Psychiatry Graduate Programs: Degree and Residency Information

Graduate programs in psychiatry require the completion of a bachelor's degree program and satisfactory Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores. After students complete a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, they must enter a residency program and pass licensing exams before practicing psychiatry.

Essential Information

In order to become a psychiatrist, students must complete a bachelor's degree program, a medical degree program and a 4-year residency in addition to passing a licensing exam. In order to gain admission into an M.D. program, applicants must submit MCAT scores and demonstrate knowledge of biology, chemistry and psychology. Graduates who want to specialize further can do a 1-year fellowship program following residency.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; acceptable MCAT scores
  • Program Length: 4 years (medical degree); 4 years (residency)
  • Other Requirements: Clinical rotations

Graduate Programs in Psychiatry

Most medical schools have similar coursework requirements in human anatomy, biochemistry, pathology and immunology during the first two years of study. The fourth year electives, which allow students to focus on psychiatry, are often 1-3 month clinical rotations focused on a specialty. Common psychiatry electives in an M.D. program include:

  • Psychopharmacology
  • Addiction
  • Infant, child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Adult and geriatric psychiatry
  • Psychiatry at inpatient and outpatient facilities
  • Family and community psychiatry

Continuing Education Information

Students who complete an M.D. program can go on to a 4-year residency in psychiatry. Doctors work at area hospitals and medical facilities and complete psychiatric care requirements, including training in psychotherapy and working with mentally ill patients in behavioral health centers. Doctors who complete their psychiatry residency are eligible to sit for the psychiatry certification examination, administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., and resulting in state licensure as a board-certified psychiatrist.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 18% growth for all physicians and surgeons, including psychiatrists, between 2012 and 2022. This expected growth rate is faster than the average for occupations in all fields. Psychiatrists earned a median annual salary of $181,880 in May 2014, the BLS reported.

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