Doctor of Psychology 3 Year Programs

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What is a 3 Year PsyD program?

Earning a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) could open doors to a variety of clinical practice careers. However, many PsyD programs may take 4 to 6 years to complete—which is a significant time commitment. Fortunately, some schools are now offering accelerated 3 year PsyD programs. These programs are designed so that the academic coursework could be completed in 3 years. Attendance is full-time and often include summer terms. Students typically complete a one-year postdoctoral internship the following year.

Although the 3 year PsyD program is streamlined, it is often no less comprehensive than longer programs. You may get the same education and acquire the competencies you need to become a licensed psychologist. You could also find hybrid online programs, which might mean you take classes online and get hands on experience in the field.

3 year PsyD programs may also include practicums—clinical experience. And they often require students to write a dissertation based on this experience, just as in longer programs.

What is the difference between a PsyD and PhD?

For the most part, to become a psychologist you need a doctoral degree. There are two common doctoral programs in the field of psychology: Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Although there is some overlap between these two degrees, there may also be some basic differences. Understanding these differences could help you decide which degree might best match your career goals.


  • Geared toward students who are interested in conducting research or working in academia
  • Coursework focuses on research methods, statistics, and data analysis
  • Programs typically take 5 to 8 years to complete
  • Career path options may include scientific researcher, educator at the postsecondary level, program director, licensed psychologist


  • A relatively new type of degree (1970s) designed for students who are primarily interested in a clinical psychology program
  • Coursework focuses on intervention and treatment methods
  • Programs typically take 4 to 6 years to complete
  • Career path options could include licensed clinical, counseling, or school psychologist; or private practice

Is it worth getting a PsyD?

If you are interested in working in a clinical setting, you may find that earning a PsyD is an excellent option. Why?
  • Focus: The PsyD often specifically focuses on clinical training.
  • Practical experience: Practicums and other fieldwork may involve developing skills that relate directly to clinical work
  • Length of time: PsyD programs often take less time than PhD programs
  • Cost: Because they could completed in less time, PsyD programs may cost less than PhD programs
  • Job opportunities: Although you may be able to find an entry level position with a master’s or post master’s certificate, many employers may seek candidates who have a doctorate

Admission Requirements for a 3 Year PsyD Program

Schools vary somewhat in their admission requirements, but the following are common items you might need to submit with your application.
  • Letters of recommendation (sometimes two or more)
  • General GRE scores (some may ask for GRE Psychology Subject test scores as well)
  • Master’s degree documentation or transcripts (current unofficial if still attending elsewhere)
  • Essay responses
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Interview with faculty member(s)

Make sure you are clear about a school’s requirements before submitting an application. It helps to keep your documents all in one place so you could easily locate them when applying to more than one school. If you still do not have a master’s degree, you may be interested in combined Master’s and PsyD programs.

Courses for a 3 Year PsyD Program

Courses in a PsyD program may have a heavy focus on clinical work. You may also encounter coursework that addresses research methods, but such classes are often at an introductory level.

Some schools may offer specific programs in clinical psychology or school psychology, while others may offer both types of programs.

Even though 3 year PsyD programs often compresses academic work into three years, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get any hands on experience. Many programs may include supervised practicums or other fieldwork as early as the first year of study.

You might also need to complete a research paper, or dissertation within the 3 years. Dissertations are often based on research of clinical nature, including testing, evaluating, and formulating solutions with actual patients.

PysD programs typically have core courses that are required to complete the degree. You may then get to choose from elective courses based on your area of interest. Some schools may have areas of emphasis that will guide you in your selections (for example, Child or Forensic Psychology).

PsyD Sample Classes

Following are sample core classes from three universities with 3 year PsyD programs: Wright State UniversityJames Madison University, and the University of Denver.

  • Psychopathology: Students may learn about the psychological disorders in the DSM-IV (the accepted classification system for disorders) of both children and adults. They often review evidence based treatment and treatment as well as multicultural and ethical issues.
  • Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: Students may explore two main types of therapy, behavioral and cognitive. They often examine the theory and methodology behind each as well as clinical applications.
  • Couple and Family Systems: This course often focuses on the dynamics of relationships—both couples and families. Students may study mate selection, marriage, divorce, and child-rearing. They may also examine the effects of individual behavior on the family system as a whole.
  • Processes of Psychotherapy: Students may explore major theories of counseling. They often evaluate the strengths and weakness of each based on current research.
  • Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology: This seminar aims to focus on theories of child development and pathology. Students may review studies about the development of childhood depression, anxiety, and resilience. They may also focus on psychological assessment and classification.
  • Ethical Issues in Psychology: Students often take an in depth look at ethical issues in psychology and professional practice. They may learn about legal standards and relevant laws that govern the practice of psychology.

APA Accreditation for PsyD Programs

Accreditation is recognition by an outside body that a college or university provides a quality education. You could check to see whether a school is accredited on the U.S. Department of Education website. You may also be interested in our article: APA accredited PsyD programs

Accreditation isn’t limited to schools, however. In some cases, specific programs of study within a school are accredited. This is known as specialized or programmatic accreditation.

