For years, getting a PhD was the highest achievement in the academic world. Beginning in the 1970’s however, the Psy.D became a more popular avenue in the world of higher education psychology. The two degrees are both prestigious degrees that are earned through exceptional academic performance and dedication to the field. Dependent on your career aspirations, a Psy.D might be more beneficial than a PhD even though most people strive for a PhD because of the name. Nowadays you can receive a PhD degree through an online program or pursue a Psy.D online program. While both are valid degrees, they vary in experience and structure. Here are some reasons you might choose a Psy.D over a PhD:
Early Clinical Experiences
Psy.D programs emphasize clinical practice as the most important aspect of earning the degree. If you go for a PhD you will focus mainly on research in the field before beginning to actually participate in fieldwork. By opting to complete a Psy.D, you will be able to try out varying practices within the field so that you can decide on a concentration or a post-graduation career path. Many people find that practice-based knowledge is the best knowledge you can have. These experiences can also serve as resume boosters and networking connections to people that hold high positions within the field.
Slightly Shorter Program
No matter which degree you choose, you’re going to be going to school for a minimum of four years. No matter if you pursue a PsyD online program or through a traditional learning method, higher education is going to be a commitment. A PhD will take 5-7 years to complete whereas a PsyD program ranges from 4-6 years for completion.This is beneficial, allowing you to move in to your career a bit quicker than you would if you pursued a PhD.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Again, PsyD programs focus much more on physical practice and clinical experiences than traditional PhD programs. The PsyD curriculum will prepare you to become an effective practitioner whereas a PhD focuses more on psychological literature. You will have to write a dissertation in order to graduate from the PsyD program, just as you would from a PhD program, but it will be largely based on experience and personal research.
Get More Than One Degree
PsyD programs can be paired with other degrees to combine two field of interest. PhD’s don’t have this flexibility. Many popular combinations include PsyD/MA, PsyD/MBA, and PsyD/Med.
Both PhD programs and PsyD programs are prestigious and will set you up for a successful career in the psychology field. Here is a summary of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programs versus Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Programs.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programs:
· Large emphasis on academic research
· Will take a few years longer than PsyD
· More well-known than PsyD
· Multitude of financial aid and stipends available for students
· Plenty of internships available for students
· Research training
· Some applied clinical experience, but later in the program
· 75% of doctorate degrees in psychology
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Programs:
· First became popular in the 1970’s
· Similar to study of medicine (MD)
· Much more emphasis on clinical experience
· Program is a few years shorter than PhD
· Earlier clinical experience compared to PhD programs
- Valuable internship opportunities
· Need to do more research to find out what accreditation schools carry
· Emphasize preparation for career placement
Considering all of the factors, one degree is no better than the other even though a PhD might be the more popular degree today. The programs have nearly the same outcome but prepare you for your career by use of a different learning structure. Your choice in degree will depend largely on your career aspirations and necessary experience requirements.