How Long is a Psy.D. Program?

how long is a psyd program

Earning a psychology doctorate degree can help students become professionals and practice with clients, but most students want to know how long it takes to complete a Psy.D. program. These programs typically take a minimum of four years to finish but can take as long as six years to complete. It depends on whether the student enrolls as a full-time or part-time student and the program itself. Most doctoral programs include both classes and some practical work. Also called a Doctor of Psychology, these programs are available from many different schools today.

Related resource: Top 25 Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Degree Programs


Most psychology doctoral programs require that incoming students already have graduate degrees and a few years of experience, which they can get through programs in graduate school. This allows them to skip some of the lower level courses and focus more on advanced classes in psychology. Many of these courses will focus on professional topics such as the ethics that they made need to address when working with clients and issues that arise when working in public settings. Students may need to take two or more classes each semester when working towards a doctoral degree.

Practical Work

A key part of any graduate program is the practical work that students do. In a Doctor of Philosophy program, students may do an internship followed by a residency. This allows them to do some supervised work before working on their own. Most Psy.D. programs include a service learning component instead. Students will do some work in the field but not as much as they would do in another program. They usually have the option of doing their practical work at the same time that they take classes or of taking a few semesters to do that work without taking any classes.

Compared to Other Programs

Though four to six years may sound like a lot of time to some students, this is less time than it takes to complete a Doctor of Philosophy program. Those programs take a minimum of five years to finish, and some students will spend up to seven years or more working on their degrees. Doctoral programs include a dissertation that students spend years doing research on and writing. Some colleges offer education doctorate programs in psychology designed for those who want to work in schools and with students in other settings. Those programs take full-time students just three years to finish.

Factors That Determine Length

According to two doctoral degree holders from Psychology Today, one of the key factors that will determine how long it takes to complete a doctoral program is the funding that students have. Those who pay out of pocket will typically take longer to finish their degrees because they may need to take time off to save money. Many doctoral programs offer funding in the form of assistant jobs. Students can teach classes and work as teaching assistants or assist professors with projects as research assistants. They can also use private and government loans to pay for some of their program costs.

Psychology doctoral programs include both Doctor of Psychology and Doctor of Philosophy options. Students in the first type of program will do some practical and service work as well as take classes. The average length of a Psy.D. program usually ranges between four and six years.