Doctoral psychology programs may fall under this category. The outside accrediting agency is the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA accredits clinical, counseling, and school psychology programs, as well as some doctoral internships.

Why is APA accreditation important? Aside from the quality assurance aspect, there are two other important reasons.

First, you may have a wider range of coursework, particularly within the federal government or institutions that receive federal funding. Many employers may also look for accreditation when assessing potential job candidates.

Second, some states may require APA accreditation for licensure in that state. You could find a list of these states on the APA website.

Salary and Job Outlook

Earning a PsyD degree could lead to pursuing a number of careers. Some of the more common careers may be clinical psychologist, school psychologist, and counseling psychologist. Some PsyD programs may allow you to concentrate in related fields such as forensic psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology.

Below you’ll find information about four common career paths.

Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
  • What they do: Assess and diagnose mental health disorders through testing and observation; develop and implement treatment plans, which may include medication
  • Median annual salary in 2022 per O*NET: $90,130
  • Job growth projection, 2022–2032: 9% (as fast as average)
  • Typical entry-level education per BLS: Doctorate
School psychologist
  • What they do: Counsel students with behavioral issues or learning disabilities; design and implement performance plans
  • Median annual salary in 2022 per O*NET: $81,500
  • Job growth projection, 2022–2032, 3–4% (as fast as average)
  • Typical entry-level education: Post-master’s certificate
Clinical Neuropsychologist
  • What they do: Assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with traumatic brain injuries or disorders of the nervous system (e.g., seizures, Parkinson’s, learning disabilities, dementia)
  • Median annual salary in 2022 per BLS: $106,420
  • Job growth projection, 2022–2032: 5–8% (slower than average)
  • Typical entry-level education: Doctorate

Schools with 3-Year PsyD Programs

Institution NamePsyD ProgramsOther Psychology Degree ProgramsAverage Graduate Tuition for Academic Year (Excludes Fees)Acceptance Rate
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at ChicagoClinical Psychology   School PsychologyPost Master’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis PhD in Organizational Leadership PhD in Business Psychology, Consulting Track PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis, Credentialing Track PhD in Business Psychology: I/O Track  $22,21234%
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los AngelesClinical Psychology   Marital and Family Therapy   Clinical Forensic Psychology   Applied Clinical PsychologyPost Master’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis PhD in Organizational Leadership PhD in Business Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Track PhD in Business Psychology, Consulting Track PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis, Credential Track PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis    $22,21234%
Nova Southeastern UniversityClinical Psychology   School PsychologyPhD in Clinical Psychology$20,61878%
Pacific UniversityClinical PsychologyPhD in Clinical Psychology$35,04785%
University of DenverClinical PsychologyPhD in Affective / Social / Cognitive Psychology   PhD in Clinical Psychology (Child Emphasis)   PhD in Developmental Psychology  $52,596  56%
Wright State University-Main CampusClinical PsychologyPhD in Human Factors/Industrial Psychology$14,298 (in state) $24,286 (out of state)95%
George Washington UniversityClinical PsychologyPhD in Applied Social Psychology   PhD in Clinical Psychology   PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience$31,77042%
Florida Institute of TechnologyClinical PsychologyPhD in Applied Behavior Analysis   PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology$22,33865%
Roosevelt UniversityClinical Psychology$21,27565%
Ponce Health Sciences UniversityClinical Psychology$34,840NA
Regent UniversityClinical PsychologyPhD in Counseling and Clinical Studies   PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision$15,55282%
Fuller Theological SeminaryClinical PsychologyPhD in Clinical Psychology   Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT)$20,880NA
Mercer UniversityClinical Psychology$14,96472%
Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main CampusClinical PsychologyPhD in School Psychology    $9,288 (in state) $13,932 (out of state)93%
Duquesne UniversitySchool PsychologyPhD in School Psychology   PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision  $24,04872%
California Institute of Integral StudiesClinical PsychologyPhD in Integral and Transpersonal Psychology    $21,708NA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Washington DCClinical PsychologyPost Master’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis PhD in Organizational Leadership PhD in International Psychology, Organizations & Systems Concentration PhD in International Psychology PhD in International Psychology, Trauma Services Concentration PhD in Business Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Track PhD in Business Psychology, Consulting Track PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis PhD Applied Behavior Analysis, Credentialing Track  $22,21234%
James Madison UniversityCombined-Integrated Clinical and School PsychologyPhD in Counseling and Supervision$10,848 (in state) $27,888 (out of state)71%
Meridian UniversityClinical PsychologyPhD in Psychology$21,632  NA
Saybrook UniversityClinical PsychologyPhD in Clinical Psychology$20,856  NA
SUNY at AlbanySchool PsychologyPhD in Clinical Psychology   PhD in Cognitive Psychology   PhD in Counseling Psychology   PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology   PhD in Social and Personality Psychology$11,310 (in state) $23,100 (out of state)52%