Doctor of Psychology Program and Curriculum Information

Doctor of Psychology degree programs teach students prepare students to practice psychology in a clinical setting. As such, they emphasize practical and clinical experience in addition to classroom coursework.

Essential Information

Psychology students seeking a clinical doctoral program may be interested in a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. These programs represent the main academic prerequisite for licensure as a clinical psychologist. Prerequisites include a bachelor's and master's degree preferably in a related field.

Psy.D. programs take at least four years to complete and involve classroom coursework as well as in-depth, psychological research and extensive clinical rotations. Comprehensive exams and a Doctoral thesis are also required.

Doctor of Psychology

Although some Psy.D. programs are set up to receive bachelor's degree graduates, most programs require students to hold a master's degree in a related field. Unlike Ph.D. programs in psychology that are based firmly in scientific method and research, Psy.D programs emphasize the role of the practitioner. The curriculum usually involves a combination of seminar-style courses in various psychology and practical, clinical lab experience. Students are required to complete doctoral theses and pass comprehensive psychology exams before graduating. Common courses include:

  • Community psychology
  • Sociocultural behavior
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Psychoanalytic developmental psychology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Behavioral assessment

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

Graduates may practice in the private sector or work for government or state agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of psychologists in general will increase by 19% between 2014 and 2024 ( The BLS also stated that as of 2015, the median wage for psychologists was $72,580 per year. However, wages can vary based on the field of expertise.

Continuing Education Information

Psy.D. graduates may choose to specialize in particular areas of the field, such as forensic, experimental or developmental psychology. This type of specialization may require additional education and training. Psychologists must also seek certification by the state in which they plan to practice.

A doctoral degree program in psychology is one option for students aspiring to become licensed clinical psychologists. Along with coursework and clinical rotations, students typically need to complete comprehensive exams and a doctoral thesis in order to graduate.

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