Psyd vs. PhD programs

Written by jocelyn right
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PhD in psychology, or a Psy.D? Which degree should you pursue? Prospective psychology graduate students must ask this question before committing to one. There are differences between the options, so you'll want to understand each before committing to your field of study.


A PhD, which stands for doctor of philosophy, is designed to train an individual for research and clinical practice, with an equal emphasis placed on both. A Psy.D, or doctor of psychology, is designed to focus more on clinical practice, although there is some research training.


A PhD program culminates in a dissertation, an original research-driven empirical study completed by the doctoral candidate. The candidate must defend the dissertation before a panel before receiving the Ph.D. There is a similar project in Psy.D programs, however, it is usually actionable and related to clinical functionality. A Psy.D candidate may design a treatment program to fulfil the dissertation or project associated with the Psy.D degree.


While both fields of study can be expensive, PhD programs are often funded by the university through which they are offered. Many graduate students in PhD programs do not have to pay and are awarded a small stipend for conducting research or teaching undergraduate classes as they study. Psy.D degrees, however, do not usually come with the same options. In fact, Psy.D degrees are usually not funded at all and are typically offered through professional schools as opposed to universities.


In the academic world, a PhD is considered superior to a Psy.D, though in the professional world holding a Psy.D is not considered a disadvantage. Depending on your professional goals, the differences between the two degrees may be negligible.

Job Placement

A Psy.D degree offers clinical and professional training but little to no research or teaching experience. PhD degree programs place equal emphasis on research and clinical/professional training. Consequently, a PhD may provide more options for employment.

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