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.

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Essential Information

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.

Educational Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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.

  • Neuropsychology
  • 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.

Educational Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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
  • Psychopharmacology

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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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northwestern University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics
        • Community Psychology
        • Counseling Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
  • School locations:
    • North Dakota (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of North Dakota include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Counseling Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Texas Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Counseling Psychology, General
        • Experimental Psychology
        • Psychology, General
      • School Psychology
  • School locations:
    • Virginia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Virginia include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
      • School Psychology
  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Texas include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
      • School Psychology
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Psychology
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
        • Clinical Psychology, General
        • Counseling Psychology, General
        • Psychology, General
      • School Psychology

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