Psy. D. Program Requirements
Because a Psy. D. is a terminal degree, you’ll need to prove previous experience in the subject before you’re accepted into one of these programs. The specific requirements vary among programs, so contact the universities where you wish to study to learn more about entry requirements. For most programs, however, you can expect requirements in the following categories:
- Previous degree in psychology
- Successful completion of key psychology courses
- Minimum GPA scores
The typical path to a Psy. D. program is earning a bachelor’s in psychology and then a master’s in psychology. Some programs are willing to consider an application without degrees in these specific subjects. For example, you may be able to apply to a master’s in psychology with a bachelor’s in sociology or a related field.
Many master’s in psychology programs require internship or practicum hours before earning a degree. This means that most Psy. D. candidates have hands-on experience working with psychologists and other mental health professionals. Even if these hours aren’t required for your chosen master’s and Psy. D. programs, they can strengthen your application.
You can still explore Psy. D. degree programs even if you don’t have a master’s degree. Many institutions offer combined programs, so you can apply with only a bachelor’s degree and receive all the necessary training to earn a Psy. D. at the end of your course.
Specific Course Requirements
Earning a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology will give you a broad range of knowledge and experience in the field. Many Psy. D. programs, however, are specifically interested in your completion of a few courses. You may need to pass these courses to be considered or to have a robust application:
- Learning, cognitive or developmental psychology
- Social psychology
The specific course requirements vary, and these courses are common in master’s programs in the field. If you earned a master’s degree earlier in your career, consider refreshing your knowledge of these and other foundational areas as you prepare a Psy. D. program application.
Your undergraduate GPA isn’t likely to affect the admissions process of your Doctor of Psychology program, but many programs look at your master’s degree GPA. Competitive applications have a GPA of at least 3.0. You may be considered for some programs with a lower GPA, but this is a common entrance requirement.
A Psy. D. degree is a professionally focused alternative to a Ph. D. degree. Most programs don't require GRE or GMAT scores. You can find many competitive, APA-accredited options without taking the GRE.
Are There Any APA-Accredited Online Psy. D. Programs?
APA accreditation requires universities to align curriculum, testing practices, and academic standards with the APA guidelines. While many online Psy. D. programs offer rigorous coursework and competitive career preparation, there currently are no APA-accredited online Psy. D. programs.
Review in-person APA-accredited Psy. D. programs and highly rated online Psy. D. programs to determine the best option for your career. If you value the accreditation standards of APA, you can search for local universities or consider relocating to complete your program. Otherwise, you can search for competitive and flexible online programs to earn your Psy. D. from home.
APA-Accredited Psy. D. Programs With No GRE Requirements
Psy. D. programs primarily aim to prepare you to work as a practitioner in the field. This is reflected in the coursework, faculty experience, and entrance requirements. Explore the coursework, learning environments, and specialties available as you find the best program for your terminal degree.
Coursework for APA-Accredited and Online Psy. D. Programs
Study key areas of psychology to hone your current practice or prepare to provide therapy for the first time. The courses you’ll be required to take vary depending on the institution you choose, but these are common courses you can be expected to complete:
- Clinical interviewing
- Cognitive psychology
- Behavioral analysis
- Cognitive therapy
- Child assessment
- Developmental psychology
The practitioner-focused curriculum typically needs a dissertation. While foundational for Doctor of Philosophy students, Psy. D. students rarely invest this amount of time into a research project as part of their program.
Instead of a dissertation, prepare to spend a significant amount of time with more hands-on projects and experience. The primary goal of these degree programs is to prepare students for careers as practitioners. Other terminal programs focus more on blending researcher and practitioner experience.
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APA Accredited Hybrid PsyD Programs vs. Online Programs
While there are currently no APA-accredited PsyD online programs to earn a Doctor of Psychology degree, many competitive options are still available for online study. If you want the flexibility and convenience of an online program, then consider applying to either a hybrid or a fully online course.
Benefits of Hybrid Psy. D. Programs
Hybrid courses offer both in-person and online learning opportunities. A traditional example is an online course with an in-person lab component. Some hybrid programs offer distinct online and in-person courses, while others blend both throughout every class.
A hybrid course allows you to enjoy some of the flexibility of an online program while still keeping you connected to local students and professors. Because of some in-person components, you can't apply to a hybrid program in another city or state without relocating for your studies.
Benefits of Online Psy. D. Programs
Online Psy. D. programs allow you to apply from any part of the country or, sometimes, the world. You're free to remain in your home or move to a location with a competitive job market without worrying about the availability of Psy. D. degree opportunities in the area.
An online program can offer both synchronous and asynchronous methods of study. A synchronized learning experience typically includes live-streamed lectures and live chat rooms to discuss concepts with other students. Asynchronous learning takes advantage of video recording and text-based chat rooms to allow you to attend lectures at your convenience.
Clinical Psychology Psy. D. Programs and Other Concentrations
Psy. D. terminal degrees are focused on the practical skills, theories, and resources counselors need to perform their daily duties. Because of this, programs can be specialized to cover topics related to your chosen career path. Consider one of these concentrations as you explore APA accredited programs:
Counseling psychology: Diagnose and treat various mental, emotional, and physical programs to improve patients' well-being. Counseling psychologists work with patients to resolve personal crises and identify treatment options.
- Clinical psychology: Specialize in severe mental disorders through the branch of psychopathology. Clinical psychologists work closely with medical practitioners and other professionals for diagnosis and treatment plans across the lifespan.
- Behavioral psychology: This branch of psychology focuses on behaviors and how they impact moods, thoughts, and emotions. Work with your patients to create specific actions to help them positively shape their emotional responses.
- Industrial-organizational psychology: Not all psychologists work with individuals facing severe crises. Utilize your expertise to improve organizational efficiency, workplace satisfaction, and cultural awareness in corporate settings.
- Developmental psychology: Whether working in a school or other setting, development psychologists use their expertise in physical, emotional, and social development to assist patients across the lifespan.
These are the most common concentrations, but you can find additional specialization opportunities as you compare universities and speak with faculty. Balance a broad understanding of psychological principles with a concentration that equips you with the specific resources you need in your practice.
Psy. D. vs. Ph. D. Psychology Programs
An APA accredited Psy. D. program is a competitive option to become a board-certified psychologist. Still, a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology can also prepare you for the same certificate and license. What are the differences between these two popular programs?
The key difference is the focus of the program. Most Ph.D. programs are primarily academic. They can prepare you for a career as a psychologist and equip you with the skills and training you need to be a professor or researcher.
A Psy. D. program is focused more exclusively on practical knowledge. Most don't require a dissertation but focus the entire study on training you in theoretical and practical knowledge in diagnosis and treatment plans.
Length of Study for Psy. D. Programs With APA Accreditation
The minimum length of study for most APA accredited Psy. D. program is four years. Some students take up to seven years to complete a terminal degree. This length is more common for Ph. D. programs than Psy. D. programs because the additional time is typically used to complete a dissertation.
If you don't have a master's degree, completing your combined program may take five or more years. Work with your advisor to determine the years required to complete your program.
Licensing and Certification Steps for Online Psy. D. Programs
Becoming a licensed psychologist typically requires a doctoral degree. While you may be able to see patients after earning a master's degree, you typically can't establish your own practice.
Both Psy. D. and Ph. D. programs in psychology prepare you to become a licensed psychologist. You may need to complete additional supervised clinical hours, depending on your previous experience, program and state.
The most common licensing process across all the states is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology or EPPP. The EPPP may be enough to become board licensed as a psychologist, but you may also need to pass a state-specific examination.
Psy. D. Careers and Job Outlook
Train to become a psychologist and work closely with patients and fellow clinicians. Psychologist careers are varied and offer you many opportunities to make a difference. Some work with a specific group of people, such as child psychologists. Others work in a specific setting, like a private practice, but treat individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Here are the most common work environments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS:
- Self-employed psychologists
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Ambulatory healthcare services
- Government settings
- Private, local, and state hospitals
Psy. D. Salary Information
Because of the range of settings and career opportunities, the expected salary for professionals with a Psy. D. can vary. For most psychologists, the 2020 median pay was approximately $82,200, according to BLS. According to BLS, the job outlook for this category is approximately eight percent growth between 2020 and 2030.
According to BLS, postsecondary psychology teachers earned a median annual wage of $78,200 in 2020. Industrial-organizational psychologists earned around $96,300 in the same year.
Psy. D. Clinical Psychology Salary
BLS doesn't separate clinical psychologists but offers clinical, counseling, and school psychologist data. This group earned a median salary of about $79,800 in 2020. The highest 10 percent of salaries had a median of approximately $138,600.
The salary expectations also vary depending on the area where clinical psychologists work. For example, psychologists in outpatient care centers earned a mean wage of approximately $109,100, while psychologists in elementary and secondary schools earned a mean wage of about $81,000.
Psy. D. vs. Ph. D. Salary
According to Payscale, in November 2021, professionals with a Doctor of Psychology degree will earn a median salary of about $83,000. Also, in November 2021, Payscale found that professionals with a Ph. D. in psychology earned approximately $89,000 as a median salary.
Both terminal degrees offer competitive career opportunities. As you compare the median salaries of professionals with both degrees, remember to consider any differences in program costs.
Skills Gained Through Online Psy. D. Programs
Because a Psy. D. degree is a terminal degree in your field, you’ve likely already practiced the skills you need to be a successful psychologist. Continue to hone these skills that you’ve practiced through your bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and any field experience:
- Empathy: A primary skill of a successful psychologist is empathy. Empathy helps you provide guidance and treatment options for individuals going through severe trauma or dealing with a serious mental disorder.
- Attention to detail: Identifying small emotional or behavioral details can lead to breakthroughs in therapy. As a psychologist, you can’t afford to mix up the details of treatment plans or diagnostic tools.
- Ethics: Psychologists work with patients in states of emotional trauma. Like other care providers, you must always act ethically during patient care.
- Problem-solving skills: Psychological diagnosis isn’t always an exact science, so you must have problem-solving skills to identify the signs and symptoms of a particular disorder.
- Research skills: The field constantly changes as researchers uncover new methodologies and theories. You’ll need research skills to stay at the forefront of modern psychological care.
- Patience: Just like other medical practitioners, you’ll likely meet patients unaware of their psychological state or the importance of therapy. Use patience with your patients to look for opportunities for therapeutic breakthroughs.
- Clear communication: Practice communicating clearly with patients and other professionals. Avoid miscommunication or inappropriate communication strategies.
- Active listening: A critical part of therapy is active listening. Be sure you genuinely listen and respond to clients’ concerns and insights into their psychological state.
Explore Psy. D. Programs and Entrance Requirements Today
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What to Look for in an Online Psy. D. Program
An accredited program has met the requirements of an accrediting agency. Since the criteria evaluated during the accreditation process directly or indirectly affect the quality of education received, it is best to know the program’s accreditation status before enrolling.
The body in charge of accrediting the Psy. programs is the APA-CoA (APA Commission on Accreditation). It accredits doctoral programs in clinical psychology, school psychology, counseling psychology, and other areas of professional psychology. A little research is needed to confirm whether an online Psy. D program is accredited or not. You start by checking the program’s website or contacting the accreditation body.
Every educational program has requirements that must be met before you can be admitted. Reviewing these requirements before enrolling and paying any fee is often advisable. Requirements vary from program to program, but some general ones include educational background, transcript, work experience, personal statement, and letter of recommendation. Check the program’s official website for specific program requirements.
Reviewing the school faculty can help ensure that the school has the expertise and qualifications to run the program. A deeper dive into the university faculty provides additional insight into teaching philosophies and student/instructor dynamics.
However, getting information about the faculty can be challenging. It is often advisable to start with the school’s online community via their website or social media groups. If you’re able to interact with current students or alumni, don’t hesitate to make connections and ask questions.
A significant factor to consider when evaluating online Psy. D programs is the cost. The cost may include tuition, course materials, and fees. Fortunately, some programs offer grants and scholarships. Admissions offices can also help you explore financial aid options.
Faculty-to-student ratios are the number of faculty staff employed by the institution compared to the number of students. It usually indicates the level of individual attention students receive from faculty members. This ratio is typically expressed as a numerical ratio, such as 1:15, where the first represents the total number of faculty members and the second represents the total number of students. In the case of 1:15, there is one faculty member for every fifteen students. Consider this ratio when evaluating programs if class size and personal attention from faculty are important factors for you.
Do I need a Master’s Degree in Psychology to get Accepted into an APA-Accredited PsyD Program?
It is not mandatory to have a master’s Degree in psychology to enroll in PsyD. program. While most students enrolling for PsyD programs already have a master’s degree, you can also enroll in some programs with only a bachelor’s degree.
Using your bachelor’s degree for admission to PsyD programs will reduce your years in school. This is because some schools combine master’s and doctoral degrees in one program, which ends up being around five years. But if you intend to obtain both degrees separately, you might end up spending 6 to 9 years—2 to 3 years for the master’s degree and 4 to 6 years for the doctoral degree.
Can I Teach with a PsyD?
You can hold an academic position like teaching with a Psy.D. degree. Most Psy.D. degree holders are often hired as part-time adjunct instructors and, in a few cases, as full-time lecturers. This is because most full-time academic positions are held by PhD. psychologists.
However, if you intend to pursue a full-time teaching career with a Psy. D., it is advisable that you have relevant teaching experience, research publications, and professional credentials. This is because teaching positions are competitive and often require your experience and specialized knowledge.
Are Online Psy. D. Programs Entirely Online?
Online Psy.D. programs are primarily conducted through online platforms but may include some in-person requirements. While coursework and lectures are typically delivered online, the in-person requirements may be supervised clinical practicum experiences. However, the exact structure and format of online Psy.D. programs can vary depending on the institution and program.
The goal of in-person requirements in Online Psy.D programs is to allow students to gain hands-on experience, interact with peers, and receive direct supervision. These requirements can vary in duration, ranging from a few days to several weeks. So, it’s important to research and review the specific details of any online Psy.D. program you are considering. You can get information on the program’s website or the admissions department.