Doctorate in Psychology Programs (PsyD)
What are PsyD Programs ?
The Doctor of Psychology, abbreviated ‘PsyD, Psy D, or Psy.D. is an applied, clinically focused doctorate degree somewhat like an MD in medicine. Earning a degree from a PsyD program typically prepares a graduate to fulfill the educational requirements for state licensure; licensure is a requirement for use of the title “psychologist” in many states. Psychologists often study the human brain, cognitive functions, emotional and social behaviors through various techniques and interventions.
If you are searching for a terminal degree program in the field of psychology, you may have options including the PsyD (Doctor of Psychology), the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology, and the Education Specialist degree. While academically similar, there are often differences between these degrees – somewhat like different roads, that prospective doctoral students should clarify before embarking on a doctorate in psychology program. A doctoral degree such as the Ph.D., Psy.D., and Ed.D. earned from an APA-accredited program may translate into eligibility to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology examinations in one’s state.
What is a PhD in Psychology?
The PhD in Psychology is a research doctoral degree in psychology. Earning a PhD Psychology typically prepares graduates to fulfill the educational requirements for state licensure. Those who pursue their PhD in psychology may favor academic research or teaching at the college level over clinical practice.
PsyD Programs vs. Psychology PhD Programs
Many people ask: Is a PsyD better than a PhD? In terms of potentially counseling clients and practicing in a clinical setting, both the PsyD and PhD in Psychology have about equal status. Ultimately, your decision may boil down to whether you prefer to learn in a hands on clinical setting or to conduct research. Students who earn their PsyD may go down the path of psychologist while a PhD may lead more to research based work.
Is a PsyD Holder a Doctor?
It’s important to understand the differences in these programs. A person who holds a doctorate degree is often considered a doctor. That is, they may refer to themselves as “Dr.” when writing their name.
However, a person with a doctorate degree is typically not a medical doctor. They often do not have the ability or skill to provide medical care to a person in any capacity. They cannot diagnose or treat medical conditions even though they may have some basic anatomy and health training.
A person with a PsyD degree is not often able to prescribe medications. State law often determines if a person is able to write prescription medications. Most of the time, a person must be licensed as a psychologist before they may be able to write prescriptions to treat mental health disorders. Even in this case, they are still not medical doctors who treat medical needs of patients.
Anyone that completes their doctoral education may call themselves a doctor as a result of that degree. However, they are not the same as a doctor that would provide medical care in a hospital or medical center. Unless they also obtain a medical degree such as an MD in the U.S. they are not considered equal to medical doctors. That’s an important distinction to know.
7 Potential Admission Requirements for PsyD & PhD Psych Programs
The admission requirements for each psychology school and doctor of psychology program may differ. Some schools may choose candidates that they feel ‘fit’ their schools’ mission in terms of clinical and research experiences. You are always advised to check with the requirements of the specific schools on your list. Potential admission requirements may include:
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college
- Master’s degree in psychology, counseling or a mental health field from an accredited university (in a few cases an undergraduate degree may suffice)
- GPA scores (varies)
- GRE scores (varies)
- Letters of recommendation
- Interviews, statement of purpose
- Fulfilled course prerequisites if applicable
Courses One Might Expect in a PsyD Program
Professional Issues in Clinical Psychology
This course often serves as an introduction to the program. It is designed to show students what is expected and to prepare them for the coursework required to complete the program.
Intervention: Building Effective Relationships
This course is designed to provide students with the ability to build therapeutic relationships. This course aims to teach trust building and examination skills while exploring ethical issues.
Intervention: Diagnostic Interviewing
This course often teaches interviewing techniques for clients. The foundations of trust and relationship building may be covered in this course.
Intervention: Case Formulation
This course typically focuses on formulating case concepts. The course may also covers the topic of understanding a client’s issues and how to identify them.
Intervention: Treatment Planning
This course often uses case studies and role playing to aid students for real world experiences. Ethics as well as developing effective treatment plans may be covered in this course.
Assessment: Adult Cognitive, Achievement, and Adaptive Functioning
This course usually covers administration and interpretation of various tests conducted to determine cognitive abilities. Students may also learn how to administer these tests.
