A Guide to PsyD Programs
A PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) degree is a professional degree used to practice psychology working with patients in a clinical setting. In the United States today, half of all graduate students in the field of clinical psychology are enrolled in PsyD programs. You can choose from a variety of PsyD programs in order to earn your degree, and your new credentials will allow you to take many different career paths once you graduate.
Psychology Career Paths
Different PsyD programs are available at many universities around the world, and the program you decide to enroll in will dictate the career path you’ll take after graduation. Regardless of which program you pick, you will be required to apply for and maintain professional licensure for the duration of your career. Each state has its own licensing board and requirements, so make sure you check with your state before you begin to practice. Most universities will guide you through this process while you are working on your degree.
If you earn your PsyD degree from an accredited university and you go on to become licensed, you can expect to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist, counseling patients in a private or government setting. You will be able to conduct psychological testing, engage in studies and submit your findings in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, and carry out psychological evaluations.
Finding the Right PsyD Programs
Once you have decided upon the career path you will pursue with your degree, you need to look into different PsyD programs to determine which course of study will best suit your needs. PsyD programs differ based upon the university and departments therein, so you should thoroughly research each of your college choices before committing to one.
Compile a short list of universities you would like to attend. Make sure you have selected institutions that offer PsyD degrees. Contact the psychology department at each university on your list and make appointments to speak to someone. Take notes at the meetings, and ask about the unique qualities of each university’s PsyD program while on each campus as well.
Typical Course of Study for PsyD Programs
PsyD programs typically range from five to seven years, and require roughly 90-120 credit hours to complete the degree. There is standard coursework you must complete in the early stages of your degree, and your curriculum will generally include some variation of the following subject areas:
- Individual differences, including lifespan development and personality
- Bases of behavior
- Legal and ethical issues
- Development of psychological theories and practices
- History and systems
- Research design and statistics
Once you have completed your initial coursework, clinical experience is the next step in most PsyD programs. Most universities require three or four years of working with patients under close supervision in a clinical setting. This portion of the program, called “practicum placement,” starts in either the first or the second year of study. The next step is your doctoral internship, during which time you must complete an intensive placement period in a clinical setting. This part of the program generally lasts one to two years.
Finally, all PsyD programs require you to write a dissertation before you graduate. You are free to write your dissertation about any topic from your coursework that interests you. However, once you select your topic, your dissertation committee must approve it before you begin writing. Your dissertation must involve completely original quantitative or qualitative research, as well as critical literature analysis or clinical analysis and application. The dissertation portion of PsyD programs takes roughly two to three years to finish.