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Doctoral Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology

Prospective clinical psychologists are required to earn doctoral degrees in order to gain licensure and practice in clinical settings. Students can pursue either a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology.

Essential Information

Both Psy.D. and Ph.D. degree programs in clinical psychology involve traditional lecture-based courses, clinical experiences and a thesis project. Psy.D. programs usually emphasize clinical practice, while Ph.D. programs are frequently more research-oriented.

  • Program Level for Clinical Psychology: Doctorate Degree
  • Field of Study: Students can pursue either a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology.
  • Prerequisites: Admission requirements for both of these programs often include a master's degree in psychology or a closely related field, though some programs will admit students who only hold a bachelor's degree. In either case, foundational psychology coursework must be completed prior to doctoral program admission.
  • Other Requirements: Students in both Psy.D. and Ph.D. degree programs usually engage in clinical experience.

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology

The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a practice-based graduate degree program that introduces students to a number of advanced clinical topics in the field. The curriculum of a Psy.D. in clinical psychology usually involves coursework specific to the field and practical, clinical experience. Students take seminar style courses and may study some of the topics listed below.

  • Behavioral neuroscience
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Psychotherapy for children

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a research-based graduate degree program that introduces students to a wide range of advanced theoretical topics in the field. The curriculum of clinical psychology Ph.D. programs emphasizes the scientific study of psychology, including related theories and methodologies. Students in a clinical psychology Ph.D. program may study some of the following topics:

  • Clinical research methods
  • Theoretical aspects of clinical psychology
  • Clinical psychology and statistics
  • Psychodynamic psychology
  • Psychopharmacology

Popular Career Options

Graduates of Psy.D. degree programs may work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals or community health centers. Graduates in clinical psychology may be qualified to pursue some of the clinical careers listed below.

  • Neuropsychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Health psychology

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology may be qualified for a variety of clinical and academic careers. Most graduates pursue scholarly or researched-based careers, such as the following:

  • College psychology professor
  • Psychology statistician
  • Substance abuse therapist
  • Pediatric psychologist

Continuing Education Information

Ph.D. graduates may choose to further specialize in a particular area of the field, such as technologies in psychology or childhood psychopathology. Specializing involves additional study and possible certification.

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