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 most states. Psychologists 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 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 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 be 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.
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.
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
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 . It may also 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 require between 4 to 6 years to complete. 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 require between 3 to 5 years to complete. It is important to note that many applicants to EdD programs 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 specialty areas:
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 PsychologyPrograms: 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 are 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 are many online PsyD programs available but it is worth a search to find out if these programs meet your needs.
Dr. Nicole Martinez
How has earning a Psy.D. enhanced your career?
With my Psy.D. degree, I see patients, and have worked for groups, at treatment facilities, and now see them on my own. I teach online courses to up and coming masters and doctoral students in psychology. I review case files and write reports or testify on cases about patients’ mental health history and issues. I also write for a number of publications, which brings me great joy in my ability to share useful information to help a broader audience.
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 specialty areas of psychology.
Top 128 Graduate Schools with PsyD and Psychology PhD Programs