Hypnosis Degrees: What You Need To Know

Hypnosis Degrees: What You Need To Know

Graduate StudentThere are lots of people in the industry who claim masters degrees or even Ph.D.s in hypnotherapy. What gives? Are these legitimate credentials?

In order to figure this out, we’ve got to explore a bit about what the following terms mean…

Accreditation, Certification, Registration, Licensing, Diplomas, Degrees

Many people get various forms of credentialing mixed up. I don’t blame them–it’s confusing. You may think a licensed school is the same as an accredited school. Or that getting a diploma is the same as getting a license. You might believe that getting certified in hypnosis or hypnotherapy means some sort of governmental stamp of approval and right to practice. No, to all  of those. Let’s look at accreditation first.

Regional Accreditation

Accreditation can take several forms with the highest form in the United States being regional accreditation. Your state colleges, community colleges, elementary schools etc. are typically regionally accredited. Regionally accredited higher education schools are often academic, non-profit institutions but for-profit schools can become regionally accredited too..

Find me a hypnotherapy degree from a regionally accredited institution. Can’t? Maybe there aren’t any!

So, when someone tells you they have a degree in hypnotherapy, the first question to ask is where they got their degree. Second, ask who accredits that institution. Is it a regional accrediting agency? If not, you probably shouldn’t be equating that with a degree earned at a state school (University of Washington, for instance).


The problem is, many people with credentials in hypnosis present their degrees as of they are the same as degrees from regionally accredited schools. That seems disingenuous to me. Either that or they don’t know the difference themselves.

I know one person who has a Masters in metaphysical studies (or something like that). When I looked into that school, I found what I would consider smoke and mirrors. On the “university” web site I found all sorts of references to organizations, including the United Nations! Nothing solid about accreditation that I could find. And the country in which it was located is famous for diploma mills.

I’d guess she thinks she has a legitimate degree–but I don’t think she does. And she has the title Ph.D. on all her books, promo material etc. I think one day that may come back to haunt her.

Now, the argument could be made that since there aren’t programs available at the regionally accredited schools, you have to go elsewhere. I think that’s a valid point, as long as you’re up front with people about where you got your degree and who accredits that institution.

Other Forms Of Accreditation

For-profit vocational and trade schools often have national accreditation. I used to teach at a nationally accredited vocational school. I was there when they went through the process of applying for regional accreditation.

We went through a long and arduous process designed to get us to meet regional standards. That’s how I know a lot of what I know about accreditation and what it means.

National accreditation is not considered the same as regional accreditation. Unless you consider a diploma from M.I.T. to be equivalent to a diploma from The Truck Driver Training Institute.

There are religious educational institutions that have theological accreditation. They are accredited by an organization that accredits religious schools. Again, they don’t need to meet the same standards as regionally accredited schools.

I know some folks in the biz with Ph.Ds (Doctor of Divinity) from theological institutes too.


Don’t compare a degree from a regionally accredited institution with one from a nationally accredited or theological institution.

Licensure Vs Accreditation Vs Licensure

A school may be licensed to operate (in a particular state for instance) and still be unaccredited. And just because a school is licensed to operate, doesn’t mean they grant you a license to practice once you graduate.

Look at it this way. Just because you graduate from Harvard Law School doesn’t mean you can practice law. You still have to pass the bar.

With hypnosis, in most places, you’re not required to pass a test or be licensed in order to practice hypnosis. Or certified, for that matter. So, a state licensed school means they meet the rules the state lays down for operating a school.

Certification In Hypnosis

In our industry, certification is often handled through hypnosis industry organizations, schools or even individuals. There aren’t any industry -wide standards for certification. Most local governments do not require you to be certified in order to practice. Certification is typically not recognized by any official government organization–it’s not a right to practice.

Some areas require you to register. Registration is typically not a credential–it just means you’re on file.

Is A Non-Regionally Accredited Degree Bogus?

Not necessarily. There are many reasons a school may choose to forgo accreditation. And just because a school is unaccredited doesn’t mean they have a low quality program. What chaps my hide though is when people present their qualifications as if they’re the same as those from regionally accredited institutions.

It may even be illegal! In some states, it’s against the law to advertise an advanced degree unless it’s from an accredited school.

There’s one guy locally who claims a Ph.D. and if you press him, he’ll tell you where he got it. His Masters is from an unaccredited school and his PhD is from a nationally accredited school. That accrediting agency seems to oversee a lot of massage and dental assistant schools. That’s different than what most people think of when they hear about a doctorate degree. I think people should know that, don’t you?

I will say this…

In the field of education, when people talk about accredited degrees, they often mean regionally accredited degrees. And they may view those degrees as the only valid degrees.


  • To my knowledge, there are no regionally accredited hypnosis degrees.
  • Certification in hypnosis is handled by professional organizations, companies or individuals. Typically the certification has no legal standing.
  • Most states don’t require much, if any education to practice hypnosis.

What To Do?

  1.  If you claim a degree, inform people where you got the degree and who accredits them, if anyone.
  2. If you run across someone who claims a degree in hypnotherapy, ask them where they got it and who accredits them.
  3. If you’re considering a degree program in hypnosis, recognize that it may not be thought of as a legitimate degree by some.


PS: Personally, after years of looking for what I thought might be a legitimate degree, and after teaching at a nationally accredited vocational school, I came to the following conclusions.

  • It’s better to know what you’re doing than to have a degree.
  • College programs for psychology don’t have much to offer a hypnotist or NLPer. We operate on different assumptions than most of mainstream psychology does. It’s my belief that they’re healthier assumptions that more effectively lead to healing for people.
  • I haven’t seen any hypnosis degrees I’d feel comfortable touting as a credential.

PPS: There are, of course, hypnotists who have legitimate doctorates in other fields that call themselves doctor. Of course, they should let you know what field!

PPPS: FYI, I have a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in sociology and psychology, from Regents College (Of the University of the Sate of New York – now Excelsior College). It’s regionally accredited. Cum Laude (with honors), if you must know. While there were snippets in my studies of both psychology and sociology that I find useful for NLP and hypnosis, in the main, I’d say the degree has not been of much practical use for me in this field. I believe I have gotten much more value from studying hypnosis and NLP directly and would have been fine skipping the degree.



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Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997. Read More....

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