Best Doctorate in Psychology (Ph.D. and Psy.D.) | (2022)

The American Psychological Association recognizes three distinct categories of doctoral programs: clinical, counseling, and school psychology. Clinical psychology emphasizes compiling and analyzing research data about individuals, while counseling psychology students focus more on treating mental and emotional health issues. School psychology programs explore issues surrounding child and adolescent mental development.

Students interested in teaching or research roles can earn a Ph.D. in psychology, while candidates planning to go into private practice or work with patients may pursue a Psy.D.

This page covers everything you need to know about pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology. Read on to learn how to choose the right school and degree program.

Pros | Cons

It Takes Longer to Earn the Doctorate Degree in Psychology

Most doctorate degree in psychology programs can be completed in four to seven years. This, of course, is the longest possible amount of time a psychology professional can expect to spend on their schooling. The time commitment requires a student's full attention, and it is for this reason that some students elect to move straight from their bachelor's in psychology to their Ph.D. in psychology.


While students will be pledging a great deal of time and effort towards their academic pursuits, those who choose to pursue their Ph.D. in psychology will find that this is the most lucrative career move.


At times, it can be very hard for Ph.D. in psychology students to juggle work, internships, clinical training and psychology studies. What's more, almost all Ph.D. in psychology candidates go on to continue their research and training for one to two years after graduation; these externships and practical experiences must be present in order to qualify most Ph.D.s for work.

Once Graduated with a Ph.D. in Psychology, You Enter the Workforce as an Authority in the Field

Part of enrolling and earning a doctorate degree in psychology is making the time and the connections that will allow students to gain intensive practical experience after graduation.


Ph.D. in psychology candidates with some experience are often preferred to master's degree in psychology candidates who may have more hands-on skills.


Some evidence suggests that Ph.D. in psychology candidates can oversaturate a market. In these cases, employers will be inclined to hire a candidate with more life experience (such as a master's degree) and lesser academic credentials.

The Doctorate Degree in Psychology is Versatile

Because a Ph.D. in psychology is a terminal credential for the majority of occupational psychologists, earning a doctorate degree in psychology in this broad field can offer candidates a certain amount of flexibility when searching for a career. For example, while there may not be many opportunities in a graduate's chosen field right away, a doctorate degree in psychology is an excellent credential for those who may be interested in teaching at the college or university level.

(Video) Should I get a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology?

There is a High Return on Investment

It could be argued that the cost of earning a Ph.D. in psychology is not consummate to the annual earnings for an average doctor of psychology. Some data points to the fact that the amount psychologists earn has much more to do with the industry in which they are employed than with their academic credentials. However, the disparity between the earnings for a bachelor's and master's degree graduate and a doctorate degree in psychology are substantial.


Psychologists can earn upwards of $100,000, according to the BLS. The median pay for 2018 was $79,010.


To offset the cost of tuition, doctorate degree in psychology students often must find fellowship, assistantship and paid internship opportunities in their area or through their university.

Featured Online Psychology Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

What Are The Admission Requirements for Psychology Ph.D. Programs?

  • Minimum Education Level:Master's degree, although a bachelor's with work experience is often also acceptable
  • Writing Sample:Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, usually with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Transcripts:3-5 letters
  • Standardized Tests:Personal statement of intent; previous academic research papers
  • Recommendations:GRE
  • Additional Required Materials:Immunization records; interviews; comprehensive qualifying exam; health insurance

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctoral Programs in Psychology

Can you prescribe medicine with a Ph.D. in psychology?

Typically, psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Psychiatrists hold prescriptive authority, and their educational backgrounds differ from that of psychologists. These professionals hold a medical degree, whereas psychologists generally do not. However, some states such as Louisiana, New Mexico, and Illinois, give psychologists prescribing authority, and more may soon follow suit.

(Video) Masters Vs. Ph.D./Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology?

Can you get a Ph.D. in psychology without a master's?

In many cases, you do not need to hold a master’s for admission to a Ph.D. program in psychology. Many programs accept candidates who hold a bachelor’s in the field. Some may require work or internship experience in addition to a bachelor’s degree, but this varies from program to program.

Can you get a Ph.D. in psychology online?

