  • Pass the Association of the Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards Examination with an 85% score.

Professional Counselor

  • Graduate with a master’s or doctoral degree in professional counseling from a CACREP-accredited program.
  • Complete 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised experience (1,000 of which must be face-to-face with clients).
  • Pay the initial credential and exam fees of $77.
  • Pass the Wisconsin Statutes and Rules Examination and either the National Counselor Examination, National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination, or Commission on Rehabilitation Certification with an 85% score.

Job Growth and Psychologist Salary in Wisconsin

Below are salary figures and job growth projections for some of the most prominent job titles in the counseling and mental health fields from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


CareerWisconsin Mean Salary (2018)Average Salary Per Hour% Expected Job Growth (20162026)
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors$55,330$26.607%
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists$83,420$40.109%
Rehabilitation Counselor$31,510$15.1512%
Marriage and Family Therapist$51,070$24.5522%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers$46,730$22.4712%
Behavioral DisorderSubstance Abuse, and Mental Health Counselor$42,650$20.50N/a

Wisconsin Psychology Spotlight Programs

Although scores of colleges in Wisconsin offer a bachelor’s degree or higher in psychology, fewer than a dozen run doctoral programs. Most of these are from schools within the University of Wisconsin system. Here’s a non-exhaustive list to illustrate the types of programs available:

Alverno College (Milwaukee)

The Milwaukee-based Alverno College is sizable enough to offer not only an undergraduate psychology major but also two graduate degrees in the discipline. A women’s college at the undergraduate level, men are welcome to apply for graduate programs. Graduates of the Master of Science in Community Psychology program are eligible to sit for the Licensed Professional Counselor-in-Training credential. The educational specialist degree in school psychology, meanwhile, is meant to lead to a license as a private practice school psychologist. Interestingly, the institution doesn’t use a letter grading system, preferring to provide comprehensive feedback. Graduate school costs $833 per credit for the Educational Specialist in School Psychology program. Undergrads paid $14,328 in annual tuition in 2019, while part-time students paid $1,194. Online and evening courses were $545 per credit, with an additional fee of $400. Housing is relatively affordable at $1,904 for a double through $3,258 for a suite as of the 2018-2019 school year.

Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon)

A Christian liberal arts college in Mequon along Lake Michigan, Concordia University Wisconsin runs a Bachelor of Arts in psychology that mixes science and research with Christian service-minded curriculum. The specific goal of the program is for students to leave the program with the ability to better the lives of those who are struggling with mental health issues. All students must complete a practicum prior to graduation in order to gain practical experience. The sticker price for full-time annual tuition was $30,060 in 2019, though the school boasts that residential students average more than $16,000 in discounts and allows you to check on your anticipated costs via their net price calculator.

Marquette University (Milwaukee)

The Marquette University Department of Psychology runs programs at multiple levels: a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s and doctorate in applied behavior analysis, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Its Center for Psychological Services lets students work alongside supervising faculty to serve Milwaukee citizens with autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression, and relationship issues. They also offer a psychology minor, and for both majors and minors, some credits can come from high school AP test scores. Tuition at the private Jesuit university was $43,350 for undergrads in 2019 and $1,170 per credit for graduate students. The school notes that the overwhelming majority of students, both undergrad and graduate, receive financial aid, including full-tuition scholarships for undergraduates and travel awards for graduate students.

University of Wisconsin–Madison (Madison)

UW–Madison is the state’s flagship university. Its Department of Psychology runs an undergraduate major, as well as a Ph.D. program. Graduate students select one of six areas of concentration: biology of brain and behavior, clinical, cognitive and cognitive neuroscience, developmental, perception, and social and personality. University of Wisconsin—Madison charged undergraduate state residents $495.05, Minnesota residents $663.58, and nonresident students $1,622.54 per credit hour in 2019. Graduate students paid $807.19, $1,235.47, and $1,640.12 per credit respectively.

