If you’re trying to work out what you need to study in order to pursue a career as a psychologist then you may have heard that you need a PhD in Psychology.
But what exactly is a PhD in Psychology and is this the only option available to you if you’d like to become a psychologist?
Let’s start off by answering the first questions before talking about your options.
What Is A PhD in Psychology?
The quickest way to understand what the PhD stands for is to break it up into it’s two components
Ph = Philosophy
D = Doctor
So a Ph.D is a Doctorate in Philosophy and it is the oldest Doctorate and most common path to becoming a psychologist.
At a rough estimate around 75% of all certified psychologists have a PhD.
Is A PhD Degree In Psychology The Only Way To Become A Psychologist?
The statistic above gives this one away – if around 75% of all psychologists have their PhD…what have the other 25% got?
There is another way you can become a psychologist. You’ll still need to earn your Doctorate, but instead of studying for your PhD degree, you will earn yourself a PsyD in Psychology.
PsyD vs PhD – What’s The Difference?
Over the past few decades there has been some fairly large growth in the field of clinical psychology where the psychologist spends the bulk of their time helping people overcome problems associated with various mental disorders or behavioral problems.
Often times these clinical psychologists have very little interest in the research/academic side of psychology.
The PhD is very much geared towards this research aspect, so in the early 1970′s a new type of Doctorate came into being which was focused more on the clinical aspects – the PsyD.
So essentially the kind of study required to become a psychologist split into two different strands depending on which area you wanted to work in.
If you were more interested in research studies and the scientific applications of that research then you would more than likely follow the PhD path.
But if you were more interested in a career as a practicing clinical psychologist, helping patients directly deal with their own psychological disorders, then the PsyD may be more geared to your needs.
The good thing about this is that your decision doesn’t have to be made straight away because you actually need to complete your undergraduate degree before you can even think about starting your Doctorate.
This then gives you plenty of opportunities to talk to people who are working within your field of interest, as well as professors who are proving you with your education.
From these discussions and the advice they provide, you’ll be in a much better position to make the decision about which path to follow.
In the end, the question of PsyD vs PhD in psychology will come down to the sort of psychology career that you see yourself pursuing.
Do you want to help people in a clinical or counseling setting, or are you more interested in furthering the broad knowledge of psychology through various research studies.
In all likelihood the answer to that question will only truly come to you after your study has begun and you have a greater understanding of these two options.