What is the difference in a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program vs a PhD in Psychology program?

Let’s set the scene here… If you are thinking about earning an online Doctor of Psychology degree, you obviously have earned (or are in the process of earning) your bachelor’s and master’s degree. Congratulations to you for putting in the hard work and effort!

Now, let’s talk about your future… Do you want more? Do you enjoy the satisfaction that additional academic experiences provide? Are you working towards a career change? An increase in salary? A promotion? Or, perhaps, just the personal gratification that a doctorate degree will represent to you, as well as, to your fellow colleagues?

Before beginning a doctorate degree program, ask yourself what your end goal is? How much time are you willing to sacrifice?  Furthermore, and most importantly, what kind of doctorate degree do you need? A PsyD or a PhD? In this text, we will examine the differences.

An online Doctor of Psychology degree, or PsyD, will prepare the student for all aspects of psychology. A professional doctorate degree of this kind focuses primarily on a professional career within the field of psychology in a clinical setting.  This would include private practice psychologists, forensic psychologists or neuropsychologists, just to name a few options to consider.  There are truly so many more!

The PhD in Psychology degree focuses on the field of research or a teaching position at the university or college level. You may choose to research any number of issues related to psychology such as, education or drug and alcohol addiction. In this position, you may be employed by a university or college, or in some instances, those with PhD’s are employed by hospitals, clinics or other research facilities. However, if you decide to pursue a teaching career, you can find positions as a college professor or a consultant, among others.

With either degree option, your online Doctor of Psychology program will take between five and seven years to complete, although the PsyD program is generally shorter and easier to get into than the traditional PhD program.

Depending on your school’s regulations, in some instances, the PsyD program’s emphasis on clinical experience is required in lieu of the doctoral dissertation required by the PhD program. Through the PhD in psychology program, the student must participate in an original research dissertation and presentation.  Keep in mind, however, that some PsyD programs require a dissertation, as well.

So, which degree will suit your needs the best? To summarize, if you would like to conduct research or teach, the PhD program is for you. If your career choice requires a more hands-on approach in a clinical setting, a PsyD program is for you. If you would like to learn more about this field, please see our list for the Best Online Schools for Doctor of Psychology degree programs.