counselor talking with patient

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. Clinical psychology provides many career opportunities, You can receive training as a clinical psychologist, work in social work, sports psychology, educational psychology, mental health psychology and more. Now, what is the next step?

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…

Advance Your Career

PhD in Clinical Psychology

The PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, degree, is traditionally a more 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. Depending on the school, 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.

Request Information

How to Choose Between PhD and PsyD

Understanding the difference between a PsyD vs PhD can be confusing. Which program you choose depends on the direction you’d like to steer your studies and, ultimately, your career. There are many opportunities with both pathways. 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. Most importantly, 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 by calling 1-866-825-5426 to learn more about our PsyD or PhD degree programs and the admission requirements.

Additionally, Alliant International University offers many bachelor’s degree programs and master’s degree programs at our college campuses and online. Check out some testimonials from our graduate students of the programs and their experience below:

“I am so grateful to have been a part of the Fresno Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at CSPP. The diverse faculty that I studied with throughout my tenure in graduate school made quite a lasting impression on me in terms of fostering my professional development and have helped shape me into the clinician and researcher that I am today.”  Jennifer Lewey, Clinical Psychology, PhD

“The Psy.D. program at Alliant prepared me in two different ways. First, it socialized me into the profession of psychology. Second, it, and the Center for Integrative Psychology more specifically, taught me how to think in more powerful, inclusive, and effective ways.”   Michael Lembaris, Clinical Psychology, PsyD


What will your impact be?

Return to Top