FAQs: MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Why should I take the training if my state doesn't have prescriptive authority for psychologists?

There are several reasons why training would be worthwhile. First, it is unlikely state legislatures will award prescriptive authority to psychologists unless there are enough psychologists in the state who have the proper training to justify such a change in scope. Second, about a third of students who take psychopharm training have no desire ever to prescribe; the increased knowledge of drug effects, drug-drug interactions, and medical conditions and drug side effects that can mimic mental disorders more than justifies the training. Third, you may find many of your patients are receiving psychotropic medication from a professional with limited knowledge of those medications. The training greatly enhances your capacity to collaborate with that professional in your patient's best interests.

When is prescriptive authority likely to happen in my state?

No one can answer that question for sure, and it depends a great deal on the efforts of your state association, so we strongly encourage you to contact the leadership of your association with this question. We do know that the number of states pursuing prescriptive authority is increasing.

What is unique about the FDU program?

The FDU program is distinctive in that it is a university-based program available for training in preparation for prescriptive authority that was developed specifically as a distance model. It also is one of only four programs offering a graduate degree upon completion.

The use of a distance format allows you to fit the program to meet your schedule. Except for a one-hour chat each week, you schedule your activities at your convenience. Unlike executive programs, which require giving up a full weekend every 3-4 weeks, the entire FDU coursework can be completed from your home or office.

Finally, there is a strong clinical orientation to the program. Even during coursework you are involved in case conferencing, and each semester you are required to generate a case report intended to integrate material covered that semester.

I'm not much of a computer whiz. How much computer knowledge do I need?

Very little. If you can access the Internet and can open e-mail attachments, you have most of the skills needed to participate. If you are nervous about your computer skills, we will help you through the process. Many of our students do just fine with limited knowledge of computers.

One of the most important ingredients in my graduate training was the support of other students. Will I lose that in an online program?

We have built several elements into this program that contribute to the development of a sense of collegiality. The one weekly scheduled activity is a chat session. Participants develop surprisingly strong bonds through these discussions. Feedback from current students consistently identifies the strength of those bonds as one of the positive aspects of the program.

Does the program offer training in psychopharmacology for children, adolescents, and the elderly? How about people of color?

Yes, there are four courses devoted to the treatment of specific classes of disorders: affective disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, and other disorders. Each of these courses addresses issues of population, whether based on development, physical, or cultural and ethnic diversity. The Other Disorders course includes modules specific to childhood and geriatric disorders.

In addition, you can incorporate issues surrounding the treatment of specific populations into your clinical discussions. Your case reports can focus on whatever population you choose, and your clinical clinical experience can be in whatever setting is most appropriate to your practice.

Does the program comply with the APA model for training in preparation for prescriptive authority? How about state requirements to be licensed to prescribe?

The program has been designated by APA as consistent with the APA model for training in preparation for prescriptive authority, one of only three programs in the country that meets this standard. Graduates of the program are licensed to prescribe in both states where psychologists are permitted to prescribe (New Mexico and Louisiana) as well as the Public Health Service, the Indian Health Service, and the military.

What is the total cost of the program? Please don't leave out anything.

The tuition for each course is $1,620 in 2018-2019, with a $100 reduction fellowship for members of state or provincial psychological associations, or APA Divisions 18 or 55. Tuition for the practicum is $522 per semester for 2018-2019, regardless of the number of cases documented. These amounts are subject to change by the University, and the University will charge additional fees.

If you decide to take the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP) as your qualifying exam, there are fees for that exam set by the APA College of Professional Psychology.

How long does it take to finish the program?

The course work requires 24 months, followed by completion of the qualifying exam. The length of the supervised clinical experience, which is elective and post-degree, will vary depending on your personal circumstances.

How many hours a week is involved?

The course work is based on the assumption that you will spend about 6-10 hours a week on the program. Actual amount of time spent depends on you. Some people are able to do it in 6 hours a week. Students who do not have a strong backgroun in medicine report spending 12-20 hours a week on the program. It’s up to you to decide what you need to meet the requirements of the program. This includes readings, watching videos, chats, exams, and other assignments. Time demands tend to be heavier during the first two semesters, which involve a heavy dose of biology and basic neuroscience.