Neuropsychologist

The field of neuroscience is often described as a constant discovery of how little is actually known about the brain. Over $4.5 billion is spent each year by the National Institute of Health on research to learn about the roughly three pounds of grey tissue found in the human skull. In 2018, scientists discovered that the brain may be magnetic. They also found a new kind of neuron; possible bacteria living in the brain; and that old brains still make new cells. Much of this research is being done by neuropsychologists.

Neuropsychology is a field within the discipline of clinical psychology. Professionals in this specialty engage in work related to the human brain and cognition. They can work directly with patients assessing and treating disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, and learning disabilities. Other professionals work in clinical research studying brain plasticity, how memories are made, what happens during language acquisition, and potential treatments for neurological disorders.

Becoming a neuropsychologist takes at least 10 to 15 years of education and training after high school. Board licensing requires professionals to have completed a PhD or PsyD and at least two years worth of internship hours. Programs are available across the country and there is one hybrid program that affords students the flexibility of online courses and some in person seminars and practicums.

Keep reading for an overview of what it takes to be a neuropsychologist, including profiles on top schools, job duties, earnings estimates, and the steps needed to enter this profession.

Neuropsychologist Specializations & Degree Types

In order to be licensed, neuropsychologists are required to complete a PhD or a PsyD (doctor of psychology). Students can choose to complete a doctoral degree in psychology but it is recommended to complete a program specifically in neuropsychology or at least one with a neuropsychology concentration. Specializations in this field include clinical, forensic, cognitive, and pediatric neuropsychology.

Admissions Requirements for Neuropsychologist Programs

Programs for neuropsychology require at least the completion of a bachelor’s degree prior to admissions. Students should complete a bachelor of science and ensure they have required prerequisite courses completed for their chosen program. Those courses often include anatomy, biology, neurobiology, math, psychology, and chemistry.

Neuropsychologist Program Accreditation

Programs for neuropsychology are accredited by the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA). The APA-CoA is recognized as an accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Students should endeavor to attend an accredited institution because it indicates a high standard of education. Furthermore, attending an accredited program is a requirement to be a licensed neuropsychologist through the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN).

On-Campus Neuropsychologist Degree Programs

Texas A&M University – College of Liberal Arts

Students who wish to pursue a career in academic scholarship in neuropsychology can find what they are looking for in the cognitive and neuroscience PhD program at Texas A&M University.

With access to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and electroencephalography (EEG), students and faculty are producing groundbreaking research. Currently, research conducted on campus is examining how people learn, how they make memories, and how those findings work in real world settings.

With a low two-to-one student to faculty ratio, students can expect to engage in research from their first year. Weekly interdisciplinary seminars and yearly conferences allow students the opportunity to network, learn from colleagues, and share the work they have been developing. Admission requirements include GRE scores, a personal statement, undergraduate transcripts, and two reference letters.

  • Location: College Station, TX
  • Duration: Four to seven years
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA)
  • Tuition: $1,220.15 per credit-hour

University of Utah – College of Social & Behavioral Science

The PhD program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah features four concentrations, including one in cognition and neuroscience. This allows students to have a home base but also be able to work with other concentrations to further research or explore other fields. The main area of focus of the cognition and neuroscience concentration is in merging brain and cognitive science with real world applications.

This program utilizes a mentorship model and students join ongoing research within their first year of studies. Students receive training for a career in both private industry and academia, and are encouraged to present their research at national and international conferences to receive exposure and recognition. Admission requirements include a statement of purpose, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Duration: Five to six years
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA)
  • Tuition: $959.12 per credit-hour

University of Oregon – College of Arts & Sciences

The goal of the doctorate psychology program at the University of Oregon is to teach students the methods and theories of psychology so that they can then go on to produce original research in the field. The cognitive and neuroscience concentration continues that tradition with research in long and short term memory, language processing, executive control, and brain plasticity.

State-of-the-art facilities set this program apart. Labs are located across campus for a variety of disciplines including the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging, which houses three MRI scanners for ongoing research. Prospective students are required to submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, an extensive (and specific) statement of purpose, a writing sample, a current CV, and all undergraduate transcripts to be considered for admission.

