Graduate School Q and A

Q: I've been hearing about another option called a PsyD. What is it and how is it different from the Ph.D.?

A: Although there are several differences between the PsyD and the PhD, the most glaring difference is that the PhD is considered a research degree while the PsyD is more of a professional or applied degree.

I can't tell you how many students (even current graduate students) are surprised to hear that the PhD is truly a research degree, but it's true. I've heard so many clinical and/or counseling psychology graduate students complain about having to conduct research, claiming that they shouldn't have to conduct research since they're training to be therapists. (More about this later. Please read the answer to that question)

If you go to a clinical or counseling PhD program you can expect a blend of research and practice, but make no mistake about it - if you go to a PhD program, expect to learn how to do research.

The PsyD program, however, is not a research degree but a professional degree. According to the APA, The PsyD degree, first awarded in the last 1960's, but increasing in popularity among professional schools, is a professional degree in psychology (similar to the M.D. in medicine). Programs awarding the PsyD degree place major emphasis on preparing their graduates for professional practice as practitioner-scholars, and less extensive research training. Presently about 75% of the doctoral degrees in psychology are Ph.D. degrees.