Traditionally, a psychology student that wishes to continue their education beyond a Master’s Degree will decide to enroll in a PhD in Psychology program. The PhD program is considered a research degree and focuses on education and high level psychological research. The PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, is for those psychology majors that are more interested in clinical situations and continuing patient work. It is becoming a more popular alternative for professionals in the psychology field.
The Doctor of Psychology degree was first awarded in the 1960’s. The idea was to have a level of mastery that coincides with the area of psychology that works directly with patients and is similar to a MD in medicine. The PsyD graduate would still conduct research and would be able to teach, but most of the program focuses on clinical and patient situations. PsyD graduates often manage their own practice and continue to see patients.
There are additional benefits to attaining a Doctor of Psychology. Traditional PhD programs are often difficult to get accepted into while the PsyD is not, and the PsyD is typically a shorter program.
A PsyD degree takes between 4 and 6 years to complete. This is a shorter timeframe than the traditional PhD in Psychology which can take up to 8 years to complete. In a PhD program, there are 1-2 years of supervised internship required to graduate, and the internship is not typically a requirement of the PsyD program. The field is extremely competitive, and it is imperative that you apply to more than one school that fits your needs for the PsyD degree. Requirements for acceptance are different between schools. Some PsyD programs require that you have earned a Master’s Degree prior to acceptance and some do not.
Where to Attend
It is important to seek out a Institution of Higher Education that offers the Doctor of Psychology, or PsyD, and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body. Argosy University’s American School of Professional Psychologists boasts several locations across the country that offer a PsyD in Clinical Psychology.
Yeshiva University in New York offers a specific PsyD in School-Clinical Child Psychology, a program that focuses on school-aged children and their families. This program looks at under-served populations, developmental disabilities, and childhood trauma issues and works to stabilize environments and surroundings for children. Baylor University in Waco, TX offers a PsyD in Clinical Psychology and has a great reputation for success. Their graduates have a 100% licensure rate, and 90% of their students obtained an APA/CPA Accredited Internship while in the program.
Clinical psychologists who have earned a PsyD work in a wide variety of fields. Those disciplines include Child Psychology, Geropsychology, working with children and the elderly, respectively. Studying social and biological factors that affect mental health, PsyD graduates can choose to work towards improving mental health standards through Health Psychology. Many PsyD graduates work in the Neuropsychology field and help patients who have suffered strokes or other head injuries.
A PsyD graduate often has their own practice but can also find rewarding work in a school, hospital, community health center, VA center, or counseling office at a college or university.