Yes! A variety of fully online psychology Ph.D. programs allow students to earn their degree anywhere, at any time. While these programs occasionally take longer to complete than the standard four-year timeline for full-time, full-residency programs, actual program lengths vary.

Why get a doctorate in psychology?

Professionals in all states must hold either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to obtain licensure and practice as a psychologist. A doctorate in psychology prepares candidates for clinical practice, and for more advanced roles in the field. Those with a Ph.D. also tend to earn more than those with a master’s degree.

How competitive are Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs?

Doctoral programs in psychology tend to hold high admissions standards, making them very competitive. On-campus programs may be even harder to get into, as they sometimes offer competitive funding and assistantship positions. Applicants should demonstrate a strong academic record with a high GPA.

What’s the difference between a Ph.D. in psychology vs. a Ph.D. in clinical psychology?

Ph.D. programs in psychology tend to place a stronger emphasis on research, and often include more courses in research methods and statistics. Psy.D. programs emphasize clinical practice, and are best suited for individuals seeking more clinical experience.

How Can I Guarantee My Acceptance Into a Doctorate Degree in Psychology Program?

  • The most important thing an applicant can do to increase their chances of being accepted into a doctorate degree in psychology program is to take part in research. Clinical trials and data analysis are some of the most vital components of a psychology career. Psychologists focus as much on mental and behavioral health as they do studying and understanding human behavior.
  • Completing relevant internships and practicums demonstrates a commitment to independent research and looks great on a doctorate degree in psychology application.
  • Prospective Ph.D. in psychology candidates can increase their chance of acceptance by cultivating professional relationships with a community of peers. Many do so by joining alumni associations, reaching out to colleagues on LinkedIn, and participating in professional organizations.
  • Subscribing to pertinent magazines, forums and workshops that are popular among others in the field. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is a good source for information on this topic.

Should I Get a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.?

The Ph.D. and Psy.D. degrees differ in a variety of ways. Students should consider each option carefully before choosing a program.

Ph.D. in psychology programs take between five to seven years to complete, and typically include one year-long internship. These programs sometimes admit fewer students, as they tend to offer more funding opportunities. Ph.D. programs place a stronger emphasis on research, including more coursework in research methods and statistics, and more research-based opportunities during the program. Graduates may pursue careers in research or academia.

The Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology degree instead of a doctor of philosophy degree. Psy.D. programs take between four and five years to complete, including an internship year. These programs are tailored more towards clinical practice, placing less of an emphasis on research. This track may particularly benefit students who wish to work directly with clients in clinical settings.

Both degrees prepare candidates to seek licensure as clinical psychologists. However, Ph.D. programs may best suit individuals who wish to conduct research or teach in colleges and universities after graduating.

What Should I Expect in a Doctorate Degree in Psychology Program?

Degree Completion Specifics

  • Number of Required Credits: 60-125
  • Typical Length of Program: 5-7 years
  • Culminating Experience Project/Paper/Exam: Yes
  • Practicums/Internships: Yes

Core Concepts

Developmental Psychology

This topic explores the biological, intellectual, and cognitive foundations of behavior.

Assessment, Statistics and Research Techniques

Research is a major component of psychology. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology should know how to effectively and efficiently gather pertinent information.

(Video) Why You Shouldn't get a PsyD

Multicultural Consistencies

These studies explore some commonly addressed issues for men and women of all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic circumstances.

Dissertation Research

Almost every Ph.D. in psychology program requires candidates to create and present a dissertation. Many courses prepare students to create, catalog, and share this vital work.

Ethics and Legal Issues in Psychology

More detailed than bachelor's or master's coursework in the same vein, Ph.D. in psychology students explore the important legal responsibilities and concerns commonly associated with their particular field of study.


Ph.D. in psychology students often concentrate their studies in a particular clinical or academic discipline. Immersion in these topics solidifies existing knowledge and offers the chance to work side-by-side with other psychology professionals in the candidate's area of interest. Some popular concentrations include:

Behavioral Neuroscience

This subfield explores how human brain systems engage in perception, human error, decision-making, movement, and cognition.

Clinical Psychology

Students gather the data necessary to understand emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal functions in adults and children.

