This article discusses the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree, and why you should consider earning this highly regarded doctoral degree. This article also covers different specialties you can focus on in this degree program, accreditation and your career options after graduation.
What Is a Psy.D. Degree?
A Psy.D. degree is a terminal, doctoral degree that is awarded to professionals who have completed this clinical psychology degree. To become a practicing psychologist in one’s own private practice, you generally must earn either a Psy.D. degree or a Ph.D. in psychology. Most professionals who earn their Psy.D. degree either work in private practice or in academia.
After you earn your degree, you will need to have an internship with at least one year of supervised work experience, and then you have to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology to obtain your state license.
Why Earn a Psy.D. Degree?
The field of psychology is a growing field with good job demand and salary potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of psychology will experience a job growth rate of 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average. Also, the employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is poised to grow by 20% by 2024.
In terms of salary, the median pay in the field of psychology is $72,000 per year, with the top 10% with Ph.D.’s and Psy.D. degrees earning more than $118,000 per year. So in terms of job demand and salary, earning a Psy.D. degree can be well worth the time and effort.
There should be strong demand for psychologists with this post-graduate degree for years to come as there is a strong focus on preventative healthcare today to control costs. If people are well in body and in mind at the same time, healthcare costs can be controlled.
To ensure you can maximize your salary potential, you should think about which specialty of psychology you want to focus on in your Psy.D. program, some of which we outline later in this article. Also, you will need to determine if you have the time to commit to this lengthy doctoral program.
Even if you decide to do the program online and full time, you should expect it to take at least four years.
Differences Between Psy.D. and Ph.D.
This is a common question that many students have: Should I earn the Psy.D. or the Ph.D.? Generally, research and administration is the focus of most Ph.D. in psychology programs, while clinical practice is the focus of the typical Psy.D. program. If you want to work more on treating and assessing clients and patients, you may want to earn your Psy.D.
Choosing Your Psy.D. Degree Path
After you have decided that you do want to pursue your Psy.D. degree, you should determine which specialty is of most interest to you. The specialty you choose will of course influence where you end up working and doing in your day to day life. Common specializations for the Psy.D. degree are:
- Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology: This type of degree focuses on learning assessment and intervention skills to help people better manage their lives. You will be able to help people to improve their quality of life through preventive mental health processes and wellness applications. Most professionals with this type of Psy.D. degree work in clinics, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies.
- Psy.D. in School Psychology: The demand for school psychologists is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. You will learn how to assess the strengths and skills of your students, and also will learn how to counsel them to do better in school and to improve their socialization skills. Many professionals who earn this degree work as school psychologists, diagnosticians and program evaluators.
- Psy.D. in Child and Adolescent Psychology: You are trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat many mental illnesses that are related to adolescents and children. Some of these may include problems with the family; mental problems, serious emotional problems; behavioral issues; peer pressure and learning disorders. You will study advanced research methodology, statistical analysis, experimental design and more.
- Psy.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology: This speciality of psychology is focused on applying principles of psychology to the workplace. You will among other things, design and choose tests and interview questions to show employers who is best to hire for which positions; develop assessment packages to judge individual employees and the organization overall.
Online Psy.D. Options
If you have determined that a Psy.D. is the degree for you, think about earning your degree at Eastern Kentucky University online. This Psy.D. program features 120 credit hours of theory and practice in psychology, more than a year of practicum experience and also a year long, full time clinical internship. This particular program is focused on preparing you to work in rural or urban communities in need.
The curriculum in this five year, online program includes courses in:
- Substance abuse
- Mental health administrative assistance
- School based mental health services
- Working with underserved populations, which include veterans, adults and children with developmental problems and those who are blind or deaf
- Correctional and forensic psychology
- Assessment and management of behaviors regarded as suicidal
- Analysis of applied behavior
You should confirm that your university has been accredited by one of the six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the Department of Education:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
The American Psychological Association (APA) is a highly regarded accreditation organization, but it does not accredit online universities at this time.
Earning a Psy.D. degree will provide you with the skills and experience that you need to excel in many roles in psychology, whether you choose to be a practicing clinician or work as a business consultant, or as a professor in a university.