You love people. You love talking to them and helping them. You’ve decided helping people work on their mental health might be the right path for your career. To get there, you’re considering a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. If you’re curious about becoming an expert in your field, use this guide to all things PsyD to get started. 

Before you hit submit on any applications, it’s important to get more information. Take the first step in understanding more about PsyDs with answers to your many questions about this advanced degree.

What Is a PsyD?

A PsyD, which stands for Doctor of Psychology, is a professional doctoral degree in psychology. PsyDs are distinct from PhDs in psychology, which are research-focused degrees. PsyDs are also different from PsyD equivalents in other countries, which may be more research-focused or clinical-focused. PsyDs are offered at a limited number of universities in the United States and Canada, currently 217 to be exact, according to Social Psychology Network.

How Can I Become a Doctor of Psychology?

In order to become a Doctor of Psychology, you must first complete a PsyD program. PsyD programs typically take four years to complete, although some programs may require five years of study. Some PsyD programs may require students to complete a dissertation, but many programs do not. PsyD programs typically include coursework in psychopathology,  ethics, and research methods. PsyD students may also complete internships and practicum placements as part of their training.

What Are the Prerequisites of a PsyD?

There are no specific prerequisites to earn a PsyD, but most PsyD programs require students to have completed a bachelor’s degree. For the Doctor of Psychology program at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), for example, you will need to have a strong Internet connection to access classes and research online, and you will need verification of your proficiency of the English language (via a BA earned in English or via an English proficiency test) and a master’s degree from an approved accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

What Are the Benefits of Earning a PsyD?

There are a number of benefits to earning a PsyD degree. Not only will you become an expert in your field and join an elite group who have reached the pinnacle of their education, but you also may have the opportunity to earn more. You may also help clients make progress toward their goals, as Very Well Mind points out.

What Can You Expect from a PsyD Program?

PsyD programs provide you with the foundation you need to succeed in the field of psychology. This program can help you build a knowledge base of the history and systems of the field, and gain an in-depth understanding of mental health. Selecting a specialization within psychology will help you hone your skills further. In your PsyD program, you can expect to learn how to:

  • Utilize a knowledge base grounded in theory, evidence-based practice, and research
  • Integrate leadership skills
  • Gain real-world skills for the psychology field
  • Apply best practices

What is the Difference Between a PsyD and a PhD in Psychology?

The PsyD is a professional doctoral degree that prepares students for careers as psychology professionals, while the PhD is a research doctoral degree that prepares students for careers in academia. PsyDs may require less time to complete than PhDs, though each will depend on your institution, research, area of specialization, and your own educational background. Entering a program with transfer credits, for example, might lessen the time of your program at an institution such as UAGC. In a PsyD program, you can expect to see classes like psychopathology,  ethics, and research methods, while PhD programs focus on research methods and statistics. During a PhD in Psychology, you can expect to see classes like theory, research, evidence-based practice, capstone seminar, and an applied doctoral project.

What Skills Will I Learn in a PsyD Program?

PsyD students typically learn skills that are applicable to the real-world practice of psychology, including psychopathology,  ethics, and research methods. Beyond these skills, you’ll learn things like how to research, how to practice remotely, and how to apply theory.

What is the Job Outlook for Graduates of PsyD Programs?

The job outlook for graduates of PsyD programs is positive. PsyDs are in high demand and the number of PsyD programs is growing, according to the BLS. PsyD graduates can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practice, and academia. The BLS cites the field grows by approximately 9% per year on average. With mental health awareness on the rise, the number may increase. 

PsyD graduates may also choose to pursue careers in research or teaching. PsyDs can help prepare you for a career as a psychologist, human resources specialist, or postsecondary business teacher, among other roles. PsyD programs may also be completed online, which offers students more flexibility. 

What Are the Advantages of a PsyD Over a PhD?

PsyDs differ from PhDs in several ways, and you may be interested in pursuing a PsyD for several reasons. According to Online Psychology Degrees, some of the benefits of a PsyD versus a PhD include the following:

  • Bigger emphasis on the practice of psychology versus the theory
  • Slightly less competitive admissions
  • Option to pursue clinical specializations
  • Shorter, accelerated programs

If you’re interested in becoming a Doctor of Psychology, visit your state’s licensing board to find out more about PsyD programs in your area and their specific requirements for career readiness.

What Can I Do with a PsyD?

PsyD graduates can work in a variety of settings, including mental health, education, business, health care, counseling, and social and human services. Furthermore, if you have also acquired several years of business and industry experience, you can obtain jobs in consulting and marketing research. 

Overview: What Is a PsyD?

A PsyD is a Doctor of Psychology program that prepares you to enter the field of psychology and specialize in an area that interests you with a strong median salary and growth outlook in the U.S., PsyDs are an alternative to PhDs in Psychology that emphasize clinical practice. Further, PsyD students can choose to specialize in criminology and justice studies, health and wellness psychology, or sport and performance psychology. . Classes in evidence-based practice, leadership, behavior, and psychology theory will round out your education. To learn more, contact an advisor today.


Written by University Staff

Certain degree programs may not be available in all states. 

The Doctor of Psychology program is not a licensure program. The University of Arizona Global Campus cannot confirm whether its courses or programs meet requirements for professional licensure in your state. For information regarding professional licensure requirements in your state, you should contact the applicable licensing board or agency in your state and determine whether the program meets requirements for licensure in the state where you reside.

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