PhD Vs PsyD Of Psychology

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There are three options available for those who want to achieve a doctorate degree in psychology. The Ed.D. is a possibility but it is the least popular since it is the newest among the three options. Most people tend to choose the Ph.D. or the Psy.D. But before you choose between these two, you will need to know what the differences are. They have a different history, their emphasis is different, and the way they are delivered is different too.

Psy.D. – All About Practice

The Psy.D. or Doctor of Psychology, is a reasonably new degree. It first became available at the beginning of the 1970s. The goal was to create a degree that focuses on applied work, in the same way as what a lawyer does. Naturally, in this case, the focus would be not on law but rather on therapy. The belief is that the Ph.D. degree has a strong focus on research, but many people who have an interest in psychology and its clinical practice do not benefit from the Ph.D. at all. As a result, the Psy.D. degree was developed so that graduates could be the best of their kind as practicing psychologists. These doctorate degree programs, while delivered differently by different schools, tend to focus strongly on different therapeutic techniques, as well as offering supervised experiences. Although some research will also be conducted, it is not as significant as what is done in a Ph.D. program. Graduates can expect to have excellent knowledge and experience about practice areas within psychology. Additionally, they have a great understanding of the different research methodologies, are able to read and comprehend articles on research and can apply the findings from these articles to their own areas of work. In a sense, a Psy.D. graduate is a consumer of knowledge obtained through Ph.D. research on psychology.

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Ph.D. – All About Research (and a Bit of Practice)

The very first kind of doctorate in psychology, which was a Ph.D., was awarded in 1886 to Joseph Jastrow at Johns Hopkins University. Ph.D. programs have been created in order to produce psychologists who understand research and are able to apply it, just like Psy.D. graduates. However, they have further training that teaches them to actually accumulate new knowledge based on research. The emphasis, as such, is on both practice and research.

Different programs focus strongly on specific areas, with some producing scientists, for instance. Here, there is almost no emphasis on any practice activities, with full attention being paid to research. Indeed, students are actively discouraged from taking part in any kind of practice. The programs that emphasized practice became available after the Psy.D. program was developed, as it allowed students to take an either/or approach to learning. At the same time, however, there are still a number of programs that offer combination degrees. Here, science and practice are blended together to create scientist-practitioners. This means a graduate is not only competent in the practice of psychology but also in conducting psychological research. If you are considering the Ph.D. in psychology pathway, it is very important to research the different schools and their programs, so that you are clear about the degree of research and the degree of practice that will be included in the program.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between the Ph.D. and Psy.D.

Choosing between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. can be difficult if you want to combine both research and practical work. The official recommendation for someone who is unsure, or someone who would like to do research or teach at some point in the future, is to choose the Ph.D. This is because it is a more flexible degree with more career opportunities as well.


In most cases, there are more funding options for Ph.D. programs. Indeed, Psy.D. programs are generally paid for through personal loans. Finding a research grant for a Ph.D. program is much easier. This is because research faculties have the finances to hire a student to actually work at the same time, which means that they get benefits from lowering their tuition fees. At the same time, you are not guaranteed to receive funding as a Ph.D. student.

Completion Time

As a rule of thumb, it takes less time to complete a Psy.D. program than a Ph.D. degree. Psy.D. degrees do require quite a lot of theoretical and practical learning, however. Additionally, students must write a research dissertation and defend it. These take a considerable amount of time. At the same time, however, the Ph.D. has similar educational requirements, but their dissertation is much harder to complete. This is because a student must take part in an original piece of research and have this published. This can take an additional two years to achieve.

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The bottom line is that both degrees educate to graduate level. Choosing between them is a hard decision that is dependent on a variety of different factors. Financial capability is one of those factors, as is the type of degree and the completion time. However, many courses are now offered online, which make completion time more manageable overall.

About the Author: Ann Steele

This website is co-authored by Ann Steele, a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with extensive experience with children and adolescents. Ann Steele attended American School Of Psychology & Argosy University Online. She especially enjoys using music therapy for mental and emotional well-being.

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