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What Factors Affect Practicum Hours?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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For many people pursuing advanced degrees, a practicum experience will be a requirement for graduation. Though these are most common in master's or doctoral degrees, some undergraduate degrees require them as well. As a result, required practicum hours vary widely across schools and academic disciplines. The requirements to earn a doctoral degree, for example, typically require a great deal more practicum hours than a bachelor's degree. The purpose of the practicum may also affect the number of required hours; for some fields it is meant simply to be a supplementary learning experience, like an internship, while for others it is an absolute requirement to get work experience to earn a certificate or professional license.

Each college or university requiring a practicum of its degree candidates will specify the number of practicum hours up front. Students will often be required to pay for the practicum experience if they are earning college credits for it, but most practicums are unpaid for the duration. If pay is received, it is typically quite minimal. The number of practicum hours required of each student can generally vary anywhere from 60 hours up to 2,000 hours. The first represents part-time work over the course of a semester, generally, while the latter is equivalent to to a year of full-time work.

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For doctoral candidates, such as those pursuing a professional degree and license to practice psychology, it is likely that a full year of work, or approximately 1,500 to 2,000 practicum hours will be required. Undergraduate or master's degree students will likely need significantly less, but again, it depends on the course of study and the decision of the university. Not all degrees require a practicum experience, but those that do are usually fairly adamant that the students complete the work as required.

Whether a student is completing a degree program in a traditional educational environment or online is another factor that often affects the practicum hours requirement. Many online degree programs, particularly those that are regionally accredited, and therefore more rigorous for students, will require an additional number of practicum hours to ensure that their graduates have hands-on experience in their chosen field. This will almost certainly be true of master's and doctoral programs offered online, as it is very important to the school that the graduates they produce are competent and capable of being hired, since this will reflect positively on the school and encourage future enrollment.

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