  • Location: Eugene, OR
  • Duration: Four to seven years
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA)
  • Tuition: $29,091 per year

Online or Hybrid Neuropsychologist Degree Programs

Fielding Graduate University School of Psychology

The hybrid clinical psychology PhD program at Field Graduate University is unique as the APA prohibits programs that are primarily online learning. With a combination of in-person seminars, online coursework, and faculty mentorship, this program allows students from diverse backgrounds to complete a doctorate degree with the utmost flexibility.

Students in this program develop doctoral-level knowledge in both the theoretical and practical areas of psychology. Applicants to this program must reside in the contiguous 48 states or Canada as there are strict requirements to attend professional development seminars and practicums. In order to be considered for admission students are required to submit their online application along with a current CV, a statement of purpose, a critical thinking writing sample, and official transcripts. GRE scores are not required.

  • Location: Santa Barbara, CA
  • Duration: Five to six years
  • Accreditation: American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA)
  • Tuition: $9,700 per term

How Long Does it Take to Become a Neuropsychologist?

It takes between 10 to 18 years of education and training after high school to become an ABCN board certified licensed neuropsychologist. This timeline varies based on the PhD program chosen and the state internship hour requirements.

How To Become a Neuropsychologist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from high school or obtain a GED (four years).

Most undergraduate institutions require students to have completed high school or obtained a GED for admission. Students can complete college credits in high school by taking AP or IB classes and scoring well on the tests. In order to be prepared for further studies, high school students should take courses in psychology, biology, math, and chemistry.

Step 2: Complete a bachelor’s degree program (four years).

Prior to graduate school, students will need to complete an undergraduate degree. Most neuropsychology programs require students to have completed a bachelor of science (BS). The most popular major for professionals in this field includes psychology, neuropsychology, pre-medicine, or biology.

Step 3: Obtain a PhD or PsyD from an APA-accredited school in psychology or neuropsychology (four to seven years).

A doctoral degree is required to pursue a career in neuropsychology. Students can typically choose an academic or clinical path. Depending on the field of research it can take between four to seven years to complete the program.

Step 4: Complete internship hours (two to five years).

Internship hours are required in most states and can vary from 1,500 on the low end up to 6,000 on the high end.

Step 5: Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology or EPPP (timelines vary).

All states require professionals to pass the EPPP for licensure.

Step 6: Pass state jurisprudence licensing exam, if required (timelines vary).

Many states require professionals to pass an exam on state and federal regulations prior to being licensed.

Step 7: Apply for your state license (timelines vary).

Applicants will submit all their supporting documentation and test scores directly to their state board.

Step 8: Complete the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) credential review (timelines vary).

The ABCN has specific credential requirements in order to be a board-certified neuropsychologist. Documentation is submitted directly to the ABCN.

Step 9: Pass the ABCN written examination (timelines vary).

Once the ABCN verifies a candidate has the necessary credentials they can then sit for the ABCN written exam.

Step 10: Submit writing samples to the ABCN.

Upon passing the written examination candidates must submit to original clinical reports for review.

Step 11: Pass the ABCN oral exam.

Twice a year, the ABCN holds oral examinations for board certification. These exams have three parts: a practice session, an ethics and professional exam, and a fact finding examination.

Step 12: Receive ABCN license.

Upon successful board review of credentials and the oral examination, the ABCN will award certification and the candidate is invited to join the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN).

What Do Neuropsychologists Do?

Typical work settings for neuropsychologist include universities, research labs, hospitals, mental health clinics, and pharmaceutical companies. Work duties can include:

  • Administering neurological tests to patients
  • Using test results to determine if a patient is suffering from neurological impairment
  • Recommending a course of treatment for patients with neurological impairments
  • Conducting clinical research on memory, brain function, language acquisition, and more
  • Testifying in court cases based on their assessments, findings, or research.
  • Working with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for neurological disorders

Neuropsychologist Certifications & Licensure

All states require neuropsychologists to be licensed. Some states require additional certification and licensing to practice as a neuropsychologist. Requirements vary from state to state and are set by the state’s own licensing board.

Neuropsychologist board certification is obtained through the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN) and is completed through a rigorous credential review and testing process.

How Much Do Neuropsychologists Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have salary information about this career. However, according to PayScale (2020), neuropsychologists can expect to make an average of $91,491 per year. The top 90 percent of earners make $126,000 or more per year, while the bottom 10 percent earn $61,000 or less per year.

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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