Coursework in the beginning of a doctoral program is usually devoted to the study of topics such as mental health in the aged and therapeutic interventions for elderly clients. The coursework is designed to help you decide upon an area of concentration for your dissertation. Earning the doctorate is one step toward psychologist licensure, though further professional experience is also required.
Some programs require only a bachelor's degree in psychology with a 3.0 grade point average, but some may require a master's degree. Some programs may also require supporting courses in mathematics, biology and statistics. Programs are typically 5 years in length.
Doctorate in Geropsychology
Academic courses in a geropsychology doctoral program are taken primarily during the first two years of study. The later years are divided between clinical courses and researching and writing the dissertation. Courses may include:
- Cognition and aging
- Life cycle development
- Psychological assessment
- Ethics in psychology
- Therapy techniques
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a doctoral degree program in geropsychology are qualified to become clinical researchers or practicing psychologists who specialize in the mental health needs of the elderly. Geropsychologists work in hospitals, nursing homes and in private practice. Although figures for the specialty aren't available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projects 19% growth in employment of psychologists over the 2014-2024 decade. As of May 2015, school, clinical and counseling psychologists earned a median annual salary of $70,580.
Continuing Education Information
All states require practicing psychologists to be licensed. Requirements vary, but licensure generally entails earning a doctorate, completing an internship, accumulating 1-2 years of professional experience and passing a standard exam. Some states also require periodic renewal of a license through continuing medical education courses.
Specialty certifications in clinical psychology and counseling psychology are available from the American Board of Professional Psychology. An academic credentials review, a performance review and oral and written examinations comprise the certification process.
Students pursuing their doctorate in geropsychology will study psychology, aging, therapy techniques and more, in preparation for becoming clinical researchers or practicing psychologists for the elderly. Graduates can expect faster-than-average growth in the field, but will need to obtain state licensure before practicing.