University of WisconsinMilwaukee (Milwaukee)

Wisconsin’s other major research university, UW–Milwaukee, offers a terminal master’s degree in health psychology to go along with Ph.D. programs in health psychology, clinical psychology, and neuroscience. The department guarantees funding for three years for doctoral candidates. Like UW-Madison, Milwaukee charges different rates for resident, Minnesota, and non-resident students, as well including as an additional cost level for Midwest students. Fees are on a tiered system; as of fall 2019, for 12-18 credit hours, residents paid $4,799, Minnesotans were charged $6,850.38, Midwesterners paid $6,850.61, and non-residents paid $10,584.17. For eight graduate credits, respectively, the groups’ tuition costs were $6,024.93, $9,543.65, $8,660.54, and $12,641.17. They also have a dissertator level for students who have completed all doctoral credits except the dissertation. For 12 credits, state residents paid $6,399.29, and Minnesota residents and other non-residents paid $8,699.29.

Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology (Milwaukee)

WSPP exists exclusively to boost the number of practicing clinical psychologists in the state. For that reason, the Milwaukee-based school offers the practice-focused Psy.D. Enrollees specialize in child psychology or adult clinical psychology. The school also awards a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology after students complete their graduate-level requirements and pass an exam, but it encourages students to complete the doctorate. A health psychology component is built into the curriculum, and the school also offers an optional four-course sequence in forensic psychology. You needn’t have a psychology degree to apply, though you need to have taken specific courses—if your undergraduate experience did not include those, you will need to go back to take them before enrolling. Given the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology’s mission and lack of undergrads, there are limited part-time teaching assistantships available. However, scholarships and federal loans can help offset the full-time tuition of $38,950 for the first year cohort and an average of $21,270 per year thereafter. Part-time students pay $1,025 per credit, as of 2019. Residency does not play a part.

Recognized Psychology Specializations in Wisconsin

If you want to know how to become a psychologist in Wisconsin, you need to learn the specializations recognized by the state. With the appropriate education and work experience, you can apply for certification or licensure in these areas:

  • Marriage and family therapist: Works with individuals, couples, and children to help them better communicate with one another and mitigate the damage caused by conflicts
  • Private practice school psychologist: Works in public schools and in preschool settings, where they leverage training in psychology and education to create supportive learning environments for students and recommend methods for teachers and parents to address behavioral issues
  • Professional counselor: Gives clients tools—not medications—to address strong emotional issues, such as grief and anger
  • Psychologist: Uses talk and other nondrug therapies to help people of all ages address emotional and behavioral issues negatively affecting their mental health
  • Social worker: Helps clients work through problems, both practical and emotional, and connects them to services that can help. Wisconsinites with a bachelor’s degree in a “human service program” that’s not a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) can apply for a social worker-in-training. Social workers have at least a BSW, whereas advanced practice social workers have a master’s or doctoral degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work. Independent social workers and clinical social workers are a step above—they must have master’s or doctoral degrees plus 3,000 hours of postgraduate practice
  • Substance abuse counselor: Uses individual and group counseling to help clients kick their addictions to drugs and/or alcohol and go on functioning without them. The state recognizes both substance abuse counselors and clinical substance abuse counselors. The former requires 3,000 hours of work experience whereas the latter requires 5,000 hours. Substance abuse counselors-in-training are at the beginning of their careers

Wisconsin Psychology Scholarships

Many scholarships are particular to the school where you’re applying. Although we can’t list each department award—you should head to your target universities’ financial aid websites for that information—we can give you a sense of what’s out there. Your first stop should be our general scholarship page, which features merit- and need-based awards that aren’t exclusive to Wisconsin. Below are a few more, both from prominent programs and statewide associations.

  • Asher Pacht, Ph.D., ScholarshipThis and the Richard Hurlbut, Ph.D., Scholarship are provided by the Wisconsin Psychology Foundation each year to full-time graduate students in an Ed.D., Ph.D., or Psy.D. program within Wisconsin. Applicants must send transcripts and recommendations from current professors by the end of November to be eligible for either of the $1,500 awards.
  • Barbara Lozar Memorial Psychology Scholarship: Two $800 scholarships are given to upper-level students in UW–Eau Claire’s psychology department who are from underrepresented backgrounds and, preferably, bilingual. Students apply with the department.
  • Bernice Krolasik Memorial ScholarshipThe Wisconsin School Psychologists Association (WSPA) distributes this $1,600 award to nontraditional students in a master’s-level program. WSPA also gives out the Elizabeth Lindley Woods Award and the WSPA Minority Scholarship, both of which are $500 scholarships for graduate students. Applications are due in January.
  • Booz Scholarship in NeuropsychologyCounselor education or counseling psychology grad students at Marquette are eligible for the Booz Scholarship, so long as they’re taking neuropsychology courses. The other departmental award is the Patricia C. Janz Scholarship, awarded based on need and character.
  • Michael Ferrin Rehabilitation Psychology Graduate Award: This variable award is from the UW–Madison School of Education, which offers a master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology and special education. It’s one of many for psych students at the university.
  • Song Family School Psychologist ScholarshipOne of two graduate awards for school psychology students at UW–Whitewater, the Song Scholarship goes to students with high GPAs and academic potential. The psychology department also hands out $300 to $1,000 scholarships to undergrads.

