Neuropsychologists specialize in the relationship between the brain and behavior. Although some Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology offer a neuropsychology concentration, post-doctoral certificate programs in the field are more common. Learners will explore neurological disorders and cognitive assessment. Admission to Ph.D. programs typically requires a bachelor's degree in or related to psychology, while applicants to post-doctoral certificate programs must already possess - or be working toward - a doctorate in the field. Graduates who have attained sufficient experience might also qualify for a diploma credential from the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Neuropsychology
The neuropsychology concentration allows students to complete all the standard training and requirements for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology; however students choose electives that fit the specialization while also tailoring their independent research to their particular area of interest. Students explore how to analyze behavior based on underlying factors, such as a developing or aging brain, brain damage due to injury, substance abuse or slow development of cognitive functions. Externship opportunities are available, and most programs require a dissertation. Program graduates are prepared to pursue clinical internships and post-doc fellowships within the field.
Common prerequisite coursework includes psychological statistics, cognition, experimentation and social psychology. Program coursework incorporates classroom and seminar coursework with assessment laboratories and clinical practicums. Neuropsychological topics typically include:
- Neurological disorders
- Language development and pathology
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Cognition and affect
- Developmental neuropsychology
Post-Doctoral Certificate in Neuropsychology
A post-doctoral certificate program in neuropsychology provides a combination of clinical, teaching and research opportunities for Ph.D. graduates looking to gain specific knowledge and board certification in clinical neuropsychology. The curriculum features advanced concepts in neuropsychological assessment, treatment and intervention procedures. Students also explore a variety of cognitive disorders, including autism, dementia, brain tumors and epilepsy. This type of program typically requires two years to complete.
Candidates are generally expected to have, or be working on, a Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in clinical psychology or counseling from an approved program. Prior internship experience is also a common requirement for admission. In addition to highly-focused coursework, neuropsychology certificate programs often require a prescribed number of practicum hours. Topics covered include:
- Child neuropsychology
- Adult development and aging
- Intervention techniques
- Cognitive assessment
Popular Career Options
Graduates are prepared for entry-level clinical positions and opportunities within academia. Employment opportunities may include:
- University faculty
- Post-Doc fellow
- Clinical psychologist
Employment and Salary Information
Graduates are prepared to work in private practice, education and public service. In most states, neuropsychologists planning to provide direct patient care are expected to meet state licensing requirements. Although licensing laws vary by state, requirements usually include completion of a doctoral program in clinical or counseling psychology and at least one to two years of professional experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for clinical psychologists were projected to increase by 20% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that, as of May 2015, clinical psychologists earned a median annual salary of $70,580.
The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN), a specialty board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), offers a diploma credential to individuals who have met the appropriate education requirements and demonstrated competency within the field. Requirements include a doctoral degree, three years of experience in neuropsychology, two years of supervised practice in neuropsychology and state licensure for independent practice.
Students interested in the intersection between psychology and neuroscience can consider applying to a Ph.D. program in neuropsychology. Many schools also offer post-doctoral programs in this field, for those who already hold doctoral-level degrees to further advance their careers.