Doctoral Degree Programs in Clinical Psychology
Learn about doctoral degree programs in clinical psychology. Go over educational prerequisites and commonly required courses, and take a look at popular career options and continuing education information for graduates.
Prospective clinical psychologists are required to earn doctoral degrees in order to gain licensure and practice in clinical settings. Students can pursue either a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology. Admission requirements for both of these programs often include a master's degree in psychology or a closely related field, though some programs will admit students who only hold a bachelor's degree. In either case, foundational psychology coursework must be completed prior to doctoral program admission.
Both Psy.D. and Ph.D. degree programs in clinical psychology involve traditional lecture-based courses, clinical experiences and a thesis project. However, Psy.D. programs usually emphasize clinical practice, while Ph.D. programs are frequently more research-oriented.
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology
The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a practice-based graduate degree program that introduces students to a number of advanced clinical topics in the field.
While most programs require that students hold a master's degree in a psychology field, some may be designed to admit students with only a bachelor's degree. All students are generally required to have completed certain basic psychology courses before entering, such as abnormal psychology and developmental psychology.
The curriculum of a Psy.D. in clinical psychology usually involves coursework specific to the field and practical, clinical experience. An original thesis, defended orally by the student, is also required for graduation. Students take seminar style courses and may study some of the topics listed below.
- Behavioral neuroscience
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Group psychotherapy
- Psychotherapy for children
Popular Career Options
Graduates of Psy.D. degree programs in clinical psychology may be qualified to pursue some of the clinical careers listed below. They may work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals or community health centers.
- Forensic psychology
- Health psychology
Continuing Education Information
Clinical psychologists must be certified by the state in which they plan to practice. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) awards specialty certification in a number of specializations, including school and rehabilitation psychology.
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a research-based graduate degree program that introduces students to a wide range of advanced theoretical topics in the field.
Most Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology require students to hold a master's degree in a psychology-related field, although some programs may admit bachelor's degree holders. Scores from a standardized test, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), are generally required.
The curriculum of clinical psychology Ph.D. programs emphasizes the scientific study of psychology, including related theories and methodologies. Students in a clinical psychology Ph.D. program usually engage in a clinical internship and may study some of the following topics.
- Clinical research methods
- Theoretical aspects of clinical psychology
- Clinical psychology and statistics
- Psychodynamic psychology
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology may be qualified for a variety of clinical and academic careers, such as those listed below. Most graduates pursue scholarly or researched-based careers.
- College psychology professor
- Psychology statistician
- Substance abuse therapist
- Pediatric psychologist
Continuing Education Information
Ph.D. graduates may choose to further specialize in a particular area of the field, such as technologies in psychology or childhood psychopathology. Specializing involves additional study and possible certification.
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