What to Major in to Become a Psychiatrist: Degree Options

Learn about the Doctor of Medicine Degree. Find out the curriculum, education prerequisites and coursework. Examine the graduate education requirements and licensing for this field.

View 9 Popular Schools »

Essential Information

At the bachelor's degree level, psychiatry majors are not available. Individuals interested in becoming psychiatrists may wish to study psychology or a science-related major such as biology. This learning must be complemented by a set of pre-medicine courses to qualify aspiring psychiatrists for medical school. Students can apply to medical school after earning a bachelor's degree that satisfies pre-medicine studies.

The Doctor of Medicine program lasts four years and includes both traditional coursework and intensive clinical training. In the first two years, students complete foundational courses while they work directly with patients.

The third year of a medical school program is known as the clerkship year, in which students work at clinical sites and complete rotations in the areas of obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, pediatrics, surgery and psychiatry. The fourth year prepares individuals for the psychiatric residency, and students work with physician advisors who help to ease the transition from medical student to resident. Upon earning an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine), individuals must satisfy licensing requirements and complete a residency in psychiatry, which culminates in board certification.

Education Prerequisites

Admittance to this degree program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution that satisfies pre-medicine prerequisite coursework, such as chemistry, organic chemistry and biology; experience with lab work is also expected. Other requirements include a high undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, an interview and satisfactory scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Program Coursework

Coursework in this degree program covers a wide-range of medical studies, including clinical medicine and epidemiology. Students are also required to spend a considerable amount of time engaged in laboratory work. Other classes might address:

  • Hematology
  • Behavioral science
  • Immunology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

As of 2010, physicians, including psychiatrists, held 691,000 jobs in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from the BLS shows the number of jobs for all physicians and surgeons was projected to grow by 24% between 2010 and 2020. The median annual salary for a psychiatrist was $173,330 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov).

Psychiatric Residency Requirements and Licensing Information

Graduates of medical degree programs are eligible to sit for the United States Medical Licensing examination, which results in state licensure as an M.D. These graduates can then apply for psychiatric residency programs to complete their clinical requirements. Psychiatric residencies are typically four years in length and require candidates to complete clinical rotations at hospitals and psychiatric care clinics. Residents might specialize in child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry or primary care psychiatry. After completing psychiatric residency requirements, doctors are eligible for board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc.

Show me popular schools

Related to What to Major in to Become a Psychiatrist: Degree Options

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Psychologist Vs. Psychiatrist: What's the Difference?

Psychologists and psychiatrists work with people suffering from grief, trauma or mental disorders. Both professions, though...

OCL Psychology Student Diary: Lessons Learned

Have you ever wondered what taking an online college course might be like? So did we, so we took one! But the course is now...

OCL Psychology Student Diary: The Home Stretch

Things are coming down to the home stretch now. Time to step up the studying and really make these last lessons count! With...

Top Schools for Psychology

Read about degree programs in psychology, a social science that includes specializations in clinical, biological and industrial...

Learn Psychology in the Blogosphere: Top 10 Psychology Blogs

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
    • Masters degree applicants must have a Bachelors degree
    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Which degree level do you plan to pursue?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • A minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submit high school transcript(s)
    • Submit college transcript(s) (if applicable)
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • B.S. in Health Sciences

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (2 campuses)
    • California (5)
    • Colorado (2)
    • Florida (1)
    • Hawaii (1)
    • Illinois (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • New Mexico (1)
    • Nevada (1)
    • Texas (2)
    • Utah (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    Do you prefer online or campus based learning?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Currently not accepting applications from Texas residents
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Bachelor
        • Bachelor of Science - Healthcare Management With a Dental Hygiene Emphasis

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics