Combined Masters and Psy.D. Programs

What is a Combined Masters and Psy.D. Program?

Some students may wish to consider combined masters and PsyD programs in psychology. These programs aim to enable students to work towards licensure and professional practice by combining the work needed into a single program rather than separate master’s degree programs and PhD programs.

These are combination programs. That means they merge two degrees into one continuous education plan. This may enable students to complete their education sooner. These programs may use double counting of credit hours in some courses. This often allows the credits to apply to both degree paths. Students may avoid learning the same material in two degrees in this strategy.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) are often the two primary doctoral programs students may need to complete to work as a clinical psychologist. The American Psychological Association (APA) is the overseeing body for these programs. It states a PsyD program enables students to engage in careers that require scientific knowledge of psychology and enable teaching a broad group of people. Most PsyD programs require students to perform some level of research. This often is with a focus on human behavior. Many students may complete a thesis or dissertation as a component of this educational path.

Both a PsyD and a PhD aim to prepare students to work in this area of healthcare. This may include working as a licensed psychologist. Both courses of education aim to prepare students to take state licensing exams. Keep in mind, each state may have specific requirements to take these tests. These tests aim to ensure a student has the basic level of competency necessary to meet the needs of clients.

Most often, all graduate programs like this must have a clear path of study. The school may need to approve the student’s plans to move through the curriculum to achieve the desired combined master’s and PsyD degree.

Many schools may have a PsyD advisory board. This group may provide insight and governance over completing these degree programs. Students may be able to work through these boards to help them create their own educational path of interest within the school’s program.

Is a Dual Degree Program the Same as a Combined Masters and PsyD Programs?

A dual degree program is sometimes called a double degree. In this path, a student studies two areas at the same time. This often allows the student to receive two separate degrees. Often, these degree programs are very different.  A combined masters and PsyD program is a bit different or more focused.

A student may obtain a dual degree at any level. That includes the bachelor’s degree. In this case, the student earns two bachelor degrees at the same time. A combined master and PsyD is a very specific program. It tends to combine the program coursework for both a master’s degree program and a doctoral program. It often focuses just on psychology. This psychology program may have various electives and a range of coursework.

However, they may be the same concept of combining two programs to achieve a specific goal. They may speed up the process of obtaining a degree in a specific field.

Can I get my masters and PsyD at the same time?

Many people who wish become a psychologist may need to complete a doctoral degree. Then, it may be necessary to pass licensure exams in the state. For those who want to fast track, getting a master’s and PsyD program at the same time may sound like an option.

Traditionally, students could complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology as a first step. That takes about 4 years to complete. Then, they may complete a master’s degree in psychology. This step may take an additional 2 to 3 years. After a master’s degree comes a doctoral degree, traditionally. That could take another 4 or more years. That is a long time before getting started in a career. A PsyD program combining a masters and doctoral program may prove a faster option.

Many times, this type of program may require students to spend time in various classes over a period of several years. It may also include clinical experience in some cases. Some programs may include an internship as well. Students may expect to complete a dissertation and support for necessary state licensing.

For those who wish to work in clinical settings where advanced certification is necessary, a masters and PsyD program may help a student achieve that goal.

It may also be important to note that graduate schools may allow for several paths of study. For example, students may be able to enroll in dual degree programs. This may allow a student to earn two degrees at the graduate level. That may include a master’s and a doctoral program, as noted here. It may also allow a student to earn two master’s programs. This may allow a student to gain more education in two diverse areas that interest them. It could also be possible to earn two doctoral degree programs at one time. These types of programs may be more complex. They may also be harder to find because they are much more difficult for some students to complete.

In all of these program options, the student and school must create a plan for achieving the desired outcome. Both programs generally must constitute a meaningful part of each program. For example, some schools require students to complete 60 percent of the total credit hours for each program if it was a standalone program. Some courses may be double counted, though.

How to Apply to Combined Masters and PsyD programs

The first step may be to choose a doctoral program at a school that offers a combined masters and PsyD educational plan. Not all schools do. Ensure they hold proper accreditation to meet your state’s requirements for licensing. The American Phycological Association’s Commission on Accreditation provides accreditation to many programs. This includes PhD and Psy.D programs.  The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) is another body. The Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) is yet another body.

