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What's the Difference between a PhD and PsyD in Clinical Psychology

Congratulations! You’ve made the tough yet worthwhile decision to pursue a doctorate education in clinical psychology. Now what?

Before you dive into doctoral training, you’ll need to clarify what type of degree you’d like to earn. In the field of Clinical Psychology, there are two distinctive doctorate-level degrees you can work towards: a PhD and a PsyD. What do these degrees mean and how do you choose which degree program is right for you? Find out more below…

PhD in Clinical Psychology

The PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, degree, is a more traditional and common degree path in psychology. This degree is founded in research, so the focus of your studies will be on developing research ideas, conducting experiments, and analyzing data. This training culminates in the completion of a doctoral dissertation project. Typical PhD training takes between 5 and 7 years to complete. These programs may be highly selective and only enroll a small number of students each year.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology

The PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, degree, is an alternative degree that focuses on the clinical and applied aspects of psychology. PsyD study revolves around preparing students for professional practice. The coursework is directed at applying established standards of practice and evidence-based services. PsyD students also complete a doctoral project or dissertation that focuses on an applied clinical problem. Typical PsyD training takes between 4 and 5 years to complete. These programs generally accept a higher number of students than PhD programs.

How to Choose Between PhD and PsyD

Which program you choose depends on the direction you’d like to steer your studies and, ultimately, your career. Think about what sort of work you’d like to do beyond graduation: research-focused or clinical-focused. Take a look at what graduates of the program are doing to see if their careers align with your own interests.

All things considered, PhD graduates may use their research-based degrees to conduct experimental studies, work in academic settings, and consult with schools or hospitals. PsyD graduates may use their clinical-based degrees to work directly with patients who need clinical psychology services. All students enrolled in Alliant International University Clinical Psychology programs receive advanced training in psychology to allow them to confidently function as clinicians and researchers. In addition, both our PhD and PsyD programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA.)

Are you conflicted about which Clinical Psychology degree is the best fit for you? Contact an Alliant admissions counselor call 1-866-825-5426 to learn more about our PsyD or PhD degree programs.


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