Earning A Doctorate in Psychology? PhD, PsyD, and EdD Degrees.

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For those serious about a long and successful career in psychology, a doctorate in psychology, should be the degree of choice. In fact, more often than not, a doctorate-level degree in psychology is a prerequisite to obtaining state licensing and is required to work in many psychology fields.

How long it takes to earn a doctorate in psychology depends on a number of factors including the field of psychology you pursue, your specialty, and even the school where you eventually earn your degree. Typically, it takes anywhere from five to seven years to earn a doctorate in psychology. Some specialties, such as licensed clinical psychology, also require the completion of a one to two year supervised residency program following the completion of a doctorate degree.

However, before you jump right in to a doctorate program make sure you’ve considered all your options. A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is not the only doctorate degree you can pursue. You may also want to look into earning a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) or EdD (Doctor of Education). All three of these doctoral-level programs will qualify you for a career in psychology. So which one should you choose? Let’s look more closely at the PhD and PsyD degrees.

PhD, PsyD or EdD?

While a PhD, PsyD or EdD will both prepare you for a career in psychology, it’s important to understand the benefits and limitations of each.

A PhD in Psychology, otherwise known as a Doctorate in Philosophy, is a traditional degree that most people are familiar with. This degree focuses on education through research. Psychologists who complete a PhD program are well prepared for a career in a variety of psychology fields and settings. PhD graduates work in research and teaching at colleges, as practicing clinical psychologists at hospitals, clinics and mental health institutions, and as consultants for government agencies.

Unlike the PhD in psychology, which employs a research-based model of education, the PsyD degree, or Doctorate of Psychology, is more practitioner focused. While PsyD graduates are qualified to teach and perform research, they more often are involved in applied psychology settings where mental health services and direct patient care is provided.

While less common, the EdD (Doctor of Education) is another degree option for aspiring psychologists. The Ed.D. uniquely qualifies aspiring psychologists to work in education related fields such as school psychology. This degree should only be considered an option for those who are certain they want to pursue a career in education.

How Long Does It Take to Earn A Doctorate in Psychology?

As we pointed out previously, how long it takes you to earn a doctorate in psychology will depend on several factors, including the field of psychology you pursue, your specialty, your previous education, or even the specific program you select. If you want to get through your doctorate degree as quickly as possible then the key is to start early in your educational career. Make sure you take all the prerequisite courses while completing your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree.

  • Time to Complete a PhD in Psychology – On average, it will take anywhere from 4 to 7 years to complete a PhD in psychology. Following the completion of your degree, you may also be required to complete a 1- to 2-year supervised internship program to qualify for state licensing.

  • Time to Complete a PsyD Degree – A PsyD typically takes less time to complete than a PhD The PsyD can be completed in 4 to 6 years.

  • Time To Complete a EdD Degree – An Ed.D. degree can be completed in less time than it takes to complete a PsyD or PhD It typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete a Ed.D. program. However, obtaining a master’s degree is often a prerequisite for many Ed.D. programs. Conversely, many PhD and PsyD programs will accepted applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology.


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