Wisconsin Internships and Fellowships

When scouring the Internet for psych internships and fellowships, one of the best resources is the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) directory. A simple search by program criteria returns more than a dozen Wisconsin-based positions. Not every fellowship is in the APPIC directory, however; others can be found on LinkedIn, Indeed, and similar sites. In addition, we’ve listed a sampling of relevant opportunities. If you want to improve your chances of quickly landing your target internship, review our guide for tips.

  • Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Health Psychology Post-Doctoral FellowshipA $50,000 stipend plus vacation and sick day benefits await the recipient of this new fellowship program. Applicants should be comfortable with psychotherapy, behavioral medicine, and psych assessments. A background in health psychology is, therefore, a must.
  • Marshfield Clinic Post-Doctoral Psychology FellowshipMarshfield Clinical Health System hands out four fellowships each September to postdoctoral candidates with a clinical or counseling degree. Pediatric psychologists, child and adolescent psychologists, and adult clinical and health psychologists are invited to apply. Successful applicants join a network of seven hospitals and 55 locations in Wisconsin. The fellowship comes with a $48,389 stipend and benefits.
  • Milwaukee VA Medical Center Psychology Training ProgramThe VA has a doctoral internship and two postdoctoral fellowships on offer for students of clinical or counseling psychology. The internship pays $27,248 and provides students with rotations in just about every unit. Applications are due in November. The clinical psychology fellowship awards $48,008, as does the clinical neuropsychology fellowship. Applications for those are due in mid-December.
  • Rogers Behavioral Health Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Fellows within the Rogers Health System, which has six sites in the state, focus on either OCD and anxiety or children and adolescents. Applications are due in January for the yearlong program, which provides a $40,000 stipend.
  • University Hospital Health Psychology Post-Doctoral FellowshipRecent doctoral grads can get their 2,000 hours working with adult patients at UW Hospitals and Clinics. The two fellows spend 20% of their time at either UW Health at The American Center or UW Carbone Cancer Center. Psy.D. or Ph.D. grads with an interest in health psychology should apply before January. The $50,000 stipend comes with leave days.
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Psychology InternshipBefore moving on to a postdoctoral fellowship, psych grads can participate in UW–Madison’s internship program. Each week, interns put in five hours of supervised clinical work, a day of elective activities, a half-day of seminars, and a half-day of research and professional development. That’s in addition to time spent in one of three tracks: adult, child, or pediatric psychology. Full-time interns receive a $25,350 stipend plus three weeks of vacation.

Wisconsin Psychology Resources

Here are five associations and organizations you’ll want to be aware of as you seek out mentors, scholarships, fellowships, and knowledge in your chosen field of psychology:

  • Midwestern Psychological AssociationThe American Psychological Association’s regional body, MPA organizes an annual meeting for academics to share research. It also runs a jobs page spanning the region.
  • Wisconsin Association for Marriage and Family TherapyWAMFT offers continuing education credits and networking opportunities to marriage and family therapists while representing them in legislative advocacy.
  • Wisconsin Psychological AssociationThe state affiliate of the American Psychological Association, WPA maintains a career center for finding jobs. Its member directory can help students reach out to experts in their specialty.
  • Wisconsin Psychology Examining BoardAs part of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the Psychology Examining Board is charged with overseeing the licensure process for psychologists in the state.
  • Wisconsin School Psychologists Association: Membership in WSPA comes with opportunities for training and professional development. The school also funds scholarships and lobbies state legislators on issues that affect school psychologists.