Courses one Might Expect in a Psychology PhD Program
Ethics for Professional Researchers
In this course students may go over the ethics of research practices. Subjects covered often include intellectual property, plagiarism, and conflict of interest.
This course may cover research literature used in learning. This course may also look at theoretical formulations from learning theorists.
Cognition and Information Processing
This course may take a deeper look at aspects of cognition. Students may learn to look beyond sensation and perception.
This course often looks at different points of view regarding analysis of personality. The course may also look at some of the general problems in personality analysis.
Advanced Social Psychology
This course often examines theories and problems associated with social psychology. The course may also examine the psychological development of groups and their dynamics.
Measurement of Behavior
This course may look at the theory and method of human behavior. The course often looks at test construction and the reliability of these tests.
How Long Does it Take To Earn a PhD in Psychology?
Time and program lengths to earn PsyD, Psychology PhD and EdD Psychology Programs may vary between schools. Also, it may depend on whether you pursue your graduate study on a part-time or full-time basis, among other factors.
- Ph.D. Psychology: Ph.D. programs might require at least 5 to 7 years to complete. In addition to regular coursework, you may also be expected to complete an internship or supervised residency. The program typically culminates in completing an original research project or dissertation.
- For a Psy.D. Degree: Most PsyD programs may require between 4 to 6 years to complete. Also, PsyD programs typically require a one year internship as part of the doctoral program, as well as a dissertation based on clinical research.
- For an EdD: Degree: Most EdD programs may require between 3 to 5 years to complete. It is important to note that many applicants to EdD programs may already hold a master's degree in a related field. Meanwhile applicants to Ph.D. and PsyD programs often begin their program of study with a bachelor's degree.
Browse our PsyD categories and find your focus areas:
- PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs: Study the science of human behavior, learn how to apply interventions as a potential intervention for individuals with autism.
- Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programs: Study psychopathology, mental health issued and diagnostic interventions.
- PhD Cognitive Psychology Programs: Study the mind, memory, attention, perception, reasoning and language.
- Doctorate in Community Psychology Programs: Study how individuals relate to their communities and the cultural, economic, social, political, environmental and international influences on behavior.
- Developmental Psychology Doctorate Programs: Study the science of how humans evolve and learn from childhood through their lifespan.
- Doctorate in Forensic Psychology Programs: Study how legal theory, procedures and law intersect with clinical psychiatric diagnosis, clinical issues, practice and ethics.
- Holistic Psychology Programs: Study psychology from an integrative perspective (mind/body/spirit).
- PhD in Industrial Organizational psychology Programs: Study human behavior in the workplace, career development and human performance.
- Doctorate in Social and Personality Psychology Programs: Study human nature and what makes individuals different from one another.
- Doctorate in Sports Psychology Programs: Study sport specific psychological assessment, optimal performance, and counseling techniques for athletes.
Are Online PsyD Programs Available?
Earning a Doctorate in Psychology takes time and many students may be juggling work and family too! If you are wondering how to manage your time – study, research, career, family – an online PsyD might be perfect for you! There may be many online PsyD programs available but it is worth a search to find out if these programs meet your needs. Wondering how a PsyD program may enhance your career? We asked former students that very question!
How has earning a Psy.D. enhanced your career?
How Important is APA Accreditation for Psychology PhD Programs?
Very. Especially if you are aiming for an American Board of Professional Psychology. Why? To attain board certification by the ABPP one of the requirements is that an individual has earned:
“A doctoral degree from a program in professional psychology which at the time the degree was granted was accredited by the APA, CPA, or was listed in the publication Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting Designation Criteria.”
Who is the APA?
The APA Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is recognized as the national accrediting authority for professional education and training in psychology. This recognition is granted from both the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
What is the Scope of APA Accreditation?
The APA accredits doctoral graduate programs in clinical, counseling, school psychology and combination programs, internships, postdoctoral residency programs in traditional and concentration areas of psychology.
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$119,740||470|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$112,450||350|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$110,910||390|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||$107,450||110|
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Schools with PsyD Programs
GradSchools.com offers 292 Schools with PsyD Programs
Loyola University Chicago
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Grand Canyon University
Georgia Southern University
Brigham Young University
University of Pittsburgh
University of Illinois at Chicago
Johns Hopkins University