Abnormal Psychological Disorders

In this subfield, students learn to evaluate, manage, and offer empathetic care to individuals suffering from ongoing psychological disorders and trauma.

Human Growth and Development

This research track investigates how the human mind evolves and devolves across the lifespan, paying special attention to behaviors, aptitudes, and at-risk behaviors.

(Video) FULLY FUNDED PHD IN PSYCHOLOGY| Fully-Funded PsyD Programs in USA


This focus area is ideal for those who wish to learn skills of value in careers such as teaching, intervention, and research. A developmental psychology specialty explores cognitive/socio-emotional development and developmental psychopathology.

What Kinds of Psychology Careers Can I Pursue With a Doctorate Degree in Psychology?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2018, doctoral graduates had the lowest unemployment rate among degree holders and earned the most, on average. Professionals with a Ph.D. in psychology can consider a wide range of positions, the most popular of which are forensic psychology, professorship and clinical psychology. Graduates may also seek positions in one of the following fields.

Career Options

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Average Annual Salary: $97,260

Postsecondary Teachers

Average Annual Salary: $78,470


Average Annual Salary: $82,050


Average Annual Salary: $149,900

(Video) Psychology Should I get a PhD or a PsyD


Which country is best for PsyD in psychology? ›

1. Austria. Home to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, Austria has long been at the forefront of psychology. Study abroad programs focused on psychology are available all over the country, offering courses in social psychology, counseling, and research methodologies, among others.

Which psychology PhD is best? ›

National Research Council Rankings
1.0Stanford UniversityPsychology
3.5University of Michigan--Ann ArborPsychology
3.5Yale UniversityPsychology
3.5University of California--Los AngelesPsychology
103 more rows

How long is a PhD in organizational psychology? ›

Online doctorate programs in industrial-organizational psychology usually require students to complete between 60 and 69 credits. For full-time students, this typically takes three to seven years.

How many PsyD programs are in the US? ›

150+ APA Accredited PsyD Programs | Online & On-campus | Campus Explorer.

Is a PsyD respected? ›

Both are usually highly respected. A PhD is typically viewed as a research-oriented degree. A PsyD is typically viewed as an appropriate degree for someone with clinical aspirations.
Doctoral Psychology Careers & Salaries.
CareersAnnual Median Salary
Exercise/Sports Psychologist$49,170
9 more rows

Is someone with PsyD a Doctor? ›

Is someone with a PsyD a doctor? Yes, as a doctorate-holder, a person who has earned a PsyD could definitely refer to themselves as “Dr.,” though it's good to note that PsyDs are not medical doctors and in most states cannot prescribe medication or conduct medical treatments.

Which PhD has highest salary? ›

#1 – PhD in Chemical Engineering

In recent years, chemical engineering has been recognized as the best doctoral degree by salary-offering steady job growth and high early career and mid-career salaries. Chemical engineers often work in biotechnology and business services as researchers.

Who makes more money PhD or PsyD? ›

The answer is that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that one or the other will result in making more money. Both PsyD and PhD graduates have the same kind of career prospects, and the same salary potential based on which career path they might take.

Which PhDs are most in demand? ›

Top PhD programs include physical therapy, education, administration, chemistry, and more. Political science, for example, allows you to work in one of the highest paying PhD jobs, which makes this one of the best options. PhDs involving technology are also popular.

Is a psy d better than a PhD? ›

Like a PhD in Psychology, the Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD) prepares students to practice psychology in a wide range of clinical settings. A PsyD, however, focuses more on clinical practice and less on research. As a result, this degree requires fewer research and statistics courses and thus takes less time.

Is a PhD in psychology hard to get? ›

Admission to PhD programs in clinical psychology is very competitive. Ratios of 300 applicants to 8 positions are common (though perhaps 10-15 people would have to be accepted to fill the 8 slots; some who are accepted decide to go elsewhere, or enter a different kind of graduate or professional program ).

Is a PhD in psychology worth it? ›

Earning your doctoral degree in psychology provides you with many job opportunities and a shot at earning a top salary in the field. It is a worthy educational goal that can “result a high level of personal and professional satisfaction.

Does a PsyD take longer than a PhD? ›

Program length

For most students, PsyD programs take roughly 4–6 years to complete. Due to the stronger emphasis on extensive research, PhD programs typically take between 5 and 8 years.

