Earning your Doctoral Degree in psychology is a requirement if you want to work in a number of job areas, such as a counseling psychologist or a licensed clinical psychologist. Note that there are several types of doctorate that you can earn in psychology, including a Ph.D., Psy.D or Ed.D. Which you choose to earn will depend upon what your career goals are.
If you are interested in mostly a research-based model of education, you should consider the Ph.D. On the other hand, if you want to focus on a practitioner-based education model, you may want to consider a Psy.D. degree. Also, if you want to work as a school psychologist or as a psychologist in another related educational setting, you should consider the Ed.D doctoral degree.
For you to earn your Ph.D., expect to take from 5-7 years. For your Psy.D., degree, expect to take 4-6 years, and for your Ed.D. degree, it takes 3-5 years. You should keep in mind that many people who are working towards their Ed.D. already have earned their master’s degree, while many applicants to Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs have a bachelor’s degree.
Why Earn a Psy.D. Degree
Earning a doctoral degree in psychology will allow you to work in private practice if you like, and to pursue many other rewarding career opportunities.
Today, you can choose between a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree. If you are interested more in clinical practice, the Psy.D. could be the ideal choice. Earning the Psy.D. degree can be a great career opportunity for the professional interested in a clinical career for these reasons:
- More emphasis on practice: This degree is largely focused on practical applications of theoretical, psychological frameworks and therapeutic methods. Your Psy.D. degree will usually require you to do a dissertation using psychological literature, producing research is not the main focus of the degree. The stress in this program is on enhancing your clinical skills so you can be the best psychologist you can be.
- Ability to practice independently: Earning a master’s in psychology will let you start practice in some areas of psychology. But to practice on your own as a clinical or counseling psychologist, you must earn your doctorate. Your Psy.D. degree will allow you to work on your own counseling people to overcome their problems and diagnosed mental health problems.
- More clinical exposure: Because you are doing less research than in a Ph.D. program, you will have more exposure to clinical work earlier in your Psy.D. program. Many Psy.D. programs will have many chances for your to focus your degree more specifically by choosing various concentrations in your clinical work. This type of program will give you a great amount of clinical practice knowledge, which will enhance your skills when you start to work in private practice.
- Shorter time: A Ph.D. program can take as many as seven years to complete, but a Psy.D. program will usually take four or five years. If you want to work in clinical practice, you may want to earn a Psy.D. so that you can start practicing sooner.
- Increasing popularity: Many once thought that a Ph.D. was better than a Psy.D. degree. Today, the Psy.D. is more popular than ever. Neither degree is ‘better’ than the other. It really comes down to whether the focus of your career is going to be more research or clinical practice.
- Dual degree: As with many other doctorates, you can sometimes pair the Psy.D. degree with other degrees. This will allow you work on more than one field of interest at a time. You will have the ability to earn two advanced degrees at the same time in less time than it would take to earn them each separately.
Featured Online Psy.D. Degrees
- PhD. in Psychology: This doctorate degree from Walden University follows a scholar-practitioner model that encourages the student to integrate research into your practical experiences. This program is taught by highly respected practitioners and researchers. This program will equip you well to make a major difference in many psychology settings, from the university to the health care workplace. Note that if you have a bachelor’s degree you can apply for this doctoral program. Also, if you received your Master of Science from Walden, you can apply credits to your doctoral degree.
- PhD. in Psychology: This doctoral program at Northcentral University is designed to the growing interest in the field of psychology, and also the need for more opportunities in the educational realm of psychology. You will be able to fine tune and hone your critical thinking abilities in this program, and to greatly expand your base of knowledge. There is a strong focus in this online degree program on applied experiential learning.
- PhD. in Marriage and Family Therapy: The purpose of this program from Northcentral University is to give you a lot of personalization and flexibility in getting your PhD in a highly specialized field. You can complete all of your coursework online, and finish your clinical training and research in your community. This doctoral degree will prepare you to enter the very quickly growing field of marriage and family therapy.
- D. in Health Psychology: The purpose of this Ph.D. from Northcentral University is to give you a deep understanding of all of the factors that influence psychology around issues of health and illness. Required classes in this doctoral program include Health Psychology, Research Methods, Psychosocial Factors in Health, Statistics, Behavioral Nutrition, Tests and Measurements, and Eating Disorders and Obesity. Northcentral is featured in our report of the top online Ph.D programs for 2017.
- PhD. in Mental Health Policy and Practice: In this doctoral degree from Northcentral University, you will have the chance to develop an edge in building both your organizational skills and your practice, to market your services in behavioral health. This very focused specialization includes many highly advanced concepts in training in modern behavioral health. You will take classes in Mental Health Services Policy, Research Methods, Mental Health Administration, Comparative Analysis, Evidence-Based Treatments, and Quantitative Research Design.
Popular Career Paths for a Psy.D. Degree
Obtaining your Psy.D. degree will offer you the ability to work in many highly rewarding psychology-related professions and specialities:
With a Psy.D. degree in psychology, you can work as a fully independent psychologist and have your own consultancy or private practice. Your Psy.D. program will offer you the chance to specialize in different areas of psychology, as well. Some of the most common specialities of psychologist are:
- Clinical: Assess, diagnose and treat a variety of emotional and mental health disorders. A clinical psychologist helps individuals and families to deal with many different personal problems as well as more severe, long term mental health problems.
- Health: Focus on the study of how psychology and behavior relate to health. You will educate your patients and health care staff about how psychological issues can affect our health. Also, you may investigate how to address behaviors that affect health, such as smoking and poor diet.
- Counseling: Assist your patients in understanding their personal problems, which can include home and marital problems, as well as community and job problems. You will work with the patient or patients to identify the best strategies to overcome their personal problems.
- Forensic: Use advanced principles of psychology in the criminal justice system to assist legal stakeholders to better understand the psychological issues in play in criminal and civil cases.
- Industrial/organizational: Use principles of psychology in the workplace to make the workplace a more productive place for workers. You also will work with senior management to teach them how to better screen and train employees, and to match them with jobs that suit their skills.
- School: Work with students of various ages and help them to overcome their educational and developmental disorders.
One of the best reasons to get a Psy.D. degree today is that there is a very strong surge in demand for psychologists – there will be a 19% increase in demand for all psychologists by 2024. Our aging US population will lead to more people needing to use psychologists to improve their mental state as they age.
Marriage and Family Therapist
A marriage and family therapist helps an individual and couple to overcome various emotional and mental health issues that are causing trouble in their family lives. They talk to their clients either as a couple or one on one to help them to understand the nature of their personal and relationship problems.
Marriage and family therapists often will use cognitive behavioral therapy to help their clients to understand negative thinking, and teach them how to replace those thoughts with healthier ones.
Marriage and family therapists usually use more of a family focused perspective to the treatment plan. This is the case even when counseling just the individual.
As with psychologists, marriage and family therapists will see a 19% increase in demand by 2024 according to bls.gov. More people now have access to health care insurance, and this will cause more people to attempt to treat their personal and relationship problems.
More military veterans also are coming home from deployment and are finding that they have marital problems. Veterans will be using the services of these psychology professionals more in the coming years.
- Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-2
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-2