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Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology (MSCP)

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Explore the MS Program in Clinical Psychopharmacology at NMSU Online

The master’s in clinical psychopharmacology program, housed in the College of Education, is the only post-doctoral program the university offers.

A master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology allows licensed psychologists to make psychotropic medication recommendations, enhance consultation, improve integrated primary care and interdisciplinary collaboration, and safely prescribe medications as defined by state law.

The MSCP degree program is ready to meet the needs of employed licensed psychologists who can attend training sessions both online and in person. Training sessions take place on weekends periodically during the two-year curriculum. Students must also complete intensive supervised clinical fieldwork and a capstone examination as additional clinical psychopharmacology degree requirements.

MSCP Program Applications & Prerequisites

The application period for 2019-2021 is closed. The program will reopen to future applications in Spring 2021: Feb. 1 through June 30, 2021.

The NMSU Graduate School admits qualified students into the post-doctoral MSCP degree program every two years, with new students beginning the program in odd years. Prospective clinical psychopharmacology degree applicants are required to complete the MSCP degree program pre-screening process.

The post-doctoral MSCP degree program prerequisites include the following:

  • A doctoral degree in clinical or counseling psychology
  • A current active, unrestricted state license as a psychologist
  • Verification of good standing from that state’s Board of Psychology, including licensed professional practice with no ethical violations
  • Potential students must practice before and throughout the program as a “Health Services Provider (Psychologist),” as defined by the state law, where applicable, or as defined by the APA.
  • For international students, NMSU adheres to the standards of practice and licensure of the host country.


Scholarships and Financial Aid

NMSU Online offers a very cost-effective tuition per credit hour. Graduate students seeking a master’s in clinical psychopharmacology are eligible for various awards, assistantships and fellowships. Students are encouraged to contact their department to get more information about funding opportunities. Learn more about financing your graduate education.

Students in the MSCP degree program are also eligible for several endowed scholarships, including the following. Many MSCP students also receive significant outside scholarships.

  • The American Psychological Foundation Walter Katkovsky Scholarships support early career postdoctoral licensed psychologists in clinical or counseling to complete training in a psychopharmacology degree program designated by the APA. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply.
  • The American Psychological Foundation Beth N. Rom-Rymer Scholarship supports graduate students and practicing, licensed psychologists to complete courses that are recommended under the APA Model Curriculum of Didactic Training in Clinical Psychopharmacology. Learn more about eligibility and applications.
  • The Dr. Timothy Fjordbak Endowed Scholarship. For more information and how to apply, click here.


Degree type: Master of Science (MS)

College: Education

Department: Department of Counseling & Educational Psychology

Delivery formats: Hybrid (online and in-person classes)  

Program length: Three years, full-time

Designated by: American Psychological Association

Cost per credit hour:  

  • Graduate online: $444.40*† 
  • Active Military online: $250*† 

*For NMSU Online programs and courses, the per credit hour cost is listed above. Special tuition agreements (Western Undergraduate Exchange, Descubre, etc.) are not applicable to NMSU Online programs. Course fees still apply and are charged separately. Textbooks, uniforms, equipment, etc., are additional program costs. Additional per credit costs might be charged by the program, department or college.

†For on-campus students, find tuition and fees here.

Program Highlights

The post-doctoral MSCP degree program offers a strong curriculum and hands-on, experiential training in neurosciences, pathophysiology, physical assessment and cultural diversity, and provides preparation for the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP). Graduates in the MSCP degree program have a high passing rate for PEP.

Expert Faculty

Students benefit from interdisciplinary faculty expertise. Our program has the only full-time training director in the country who is also a prescribing psychologist.

Fits Your Schedule

The MSCP degree program is a hybrid format, offering online and in-person classes with flexible class schedules and outside self-paced learning. Live instruction is offered in Las Cruces, NM, where the master’s in clinical psychopharmacology degree program is based. Students also can participate in live classes from their home computers and review archived classes through learning management systems. All instruction is provided on the weekends. Over the course of didactic clinical psychologist training, students are exposed to more than 450 hours of classroom contact.

Hands-On Facilities

Over the years, the MSCP degree program has developed other partners to offer students exemplary hands-on training in pathophysiology and physical assessment. Currently, the clinical psychopharmacology program is partnering with Arrowhead Medical Academy, NMSU School of Nursing and St. Ambrose University for access to simulations labs, mock exam rooms, medical instrumentation and training facilities.  

Gaining Experience

Students must complete supervised clinical fieldwork as part of their clinical psychopharmacology degree requirements, which include direct patient care. Graduates with the NMSU MSCP degree move on to be champions of the prescriptive authority movement for psychologists at the state, regional and national level. MSCP students also complete two supervised clinical experiences:  An 80-hour physical assessment practicum and a 100 client/patient 400-hour practicum. Numerous sites nationwide are available to complete practica. 

