A degree in psychology opens up the door to a multitude of career ventures. In any case, psychologists evaluate and study the affect, behavior, and cognition of others. The way in which this study is applied on a professional level depends on the kind of higher education you decide to pursue. Some psychologists provide mental health or consultant services, while others conduct research or teach. For those who are interested in pursuing psychology in a clinical capacity there are two graduate level options: PhD and PsyD. Traditionally, the PhD was the highest level of education one could earn in the field, and those who wanted to practice clinical psychology and psychotherapy typically took this route. However, since the 1970’s the PsyD has become increasingly popular. If you are considering a career as a therapist or in clinical work here are five reasons you may want to considering pursuing a PsyD rather than a PhD in Psychology:
Emphasis on Practice
The PsyD is a degree that is focused on the practical application of theoretical frameworks and therapeutic techniques. While a PsyD program will still require a dissertation applying relevant psychological literature, being able to produce unique, empirical psychological research will not be at the helm of the degree holder’s work. A PsyD will emphasize clinical skills and prepare you to be an effective practitioner.
Earlier Clinical Exposure
Due to the PsyD’s emphasis on clinical practice over research, programs begin to incorporate clinical exposure earlier. Many PsyD programs will also offer opportunities to narrow your focus by choosing concentrations within clinical practice. These programs will give the degree holder a wealth of practice-based knowledge, exposure to and implementation of advanced therapeutic techniques, as well as many different types of supervised experiences.
The average time it takes to complete a PhD is five to seven years, while it typically takes four to six years to complete a PsyD. If practice is your goal, then it may make more sense to pursue a PsyD which will place you in a clinical setting a little bit sooner than if you were to pursue a PhD.
Formerly, it was believed that a PhD was superior to a PsyD. However, with the rising popularity of the degree, it has become clear that the differences between the two have less to do with which is better than the other and more to do with the personal goals of the degree holder.
Dual Degree Programs
As with other doctorate degrees, the PsyD may be combined with other professional degrees which may allow you to combine two fields of interest or better prepare you to accomplish your professional goals. In addition to programs that offer concentrations in the PsyD, there are a number of dual degree programs including PsyD/MA, PsyD/MBA, and PsyD/MEd programs.
Both a PhD and a PsyD are prestigious degrees that require an investment of time and money. However, depending on what you are trying to accomplish with your degree one may be more suited to you than the other. If practicing psychotherapy is the main goal of pursuing graduate level study in psychology and you do not plan on conducting your own academic research then the PsyD may be for you. Whichever path you may choose, it is important to research the programs that you are interested in in terms of accreditation, cost, concentration, dual degree opportunities, as well as what types of experiences the program offers. Look into programs thoroughly in order to determine the best fit for your your needs.