Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Montana

The Big Sky country may be a kind of heaven for nature lovers and independent-minded folks of all stripes, but that doesn’t mean life here is always stress free. The state tracks pretty closely to the national average when it comes to rates of serious mental illness. Unfortunately, residents have been losing access to easy and affordable treatment for those conditions in recent years. State budget cuts are forcing them to travel further and wait longer for essential psychological services.

With easy access to firearms in this frontier state, that’s been a recipe that has lead to the highest suicide rate in the nation. Now, both individuals and state government officials are looking for solutions to stem the tide. And those solutions are sure to rely heavily on professionally educated psychologists.

The Selection Is Limited, But Standards are High In Montana Universities

It’s Montana, so you basically have the choice of becoming either a Bobcat or a Grizzly when it comes to earning a graduate degree in psychology. This makes online programs at other universities a very popular option here. The rivalry between the two schools, Montana State and University of Montana, is real but mostly vestigial when it comes to psychological sciences. The state is small and the psychology community is tight-knit, so where you decide to attend mostly boils down to whether Bozeman or Missoula are more to your taste.

Earning a License in Montana Requires a Master’s Degree

You can get a license to practice as a school psychologist in Montana with only a master’s degree in the field. If you plan to become a practicing, licensed psychologist outside of education, however, you’ll need to go on to earn a doctoral degree. It’s important to get your master’s through an APA-accredited program, however.

You’ll also need a master’s degree if you plan to becoming licensed as a counselor in Montana, but there are stringent coursework requirements that go along with the requirement, so be sure to check the specific curriculum of your program.

School Psychology Provides Critical Support to Montana Students

School psychologists seem to be almost constant demand in every state. But it can be more exciting in a rugged, rural place like Montana.

Although Montana is susceptible to the same national trends in autism and other developmental disabilities as other states, the educational system is a lot more spread out, making it more difficult to focus resources where they might be needed to help support and integrate students with ASD in mainstream classrooms. But the University of Montana is making strides in improving access to treatment and other support services statewide. As part of the Rural Institute Project, UMT has been running the Montana Autism Center, a program that has drawn in resources in psychology, behavior analysis and other relevant sciences.

As a school psychologist operating with a master’s degree from UMT, you can hit the ground running to address autism and other common problems in Montana schools with an innovative and effective set of tools at your disposal.

Clinical Psychology Faces Particular Challenges in Rural Montana

With sky-high suicide rates and a heavy rate of alcohol consumption, there are a lot of people in Montana who would clearly benefit from some direct, one-to-one clinical psychological treatment.

Getting those services to folks who need them is difficult in a spread-out, rugged state. And there is evidence that isolation, the short hours of daylight in the northern winter months, and even the high altitudes around the state all contribute to depression.

Those are challenges that Montana psychologists face in providing clinical services to residents. Fortunately, they’re getting a hand from the state government, which has recommitted to making mental health funding a priority. Some of those funding dollars are going to be paying the salaries of clinical psychologists, and a master’s degree in the field can set you on a course to become one of them.

Whatever challenges in psychology you decide to take on, you won’t find a prettier place or one more welcoming to practice in than Montana.

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