To become a psychologist, a person must first get a basic degree at a university and then go to graduate school . A Master's degree, either MSc (Master of Science) or MA (Master of Arts) allows beginning work, like a school psychologist . A doctorate degree takes a longer time because it includes doing research and writing a detailed report called a dissertation or thesis . The doctoral graduate uses the initials PhD or DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) after his or her name. Some clinical psychologists earn a Doctor of Psychology degree and use the initials PsyD after their name. The American Psychological Association says that people need a PhD (or PsyD and a current state license in the .) in order to call themselves a 'psychologist'.