Many people see the difference between the letters Ph.D. and PsyD, but don’t actually know what the difference is aside from that. In basic terms, earning a Ph.D. makes you a Doctor in Philosophy whereas earning a PsyD is a Doctor of Psychology. Your education choice will depend on what you’re looking to do with the degree. While working towards a Ph.D. there will be a great emphasis on research whereas PsyD students put in more time towards clinical work. PsyD degrees also take slightly less time being earned in 4-6 years with the potential for a yearlong internship whereas PhDs take 5-7 years.
Graduating with a Doctorate in Psychology can be used in career specialties like organizational development, business psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, and even business psychology. Because this is as advanced as education gets, students are typically required to complete extensive fieldwork in various settings. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) demands that students meet the following standards through their training.
- Knowledge mastery through passing comprehensive exams
- Clinical skill through successful completion of a pre-doctoral internship
- Scholarship through a doctoral research project
Despite these standards, schools do offer online Ph.D. psychology degrees. After earning the degree there are also licensing exams that must be completed and passed before entering the workforce. Passing these exams paired with the Doctorate degree in Psychology will allow you to conduct psychological examinations on patients, administer evaluations, and treat mental disorders. Popular career paths include:
- Forensic psychologists
- School psychologists
- Social worker
- Clinical psychologist
The advanced degree will give you flexibility when it comes to choosing your work setting. You’re not limited to working within a hospital but are also qualified for working within mental health clinics, rehabilitation facilities, government offices, and schools. With enough start-up money and clientele, you can even create your own private organization that consults or treats patients.
Another factor that will play a great role in your decision to get a PsyD is the career pay scale. While there are definitely opportunities to earn more, below are the averages defined by Payscale.com.
- Psychologist: $42,724 – $101,935
- Clinical Psychologist: $50,414 – $102,931
- Clinical Director: $56,766 – $98,968
According to psydprograms.org the top ten most lucrative jobs you can get with a PsyD are:
- Private Practice Psychologist ($150,000)
- Engineering Psychologist ($108,000)
- Industrial Psychologist ($103,000)
- Administrative Hospital Psychologist ($95,000)
- Neuropsychologist ($91,000)
- Forensic Psychologist ($85,000)
- Correctional Facility Psychologist ($85,000)
- Military Psychologist ($80,000)
- Clinical Psychologist ($80,000)
- Counseling Psychologist ($73,000)
If you’re looking to pursue a career in the psychology research field, a Ph.D. may be a better option for you. However, if you’re looking to work in counseling and actual patient interaction, a PsyD is the way to go.
An example of the curriculum for a PsyD includes research courses, core courses, and clinical experiences. Online Ph.D. psychology degrees include the same learning objectives as more expensive in-person or blending learning programs.
For one particular University, graduation requirements include:
- 4 years in the program for students with a Bachelor’s Degree
- 3 years in the program for students with a Master’s Degree
- 750 hours of supervised fieldwork
- Pass the Master’s in Psychology written and oral comprehensive exams after 2 years in the PsyD program
- Completion of original Clinical Case Study
- Pass written and oral comprehensive examinations after completing doctoral coursework
- 60 hours of personal therapy within a group, couple, family, or individual setting
- Maximum of 6 years with cohort after PsyD completion
While you want to do something that you’re going to be passionate about, the return on educational investment is also an important factor in your decision to return to school for an advanced education. Because the schooling takes more years than an undergraduate degree, the cost is going to be a factor.