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What Can You Do With a PhD in Psychology?

A PhD in psychology provides an in-depth understanding of human behavior and cognitive processes. This, coupled with knowledge of treatment methods and research skills, makes graduates of these programs ideal candidates for jobs including marriage and family therapists, education administrators, and survey researchers.

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Individuals who pursue a PhD in psychology are educated on the various elements of human behavior and gain a better understanding of mental disorders and their treatments. They learn how to properly identify behavioral issues and are introduced to various treatment methods. Conducting research and analysis is a strong component of these programs, giving graduates the skills and the education necessary to identify, assess and solve real-world problems. Degree candidates can choose a concentration in areas like behavioral neuroscience or clinical, cognitive, health, quantitative or developmental psychology.

PhD in Psychology Jobs/Salary

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Psychologists $77,030 14%
Marriage and Family Therapists $48,790 23%
Survey Researchers $54,270 2%
Postsecondary Psychology Teacher $73,770 15%
Postsecondary Education Administrators $92,360 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Behavioral Sciences, General
  • Biopsychology
  • Clinical Psychology, General
  • Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Community Psychology
  • Comparitive Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology, General
  • Environmental Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Family Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology, General
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Medical Psychology
  • Personality Psychology
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Psychology, General
  • Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology

PhD in Psychology Careers

Psychologists

Psychologists aid in the identification of emotional, organizational, behavioral, or psychological issues through observing and interviewing individuals or conducting surveys. They engage in scientific studies related to human behavior and brain function in an attempt to accurately identify emotional and behavioral patterns of individuals. This job may entail writing reports detailing findings and supervising clinicians, interns, and counselors. Psychologists typically need a PhD in order to obtain board certification/licensure.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists talk with their clients about their experiences and emotions and help them to process both. They assist their clients in developing skills and strategies designed to alter their behavior and help them cope with various situations that they may face. Additionally, they point clients toward resources and services within their community as well as support groups and treatment centers. While a PhD is not a requirement for this position, there are psychology PhD programs that focus specifically on marriage and family therapy, giving graduates an advanced understanding of this form of therapy and a leg up in their career.

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers collect information on research topics and use that information to design and plan surveys that aid in answering specific questions. They conduct testing on surveys to ensure that questions are understandable as well as analyze surveys to determine their effectiveness and identify needed changes. While a master's might be sufficient for some jobs, those with a PhD will have an easier time gaining employment and have a more in-depth knowledge of their area of study.

Postsecondary Psychology Teacher

Postsecondary psychology teachers teach courses in areas like psychological counseling, developmental psychology, and clinical and child psychology. They may conduct lectures on topics like cognitive processes, work motivation, and abnormal psychology. Other job duties can include creating course syllabi and observing the performance of their students both in the classroom and in the laboratory. Those with a PhD will be able to conduct research and teach at the highest levels of academia.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators can work in a wide range of areas within educational institutions, such as admissions, student affairs, and registration. Administrators who work in the registrar's office deal with scheduling, registration, and academic records. Admissions officers deal with student applications and school promotion. Student affairs administrators typically deal with nonacademic student programs and advising. Graduates who have earned a PhD have a better chance at promotion and will have the degree necessary to advance to the position of dean.

Regardless of their degree concentration, psychology PhD graduates will have a good understanding of human behavior, in addition to research and analytical skills. This degree can lead to jobs in such areas as education, education administration, survey design, and therapy.

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