PhD vs PsyD: Which Doctorate Degree Best Meets Your Goals?

Which doctoral degree is most applicable to your education and the career you wish to pursue?

Undoubtedly, this is an important question, and one that requires an important decision. But as with most decisions, a little research can help guide you to the right choice. Read on to explore the options and find your path.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Do you want to prepare for a career at the forefront of psychological research, thought-leadership, and academia?

A PhD in Clinical Psychology is ideal for those who envision working in a research institution, in an administrative setting, or even teaching the next generation of psychologists at a university.

While a PhD is more research-focused, hands-on training is at the heart of each CSPP program and PhD students will receive extensive hands-on training in clinical settings, allowing them to also pursue a career in practicing clinical therapy.

The PhD degree requires 150 units and a minimum of five years to complete.

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

If you are more passionate about expanding your knowledge of practical psychology, focusing more on assessing, diagnosing, consulting, and treating your clients in a clinical setting — the PsyD is for you.

The PsyD doctoral degree program was developed in the middle of the 20th century for graduate students who were seeking to specialize as clinical psychologists and apply their expertise to better serve their clients. One of the nation’s first free standing schools of professional psychology, we pioneered the professional practice model at the core of this program. Today, PsyD programs are offered throughout the nation’s top psychology universities — but nothing beats the original.

The PsyD degree requires 120 units and a minimum of four years to complete.

Similarities between PhD and PsyD Degrees

Both PhD and PsyD curricula were developed with the passion, care, quality, and focus on hands-on training found in all CSPP programs. Choosing the right doctoral program is important, but either path you choose will share the following characteristics for which CSPP is known:

  1. Both programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  2. Students can tailor their curriculum to match their particular interests and career goals by selecting from a series of specializations and emphasis areas.
  3. Both programs reflect California School of Professional Psychology’s hallmark integration of psychological theory and research with extensive, hands-on fieldwork.
  4. All students in our PsyD and PhD in Psychology programs benefit from extensive fieldwork built into the programs. Skills learned in the classroom are quickly put to practice when students begin their professional training experiences. Our training sites offer invaluable real-world training in a variety of settings with a wide range of patient populations.
  5. Through the lens of inclusivity and social responsibility, both doctoral programs emphasize the application of knowledge and skills needed to become a compassionate, culturally-competent practitioner.
  6. Both require the completion of a dissertation.
  7. The curricula for the Clinical Psychology PhD and PsyD Programs feature four important areas of study:
    • Foundations of psychology
    • Clinical and professional theory and skills
    • Applied clinical research
    • Professional growth
  8. Students in both Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programs acquire mastery of knowledge-, research- and practice-based competencies in seven areas:
    • Interpersonal/Relational
    • Assessment
    • Multimodal Intervention
    • Research and Evaluation
    • Consultation/Teaching
    • Management/Supervision/Training
    • Quality Assurance
  9. The culminating clinical training component of the clinical psychology doctoral degree is the doctoral internship. Beginning in the first year and continuing throughout the program, CSPP doctoral students are primed for the forthcoming internship process. The Offices of Professional Training faculty and staff provide continuous support as students build their clinical training experiences, and guide students across all phases of the internship application, interview, and acceptance process. Throughout every step of the program, faculty actively work with students to develop competitive applications for APA-accredited internships that help them move toward their educational and professional goals.

And if you still can’t decide which doctoral degree program best matches your goals, we are here to help. Contact an Alliant admissions counselor for more information about PhD and PsyD degrees.