In Guatemala, as in other Latin American countries, the education of psychologists has a form different from that in the United States. According to Ardila ( 1978, 1982a, 1982b, 1986), the Latin American model is characterized by a five-year program culminating in a general examination and a thesis. The thesis consists of a defense for an investigative report, usually drafted in book form. The academic degree is termed Licenciatura and qualifies the student in general courses (e.g., learning, social psychology, anthropology, statistics), as well as in specialized courses (e.g., psychotherapy, learning disabilities). This is a terminal degree, which allows professional practice in psychology. The Licenciatura degree is not equivalent to a bachelor of arts, but to a master's degree, although there are also some master's and doctoral programs subsequent to this degree.
The Licenciatura degree has been conceived as a general program of study that allows the psychologist to practice in any area of interest: clinical, social, educational, organizational, or industrial. However, the current trend is to provide Licenciatura degrees oriented toward one of these areas, or to offer an intermediate degree (Carrera Técnica), equivalent to a specialized B.A. with two or three years of study, as a first step toward the Licenciatura degree. Hence, one must study three years to receive the intermediate degree (e.g., in special education, psychometrics, speech therapy) and two more years for a Licenciatura degree. Many students work only for the intermediate degree, since it allows them to practice at a professional level (although not as psychologists)