Schools with Psychopharmacology Programs: How to Choose

Master's degree programs in psychopharmacology prepare practicing psychologists with education and experience in pharmacology and qualify them for prescriptive authority in states that have it. Psychologists practicing in states where they don't have prescriptive authority can still benefit from the knowledge, because the use of psychotropic medications is widespread.

Since the first program began in 1998, there are still only a handful of universities that offer postdoctoral master's degree programs in psychopharmacology. These programs are designed to prepare psychologists for the American Psychological Association's Psychopharmacology Exam for Psychologists, which allows them to be eligible for prescriptive authority in certain states.

Schools with Psychopharmacology Programs

Here's a list of schools with relevant programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Fairleigh Dickinson University Teaneck, New Jersey 4-year, Private Master's $21,366
Alliant International University - San Diego San Diego, California 4-year, Private Master's $22,021
University of Hawaii at Hilo Hilo, Hawaii 4-year, Public Master's In-state $10,728
Out-of-state $24,576

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Important considerations when choosing a psychopharmacology school:

  • Since practical experience is very important, students may opt to enroll in a program that includes participation in a significant amount of supervised training with a qualified mentor.
  • Applicants may choose to complete classes through distance learning coursework and discussion sessions.
  • Curricula are very specific in focus.

Master of Science in Psychopharmacology

The Master of Science in Psychopharmacology is a postdoctoral degree program designed to prepare psychologists to integrate their training with a pharmacological approach to patient treatment. Candidates learn drug identification and how to design a mental health regimen with prescription medications. The program combines the studies of biopsychology, pharmacology and medicine.

Course topics include addictions, nutritional information and legal issues related to psychopharmacology. The program can typically be completed in 1-2 years, depending on the degree of participation. A clinical practicum is required. Coursework generally includes:

  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Fundamental psychopharmacology
  • Developmental pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology

When exploring psychopharmacology programs, students should ensure that there are experiential learning components and that the coursework aligns with their interests and career targets.

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