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Degrees and Licenses

(Note: based on adapted information from Psychologytoday.com

Consider which type of graduate academic degree and license you would like to pursue. Different types of master and doctoral academic degrees are granted by educational training programs. Licenses to independently practice are granted by governing bodies, such as the state of California.  After earning an academic degree, you’d complete additional hours (sometimes a year or more) of working in the field and also pass exams to pursue a license.

Academic Degrees
  • Ph.D. Doctor of philosophy.
    This academic degree is earned in four to seven years. A Ph.D. in a human services field involves theory, practice, and research skills such as statistical analysis and data gathering. As well as practicing, many Ph.D.s go on to work in academic settings, as full time university professors. Many also find jobs as researchers. Ph.D.s often serve in administrative and leadership roles.
  • Psy.D. Doctor of psychology.
    The Psy.D. is a terminal degree, like a Ph.D. However, the Psy.D. focuses more on therapy and counseling rather than research. The degree was developed in the late 1960s to address the need for practitioners. In the last 30 years, the Psy.D. has become increasingly popular.
  • M.Ed. & Ed.D. Doctor of education.
    Professionals with Ed.Ds may practice therapy just as those with Ph.Ds. Many of these professionals are trained in child development and education, sometimes with a focus on educational planning and assessment. Some work as school superintendents, principals or directors of nonprofit organizations. The M.Ed. is a master's level degree in education that typically takes two years to earn. A total of four years of study is usually necessary to receive an Ed.D.
  • M.A. (or M.S.)
    A master of arts or master of science can be earned in most human services fields, such as counseling or gerontology.  It usually requires two years of post-collegiate study. Many master level programs also require a thesis. This degree allows for part-time teaching at the University level or full time teaching at the community college level. In many fields this degree allows for direct practice after earning an additional license.
  • M.S.W. Master of social work.
    A social worker works with an individual in the context of the wider community. He or she helps those dealing with domestic violence, child abuse, and drug abuse or foster-care issues, among many others. Social workers intervene in settings such as schools, clinics, and government agencies or may occasionally practice therapy independently. The MSW typically requires two to four years of study
  • M.D.
    Psychiatrists are medical doctors, who, after completing medical school, receive an additional four years of clinical training in mental health specialties. Psychiatrists treat emotional and mental disorders and are licensed to prescribe medication. These professionals may treat psychiatric disorders with therapy in conjunction with psychotropic medications.

Professional Licenses

  • L.C.S.W. (Also the A.C.S.W., L.C.S., L.I.C.S.W., C.S.W.)
    The licensed clinical social worker has a graduate academic degree, has completed supervised clinical work experience and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam. This advanced practitioner holds a license that allows him or her to receive health-care insurance reimbursements.
  • L.E.P.
    The licensed educational psychologist has a graduate degree and works in an educational setting to provide testing, counseling, and intervention to promote academic learning.
  • L.M.F.T. (Also the M.F.C.C.)
    The licensed marriage and family therapist has a graduate academic degree (a 2- to 3-year master's degree or a 3- to 5-year doctoral degree), clinical work experience and has passed a state-certified licensing exam. Most states offer this license.
  • L.P.C. (or L.M.H.C., D.A.C., M.F.C.C.)
    Licensed professional counselor or licensed mental health counselor. A licensing qualification is granted to those who have a graduate academic degree, clinical work experience and have passed a state-certified licensing examination.

Note: For information on teaching licenses and credentials –Visit the CSUF Center for Careers in Teaching  

Additional Credentials

  • P.P.S. (Pupil Personnel Services Credential)
    is issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to those who have completed a qualifying master level educational program. This credential is required for those who work in public schools in California and is offered in the following four sub-specialties: School Counseling, School Psychology, School Social Work, and School child welfare/attendance services.
  • A.P.R.N., A.P.N., A.R.N.P.P., or M.H.N.
    Advanced practice registered nurses (A.P.R.N.) have a master's degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. These nurses are eligible to be licensed as therapists. A.P.R.N.s provide a range of primary mental health care services to individuals, families, and groups, and function as psychotherapists, educators, consultants, advanced case managers or administrators. Many states require certification by a national body prior to practicing. Once licensed, A.P.R.N.s are authorized to prescribe medications.
  • A.T.R.
    Registered art therapist. Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy and hold a master's degree in art therapy or a related field. Art therapists work with individuals, couples, families or groups. They often work as part of a team in settings such as community outreach programs, schools, nursing homes, corporations and independent practices.
  • D.Min
    The doctor of ministry is an advanced professional degree for those in the practice of ministry. It differs from a Ph.D. in that its focus is on competence in the practice of ministry rather than on advanced academic research. There are different tracks of study: in Pastoral Ministry, for example, degree candidates must first receive a master of divinity or the equivalent, and have at least three years' experience in full-time pastoral ministry.
  • B.C.D. Board certified diplomat.
    This board certification is granted to practitioners—whether they are social workers, counselors, psychologists, among other mental health professionals. These individuals have demonstrated a high level of competency and experience in their field.

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