Students may need to have a bachelor’s degree completed to work towards their master’s and PhD programs. The school may wish to see specific information about the degree to ensure it fits with the prerequisites.

Most often, schools may establish specific guidelines for applying for a dual admission program. These vary from one school to the next. Some common requirements may include:

  • Grade point average in previous education
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree in an associated field
  • GRE testing (not all programs require this)
  • ACT and SAT scores may be used by some schools
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Background check may be a requirement for application

Be sure to provide all insight into your qualifications. This may include any work experience obtained or research programs you’ve completed. Volunteer work and paid positions should be noted. Any work done in private practices or nonprofits should be disclosed on an application. Some grad programs like this xould be competitive. That may make all of these extra skills and experiences vital to getting into the program.

Students may also need to choose a field of study early on. Grad programs may be specific to a desired outcome. This may include, for example, developmental psychology, social psychology, forensic psychology, or other areas of mental health.

Eligibility requirements often differ from one program to the next. Students may need to meet overall graduate study requirements. Some graduate students may need to apply with a very specific educational background depending on the grad program itself. All schools make it clear what students need to apply.

What happens after acceptance into a combined M.S. and PsyD program?

Once a student is accepted into the program, they may need to follow a specific plan set by the school to complete both degree requirements. Meeting with a guidance counselor or education planner may be an important step. For example, some students must begin the program at the first year of the curriculum, and that would mean working as 1st year students. This may include clinical placement and coursework. Students who complete the program may be awarded the Master of Science in Psychology (depending on the school’s specific requirements.) Students may need to take exams at the third year of the curriculum after completing additional coursework. Then, they may apply for a doctoral internship. Most often, the fifth year is a full time doctoral internship.

Again, this may vary significantly from one school to the next. Students typically need to complete a dissertation as a part of the process. These programs, which could take 7 years to complete, may require various levels of study including part time and full time education.

Dual Degree vs Double Major 

It may be confusing to note the differences between a dual degree and a double major. Those studying to participate in professional psychology may come across programs using both of these terms. Motivated students may wish to enroll in in two different degree programs that complement each other in some way. It may be worth enrolling in these programs if the program supports the student’s career goals.

Dual master’s degree programs in psychology may come counseling with forensic psychology. Organizational psychology and business administration may also be an option. Some students might complete a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis.

A double major is slightly different. A person earns one degree in this path but does so in two academic disciplines. Students do not take more credit hours to do this. When a student completes a double major, they may be aiming to get a more comprehensive skillset. Double majors for psychology may allow students to study two areas of interest to them.

It is often less common to find a double major in the area of psychology at a master’s degree level. That is because many master’s and doctoral education is highly focused. That means diverse opportunities in the area may be a bit less common. Still, some options exist. Psychology and economics, for example, may work well. Others may include psychology and education or psychology and exercise science.

Methodology differs between schools. This often helps make the field of psychology diverse. Students seeking a doctorate degree with a dual major may find a few options that interest them available, including through online educational paths.

To clarify the differences between a dual degree and a double major, consider the following:

Length of Study

A dual degree program typically includes up five years of student for the master and doctoral program, sometimes longer. A double major, by comparison, typically takes the same amount of time to complete as a single-major degree. That may include two years for both the master’s program and doctoral program. Some doctoral programs are much longer, though. This may mean it takes up to 6 years to complete (for 4 year doctoral programs).

Credit Hours

Schools differ widely here. However, a dual degree program typically requires fewer credit hours for two master’s program than those required by a double major. Many double major programs may require the same number of credits necessary for those completing a single-major degree path.

Requirements for Admission

Again, this often differs by school and the program selected. However, students typically need to meet practicum and capstone requirements for both degrees when completing dual degrees. For a double major, students typically need to complete just the capstone requirements for one major rather than both.

Costs

The cost for either program often ranges based on the program path and type. The dual degree program typically has more credit hour requirements. That means that it may cost more overall. However, because there may often be overlapping classes in these programs, that reduces the costs somewhat. Students may not have to pay to take the same course twice. The double major costs are typically priced at the same level as a single major degree. That means they may pay the same tuition at the school as if they were completing a single major.

Course Results

A student completing a dual degree path may earn two separate degrees. A student who completes a double major may end up with a single degree but has two discipline within that degree. Both programs may prepare students to complete the certification exams.

