Clinical Psychology Vs. Developmental Psychology

Mar 04, 2019

Here we discuss some of the similarities and differences between graduate programs in clinical psychology and developmental psychology. Find out what specific degrees are available, some common graduation requirements and how to apply.

Clinical psychology and developmental psychology graduate programs are usually available as a concentration area within master's and doctoral programs in psychology. Both programs are usually research-based, but clinical psychology may be more hands-on and developmental psychology may allow for other experiences/applications, like teaching. Explore the different programs available and learn about their requirements.

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Clinical Psychology vs. Developmental Psychology

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology graduate programs are designed to develop clinical scientists who are equipped to help people with a range of mental-health issues and primarily are available at the doctoral level as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), but some Master of Arts (MA) programs are available in the field. Programs at both levels usually cover and/or offer further specialization in different areas of study in clinical psychology, such as adult psychopathology, behavioral neuroscience, clinical child and adolescent psychology, clinical health psychology and forensic psychology. Coursework for clinical psychology graduate programs varies based on the program, specialization and students' interests, but may include topics in psychotherapy research, ethics, the history of psychology, statistics and diagnostic interviewing. Doctoral programs usually include coursework and clinical internship and/or clinical practicum experiences for hands-on learning and some programs may require comprehensive exams, research projects and/or thesis or dissertation.

Master's programs in the field may be completed in as little as 15 months and are generally used as preparation for a doctoral program, while the doctoral programs usually take around 5 to 6 years to complete and prepare graduates for careers as academic and professional clinical psychologists studying and/or treating mental illnesses.

Developmental Psychology

Graduate programs in developmental psychology are typically available as MA or PhD programs and focus on the study of biological, social, emotional and cognitive development. Students in these programs may be able to further specialize and/or focus their research in areas such as memory, child care, culture and ethnicity, emotion and stress, risk and prevention, prenatal development and many more. Course topics vary depending on a student's interests, but may cover topics like statistics, developmental psychobiology, social/emotional development, cognitive development, psychopathology and research methods.

The MA program can be finished in 2 years and may include a practicum experience and/or a culminating project, while the PhD program may take about 5 years and usually requires comprehensive exams, a dissertation and teaching experience. Graduates of these programs may work as researchers and/or educators in colleges, community programs, the government, child care organizations and more.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission requirements for clinical and developmental psychology graduate programs are fairly similar, as these areas are usually offered as a concentration area within a master's or doctoral program in psychology. Students usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree and may need to meet a minimum GPA. These programs typically require or prefer the GRE, and students can expect to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or essay responses with their application. Students will usually need to specify on the application which area of interest they intend to pursue and doctoral students may need to identify possible advisors. Some programs may also include an interview process.

Students can commonly earn an MA, PhD or PsyD in Clinical Psychology or an MA or PhD in Developmental Psychology. These degree programs are similar in length, but clinical psychology programs usually require more hands-on learning experiences through internships and practicums.


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