Quick Facts

  • The MSCP degree program is nationally recognized and annually earns program designation by the American Psychological Association.
  • NMSU’s MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology degree program has achieved its milestone 10th training iteration / cohort.  

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Clinical Psychopharmacology from NMSU Online?

Graduates typically maintain their main professional roles as health service providers.  However, with a post-doctoral master’s in clinical psychopharmacology degree from NMSU Online, graduates can obtain prescriptive authority and expand their practices.  MSCP graduates may move on to become Chief Medical Officers and hold other positions of leadership or administration in the healthcare and medical fields.

Clinical Psychopharmacology Careers

MSCP degree graduates typically stay in their current positions since students who are accepted to the program must be practicing psychologists.

Some clinical psychopharmacology degree graduates also may choose to move into position with myriad government agencies, offering healthcare services (e.g., Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, USPHS Commission Corps, etc.) Rehabilitation hospitals are another potential employer.

Psychopharmacology career positions for graduates who earn their post-doctoral master’s in clinical psychopharmacology also include serving as school, counseling and clinical psychologists with certificates to practice as prescribing or medical psychologists. The practice types and professional settings for MSCP graduates are vast. 


Psychopharmacology training mannequin

Psychopharmacology program thrives during COVID-19

The clinical psychopharmacology program at New Mexico State University is a unique program with students from across North America and the world, attracting practicing psychologists looking to obtain training and a master’s degree in clinical psychopharmacology.

O'Donnell Hall

Program Structure and Overview

To better meet the individual student’s academic background and professional practice, the post-doctoral MSCP degree Program is offered with a interfusion of live classroom and synchronous online instruction. Live instruction is offered in Las Cruces, NM; where the program is based.

"I really enjoyed my time at NMSU. The instructors and training director really cared about providing high-quality education and training for prescribing psychologists to help the undeserved people of New Mexico. I cannot fully express how grateful I am for the training I received. My preparation allowed me to quickly pass the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists and then move into applying for my conditional prescribing license.”   

Jonathan Leggett, Ph.D., LP, MSCP (2018)

Prescribing Psychologist, Presbyterian Medical Services

Program Curriculum

The curriculum for the master’s in clinical psychopharmacology degree program for practicing psychologists is modeled on the curriculum recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA), first adopted in 1998 from a Blue Ribbon Task Force (comprised of national experts in psychopharmacology including physicians, psychiatrists, Department of Defense Demonstration Project prescribing psychologists, neuroscientists, pharmacists and nurses). 

In addition, our post-doctoral MSCP degree program adheres to all regulations set forth by the New Mexico Board of Psychologist Examiners and the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners. 

The MSCP degree program was further designed in congruence with New Mexico state law for prescribing psychologists. The program’s clinical psychologist training and education program is dynamic and ever-changing with the field. It has been modified according to the 2009 recommended APA revisions and internal controls of quality assurance and self-study. The APA’s ethical code is stressed throughout the MSCP program. 


Core Competencies

Trainees develop psychopharmacologic knowledge and skills in the following APA-designated core clinical competencies:

  • Basic Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Physical Assessment/Vital Signs & Laboratory/Radiological Studies
  • Clinical Medicine/Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology
  • Clinical Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Pharmacological Research Methodology and Drug Evaluation
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues

How to become a prescribing psychologist

Completion of the postdoctoral MSCP degree typically requires:

  • Two years (39 course credit hours) of comprehensive, didactic coursework, followed by 1-2 years of supervised (clinical experience) practica. 
  • However, students are authorized to begin one of the two approved practicums after completion of the pathophysiology and physical examination sequence.  Both requirements must be completed before a student trainee may request to sit for the final capstone examination. 

Psychopharmacology courses, practica and the capstone are essential components of the MSCP program and must be completed before an enrolled student is authorized to apply for graduation.

Top Clinical Psychopharmacology Courses

View all requirements for the MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology degree program in the NMSU Academic Catalog

 Introduction to Psychopharmacology for Psychologists I

This course is an introduction to physiology and an overview of gross and microanatomy, with a focus on gross, micro, and chemical anatomy of the nervous system. By the end of the course, psychologists will have an up-to-date understanding of human psychology, anatomy and neuroanatomy.

 Clinical Psychopharmacology III

This course is an intensive study of the treatment of psychosis from a biopsychosocial model of care. Special consideration is given to: first, second and third generation antipsychotic drugs and their pharmacology and clinical uses; neurological and metabolic disorders associated with antipsychotic use; and appropriate use of antipsychotics in children and the elderly.

 Psychopharmacological Treatment in Special Populations I

The psychopharmacology of several special populations is discussed in detail in this course. Geriatric psychopharmacology includes: geriatric physiology; cardiac, renal, hepatic changes with aging; pharmacokinetics/dynamics in the elderly; cognition enhancers in Alzheimer's and other dementias. Special treatment of personality disorders, eating disorders, the importance of racial, ethnic and gender differences and culturally sensitive practice is presented with applications. Pain management psychopharmacology is overviewed.

Related Programs

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