Do all PsyD programs require a dissertation? ›

PsyD programs generally don't expect as much research. Most programs do require a dissertation or other significant research project. However, the student is less likely to find themselves heavily involved in research during the early stages of the program.

How much do PsyD make in New York? ›

How Much Do Clinical Psychologists Make in New York?
New York$88,710
Rhode Island$86,370
New Jersey$85,160
17 more rows

What is someone with a PsyD called? ›

December 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) The Doctor of Psychology (Psy. D. or D. Psych.) is a professional doctoral degree intended to prepare graduates for careers that apply scientific knowledge of psychology and deliver empirically based service to individuals, groups and organizations.

Can I do PsyD without a Masters? ›

Can you get in without a master's degree? While there are PsyD programs that allow you to enter with only a bachelor's, your education will include working on your master's on your way to earning your doctoral degree.

How long does it take to get a PsyD in psychology? ›

The PsyD usually takes four to six years to finish but does not require a dissertation. This degree is more clinical.

Do psychologists get a Dr title? ›

No you can not be called a doctor as clinical psychologists are people who have earned a master's degree in clinical psychology. Those with a Master's degree in psychology, cannot use the title "Dr" until they have a Doctorate.

Can a PsyD prescribe medication? ›

In the vast majority of cases, psychologists cannot prescribe medications to their patients.

Why do psychologist call themselves doctors? ›

Psychologists who hold doctoral degrees, can use the title 'Dr. '. Psychologists who practice (and hence those who are licensed) typically will have completed their graduate university training in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, clinical neuropsychology or educational/school psychology.

Which PhD is easiest to get? ›

Examples of the easiest PhD programs: PhD Psychology. PhD Counselor Education and Supervision. PhD Business Management.
Online DBA program focuses:
  • DBA in General Management.
  • DBA in Organizational Leadership and Development.
  • DBA in Strategy and Innovation.

How old is the youngest PhD holder in the world? ›

The youngest person to be awarded a PhD is the German child prodigy Johann Heinrich Friedrich Karl Witte (born 10 July 1800; better known simply as Karl Witte), who received his doctorate from the University of Giessen, Germany, on 10 April 1814 at the age of 13 years 283 days.

What's higher than a PhD? ›

The Doctor of Divinity (DDiv) and the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) are considered by Oxford to outrank all other degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The DDiv is usually awarded for academic accomplishments beyond the PhD level.

What type of psychology makes the most money? ›

Psychiatrists prescribe medications for patients with mental illnesses. Psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors. The average salary is $217,798, according to PayScale.

Does a PhD in psychology make you a psychologist? ›

To become a clinical psychologist, you'll need a doctoral-level degree, either a PhD or a PsyD. Most clinical psychologist doctoral programs will require five to seven years of study to complete beyond the bachelor's and master's degrees.

Can you teach with a PsyD? ›

Most graduates of the PsyD program go on to become licensed psychologists in clinical practice who engage in psychotherapy, psychological assessment, and clinical research. The PsyD is APA-accredited and also provides opportunities for teaching, consultation, and administration.

What is the most difficult field to get a PhD? ›

1. Boarded Medical Doctor: After spending about eight years to earn your first degree, you are faced with between three and six years of residency. This is the most competitive field in education which means you must have passed through a very rigorous process to earn this certificate.

Which PhD is best for future? ›

degrees that may help you pursue high-paying jobs include:
  • Statistics.
  • Immunology.
  • Clinical psychology.
  • Electrical engineering.
  • Economics.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Organic chemistry.
  • Biomedical engineering.

What is salary after PhD? ›

The average salary of PhD holders ranges between ₹ 6,00,000 and ₹ 12,00,000 per year, depending on the field of choice, experience, and skillsets. The average base salary for a PhD holder working as a professor is ₹16,73,000 per year, approximately ₹90k per month).

Which country has highest demand for psychologist? ›

Top Destinations for a Career in Psychology
  1. Canada. Over the years, Canada has become a hot choice for aspirants looking for career options in various fields, and it's the same for psychology. ...
  2. The United States of America. ...
  3. Australia. ...
  4. The United Kingdom. ...
  5. Other Countries.
18 Apr 2022

Which abroad country is best for psychology? ›

Best Countries to Study Psychology
  • UK.
  • France.
  • Denmark.
  • The Netherlands.
  • Australia.
  • Canada.
  • Germany.
  • Italy.

