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PsyD or PhD in Clinical Psychology - Which Is the Best Choice?

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Psychology is a diverse field, with people finding work in both the classroom and clinical setting. With the amount of diversity found in the career field itself, it's no wonder that a number of graduate degrees are available for those pursuing psychology. On the doctoral level, two of the most popular are the PhD in Clinical Psychology and the PsyD in Clinical Psychology. If you are considering pursuing graduate training in this field, here's what you need to know about your options.

Understand the Fundamental Differences of the Degrees

What’s the difference between a PsyD and a PhD in Clinical Psychology? Both cover the same basic information and material, but in fundamentally different ways. A Doctorate (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology is a degree that focuses on clinical learning and study, rather than research. On the other hand, a Doctorate (PhD) in Clinical Psychology degree focuses strongly on research, including a research project and a doctoral dissertation.

Let’s drill down and take a closer look at the differences. In a PhD program, the learner will perform quite a bit of academic research. On the other hand, a PhD in Clinical Psychology opens the door for a robust number of research-focused internships. Regardless of which APA accredited doctoral program chosen, a student must demonstrate competency in both research and evidence-based clinical practice.

While a PsyD program is not new, less than half of the doctoral level programs in clinical psychology fall within this degree type. It's comparable to an MD in medicine, with much of the work happening in clinical settings rather than in the classroom. While both programs require the same length of academic training, the PhD option does not have as many required internships.

Career Options for PsyD and PhD in Clinical Psychology Degrees

The focus of study leads to the different career options for those who hold each of these degrees. A PhD in Clinical Psychology prepares the learner for a research-based career. This might include working in education, a hospital/medical center or independent practice, where the focus is on research aspects of clinical psychology rather than working directly with patients. Research in this field is constantly changing and growing, and as such, can offer a high-demand career choice.

Those who pursue a PsyD in Clinical Psychology are often found in clinical practice. These are the professionals who work with patients day to day, helping them work through psychological concerns they are facing. PsyD doctors may work in interventions, assessing and diagnosing psychological disorders or in a hospital, medical, or mental health center as a clinical psychologist. Given the large amount of employment opportunities, you could also find these graduates as a school psychologist or within private practice.

Income-Earning Potential

The income-earning potential of the two degrees is fairly similar:

  • Clinical Psychologists (PsyD graduates) have an average salary between $65,000 and $75,000
  • Those who work in research (PhD graduates) have an average salary between $60,000 and $70,000

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for clinical psychologists in all fields is $72,580 per year, with a growing demand for new professionals in this field. This is a well-paying career field with strong income and growth potential, no matter which line of study you pursue.

Which Is Right for You?

Which degree is the right clinical psychology track for you? The answer will depend on where you see yourself working in the future. If you anticipate enjoying a career working with people to help solve their problems in a one-on-one clinical setting, then a PsyD in Clinical Psychology is probably the best fit. However, if you love research or working behind-the-scenes to find solutions to larger problems, rather than working with individual patients, or if you enjoy teaching about the theories and practice of psychology, then a PhD in Clinical Psychology might be the best choice for you.

No matter which of these tracks you choose, you will find an excellent degree program at University of the Cumberlands. For over 125 years, University of the Cumberlands has been providing quality instruction, helping students prepare for careers in clinical practice and in research. Check out the PhD in Psychology and the PsyD in Psychology degrees today, or call 855-791-7201 to discuss your career goals so you can find the right degree program to meet your needs.

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