Common Combined Master’s and PsyD Programs Combined Master’s and PsyD Programs

A combined master’s and PsyD program may be available through in-person and online programs. Those wishing to attend graduate school may find some options available in these programs. A PsyD in Clinical Psychology is one option offered by several schools. It may provide educational content to meet the needs of those who wish to work in clinical practice in a range of areas. Consider some of the options in these programs here.

Appalachian State University

287 Rivers St., Boone, NC 28608

Appalachian State offers a PsyD program that provides both a masters and Doctor of Psychology degree. This is an accredited program. To apply, students need to have taken the GRE within five years and provide three refences. The program requires a minimum GPA in the graduate program in order to continue on to the doctorate program.

Loyola University

4501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210

This is a fully accreted program that offers a Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology. This is a five year program that requires the completion of 131 credit hours and over 1,500 hours of field experience. All applicants must provide official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, essay, and resume.

University of St. Thomas

2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105

The University of St. Thomas offers a Master of Arts in Psychology degree program with direct admission into the PsyD program. This is an accredited program which allows admission directly if the masters program is completed in two years. Students also need three letters of recommendation, completion of the GRE, a resume, and writing sample in order to be eligible for the program.

Widener University

One University Place, Chester PA 19013

Widener University offers a number of joint masters and PsyD programs. These are all accredited and include an MBA and PsyD degree, masters in education  and PsyD, and masters of criminal justice and PsyD. To enter into any of these programs, students need to have at least a bachelors degree, minimum of 3.0 GPA, and official transcripts. A major in psychology is preferred for any of these programs, but not required.

Boston University

233 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215

Boston University offers a fully accredited Masters of Arts in Psychology and Doctorate program. The masters program may be completed in eight courses each worth four credits.  The doctorate program requires the completion of 16 additional courses each at 4 credit hours. Applicants must provide college transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Capella University

One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington DC 20036

Capella University offers an online PsyD program for students to get both a masters and their doctorate in clinical psychology. The program is accredited and requires the completion of 145 credit hours. Students need a minimum of a 3.o GPA to apply. They also need a completed application and have completed the masters program at the school to finish the doctorate.

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • No GMAT or GRE required
  • 91% of psychology alumni are satisfied with their Capella education. (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2019-2020)

California Southern University

3330 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, California 92626

California Southern University offers a PsyD program that is fully accredited. The program takes from four to five years to complete. Students need to have completed a bachelors and masters program with the masters being a major in psychology.

William James College

1 Wells Avenue, Newton, MA 02459

William James College offers a fully online PsyD program. There is an in person residency requirement that takes four days in Boston, MA. The program is accredited and takes approximately four years to complete. The students need to have taken the GRE as well as complete prerequisite courses for the program. Students need to have completed their bachelors and have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.

Saybrook University

55 W Eureka St, Pasadena, CA 91103

Saybrook University offers an online PsyD program. A minimum of 105 credit hours are required for the completion of this accredited program. Students need to have transcripts as well as bachelor’s degree to apply. Students must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA a personal statement, and a contact for recommendation to apply for this program.

Nova Southeastern University

3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

Nove Southeastern University offers a PsyD program in school psychology. The program is accredited and offers the program as a dual degree. Students must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Prerequisite classes need to be completed as well as the GRE and official transcripts submitted.

Fairleigh Dickinson University

1000 River Rd, Teaneck, NJ 07666

Fairleigh Dickinson offers a PsyD program in school psychology. The program is accredited. Students who want to enter the program must submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation and a statement of professional interests. Copies of all transcripts from all previous schooling. This program is designed to be completed in five years.

American University

4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016

The PsyD program at American University is a fully integrated degree program. The program requires the GRE scores to be submitted. Copy of all transcripts and three letters of recommendation are necessary. A statement of purpose and a CV are also needed.

Baylor University

1311 S 5th St, Waco, TX 76706

The PsyD program at Baylor clinical psychology emphasizes clinical experience. In order to get into the program students need at least 12 credits in undergraduate psychology courses. Students also need to have taken the GRE, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of research institutes. Clinical experience is given stronger consideration.

Biola University

13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada CA 90639

The combined PsyD program at Biola University is a five to six year program that allows for the completion of both degrees. Students complete 133 credit hours and need to do either a dissertation or critical review.