The Key Differences between PhD & PsyD Degrees

If becoming a fully licensed psychologist, researcher, or professor is your goal, then there are several degrees available that can help you on the path toward the career that you want to choose. To be specific, there are two primary doctoral-level options that can help you become qualified to work at the highest level of the field – the Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D., and the Doctor of Psychology or PsyD degrees.

If you think that PhD. or PsyD is not the degree that you want to pursue, there are still other degrees that you can train to work in psychology in a highly specialized way. But before we dive into the different options including the Ph.D. and PsyD degrees, let us tackle first on how you should select the right degree program for you. This is somehow an important topic to discuss because now that you are ready to continue your education, it is essential that you know where to get the degree and this includes the process of choosing a school which is one of the most exciting choices that you will be making. Since this is a big step towards working on the career of your dreams, it is crucial that you know now what your vocation in life is.


  • You have to consider your options first


Higher education nowadays has been becoming more and more accessible. Students can either travel away to attend classes in various universities or they can choose to enroll in online classes without having to leave home. These universities are great places wherein students can simultaneously develop their skills and meet new people and explore career opportunities.


  • Choose a school and program which you think is fit for you


In choosing a school and degree program, this process is much easier if the student knows what his or her specific career goals are. There are professions that require degrees from four-year universities, while there are also other lines of work that only require two-year degrees or vocation certificates. It is also essential to consider that a number of colleges and universities are stronger in some educational departments and weaker in other educational departments. It is much easier to match a school or education program to your professional goals if you already know what you want to do for a living.


  • If you have not yet settled on a career path, you can try to visit a career center or meet with a guidance counselor so that you can learn about a job that will fit with your natural abilities


It is essential that you do everything you can in narrowing your professional goals to a specific line of work. But, if you are still undecided, you need not panic. You can choose to begin at a vocational school and acquire certification courses at any time, and then during the first couple of years at universities, they will offer a number of choices for students to help them shape their long-term goals.


  • Evaluate whether you are the technical type of person


A technical type of person is one who enjoys working with their hands or being creating. Fields that are in this career path includes subjects like technology, engineering, beauty therapy, massage therapy, physiotherapy, and many more. There is also a broad range of careers for you to choose from, some of which are Medical, Engineering, Faculty of Arts, School of Science, and many more.


  • Evaluate if you are one who enjoys working with figures, numbers, logistics and the like


If you are this type of person then you can choose a career field that involves Economics, Finance, Auditing, Computer Technology, and many more.


  • Evaluate if you are one who enjoys working with people or you prefer to work alone


It is not possible that you can work entirely on your own all the time. This is an important factor to consider when in the process of choosing a career. There are persons who prefer autonomy and those who do not like to have a boss or anyone to account to, thus they should prefer to consider job opportunities that make an allowance for self-employment.


  • Evaluate yourself and your needs


If your priority is to earn money and be successful, then you may want to consider career choices that pay well and at the same time has opportunities for growth and giving you personal fulfillment at the same time.

Now that you have all these broad information on how you should choose your career path, we hope that it had helped you in your decision-making process, however, to help you further, the following will be a discussion as to the similarities and differences between the PhD and PsyD degrees and what its potential impact on your career are.


  • Ph.D. in Psychology program – 


From the two main psychology degrees, the more common degree is the Ph.D. The American Psychological Association (APA) said that the Ph.D. degree intends for students to be interested in generating new knowledge through scientific research that is, by setting up experiments, collecting data, application of statistical analytical techniques thereby gaining teaching experience.


  • The PsyD program – 


In the 1970s, the Doctor of Psychology degree was introduced to serve as an alternative for students who were not that inclined to conduct ongoing psychological research and are more inclined to provide psychological services to patients and the public. According to the American Psychological Association, the focus of the PsyD program is to provide training to students for them to engage in careers that apply scientific knowledge of psychology.

Aside from the primary focus of each degree, there are other differences that are to be considered as well. Below are the other comparisons between the Ph.D. and PsyD degrees:


  • As to admission requirements


The Ph.D. and PsyD have the same minimum requirements, and these are: a Master’s degree in psychology or other related fields, but it is also possible to fined combined Master’s or doctoral degree programs that accept students who have a Bachelor’s degree only. Another requirement common to both is that you will likely need to have a high GPA (at least 3.0), good scores on the GRE or other tests, write personal essays, undergo interviews, and also submit letters of recommendation.


  • As to average acceptance rate


The acceptance rate is where there is a significant difference in the admission process of Ph.D. and PsyD programs. Because there are way more Ph.D. programs in psychology that are available, they tend to become highly selective, which is why a lot are only accepting 10 students or less per year. Throughout the country, this works out to an average acceptance rate of about 13% of the applicants.

However, in the PsyD program, they tend to accommodate a higher number of students every year. The acceptance rate may vary from every school where there are times where they accept in as many as 100. This is together with the fact there are fewer students who are applying to these programs in general thereby making up an average acceptance rate of about 40%.

Even with a higher acceptance rate, this does not necessarily mean that the PsyD program is easier to get into. Although they are accepting more students than the PhDs, there are still far fewer students who are in the PsyD program as a whole. This indicates that the available number of PsyD spots across the country could either be the same or even less than those of the Ph.D. programs.


  • As to the length of the program


In Ph.D., the length of the program usually takes 5 to 8 years, while the PsyD from usually takes 4 to 6 years.


  • As to courses and training


In Ph.D., the program usually includes research, statistics, and teaching methodologies which can lead to producing new scientific knowledge. While in the PsyD programs, this will emphasize training that allows you to apply your knowledge in a practical setting, thus, you will likely still conduct some research.

However, in both programs, you are still going to be required to participate in an APA-accredited internship for at least a year. When you choose a program or internship that is not APA-accredited, it could be difficult for you to get your license.


  • As to Doctoral project


In a Ph.D. program, one requirement is for you to complete and defend a dissertation. There are also a lot of PsyD programs that will also require a dissertation or equivalent doctoral project which is likely designed to demonstrate different skills that research-driven Ph.D. dissertations.


  • As to funding


Another important part of selecting the program and school that you are going to attend is financial aid. Most of the Ph.D. programs are waiving a student’s tuition and also provide a stipend for assisting with research or teaching.

However, this is not the case for PsyD programs and students who are graduates of PsyD programs are more likely to leave with student debt, although the potential to graduate in less time means you can find work and start earning a salary early on.


  • As to licensing and certification


B Both the Ph.D. and PsyD programs require state licensing, while certification is optional.


  • As to career options


In Ph.D., they are often in a research lab and teaching positions including applied practical roles. While in PsyD, they often direct client care in positions such as counseling, social work, human services, and consultations.

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