July 30, 2017

Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Clinical psychologists who live in states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications require additional training to qualify for this benefit of service. In addition to completing a doctoral degree in psychology, one will also be required to complete a postdoctoral master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology.

Postdoctoral degrees in clinical psychopharmacology consist of extremely specific and didactic training designed to teach licensed psychologists the information necessary to safely prescribe medications.

These postdoctoral degree programs are rare, which is likely a byproduct of the fact that only two states have passed legislation allowing psychologists to prescribe medications. Because these programs are offered to psychologists who are already licensed practitioners, they favor less traditional paths to learning, such as distance learning.

For example, the program at Fairleigh-Dickinson University consists of videotaped lectures and involves scheduled online discussion groups and chat sessions.The curriculum of the program consists of:

  • Biological Foundations I and II
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Professional Issues and Practice Management
  • Treatment Issues in Psychopharmacology: A Case Study Approach

Following completion of the course work, students must find a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy to supervise them during the clinical practicum component of the education. Students must see one hundred patients under supervision.

After graduation from postdoctoral programs, psychologists are expected to be able to achieve passing scores on the national Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists. This is also required for psychologists to prescribe medication.

While this is not a required component of education to become a psychologist, some individuals may take advantage of the opportunity to broaden the scope of their practices.