What country has the best psychology program? ›

The UK offers some of the most highly ranked psychology programs in the world, as does the Netherlands. Germany also boasts a number of well respected psychology courses and has the added allure of meaning you'll be studying in the country where the discipline was born.

Which country needs the most psychologists? ›

It's not just psychoanalysis that's popular in Argentina. The country has the distinction of being home to more psychologists per capita than anywhere else in the world.

What field of psychology has the most jobs? ›

The field of clinical psychology employs the most workers of any field within psychology. These professionals assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide range of settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and private practices.

What type of psychologist is in high demand? ›

Popular psychology careers include clinical psychology, psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, private counseling, or organizational psychology. BLS data also projects a 14% increase in demand for psychologists in general through 2026, so students in the field can anticipate generous job availability upon graduation.

Where is the best place to live as a psychologist? ›

The Best Cities for Psychologist Work-Life Balance: Ranked from 1 to 100
Overall RankCityCity Livability
1McAllen, TX43
2El Paso, TX33
3Eau Claire, WI10
4Mankato, MN49
53 more rows
14 Aug 2019

What is the highest paid clinical psychologist? ›

Psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors. The average salary is $217,798, according to PayScale. A psychiatrist should be licensed as a board-certified psychologist.

Which course is best in psychology? ›

Here are the best Psychology courses at the master's level/after graduation:
  • MSc Clinical Psychology.
  • Master of Psychology.
  • MA Counselling Psychology.
  • MSc Behavioural Science.
  • MSc Developmental Psychopathology.
  • MA Developmental Psychology (Research Methods)
  • MA Ed Curriculum, Instructional and Educational Psychology.

Which foreign language is best for psychology? ›

Good languages for a research psychologist include Russian, French and German. If you want to become a clinical psychologist, many of your potential patients may be war trauma or natural disaster survivors.

What is the number one university for psychology? ›

Stanford University

What is the best state for psychology? ›

We found that Delaware is the best state in the nation for psychologists, and people in Monterey earn the most in the field.
1. Delaware.
Total Psychologist Jobs:32
Average Annual Salary:$118,166
Lowest 10 Percent Earn:$88,000
Highest 10 Percent Earn:$157,000
1 more row
6 Apr 2021

Who is the most respected psychologist? ›

  • B. F. Skinner. ...
  • Jean Piaget. Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development had a profound influence on psychology, especially the understanding of children's intellectual growth. ...
  • Sigmund Freud. ...
  • Albert Bandura. ...
  • Leon Festinger. ...
  • William James. ...
  • Ivan Pavlov. ...
  • Carl Rogers.
28 Mar 2020

Who is the number one psychologist in the world? ›

Sigmund Freud

He proposed that every mental illness is not due to psychological factors. His work is based on clinical and abnormal psychology.


1. Applying for Psychology Postdocs | Journey to Psy.D.
(Chelsea Hall, M.A.)
2. Top 10 PsyD Programs in Clinical Psychology
(Navigating Academia)
3. Psy.D. VS. Ph.D. | Clinical Psych Debunked | Renae’s Corner
(Renae's Corner)
4. 15 Things you can do with a PsyD | Clinical Psychology
(Phil's Guide to Psy.D.)
5. Fully-Funded PsyD Programs in Clinical Psychology (YES! They exist!)
(Navigating Academia)
6. Getting into a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program--Advice from a Professor
(Dr. Rheeda Walker)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Melvina Ondricka

Last Updated: 12/09/2022

Views: 5481

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Melvina Ondricka

Birthday: 2000-12-23

Address: Suite 382 139 Shaniqua Locks, Paulaborough, UT 90498

Phone: +636383657021

Job: Dynamic Government Specialist

Hobby: Kite flying, Watching movies, Knitting, Model building, Reading, Wood carving, Paintball

Introduction: My name is Melvina Ondricka, I am a helpful, fancy, friendly, innocent, outstanding, courageous, thoughtful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.