PsyD versus PhD in Psychology
So you’re a psychology major thinking about whether to pursue a PsyD versus a PhD in Psychology? Well, let me describe each and hopefully you will be a little bit better informed to make your decision. The basic difference comes down to practice (PsyD) versus research (PhD). That being said, some PhD programs do tend to have a bigger clinical focus. I’m told that the Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology ranks programs on their clinical focus. They come out with a new version every year and it can be bought on Amazon for less than $20 (and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it).
For Psychology Majors interested in a PhD
I have to confess that I’m a big fan of statistics. I tutored stats off and on for 3 years throughout my undergraduate study and my name badge had an equation on it that read: 1- beta (which was kind of an inside joke, because that means “statistical power”). So basically, PhD programs are full of people like me (I’m writing from home today because most of my lab-mates are out of town at a statistical software conference). If all of this interests you, then a PhD program will probably be a good fit for you. I really like my experiences with the psychology research community so far (lame jokes aside). For the most part it’s a group of highly intelligent individuals with good social skills who act professionally but know how to kick back and have fun too. Attending conferences is great way to network, present your research, and get to travel in the process. One of the most important perks of a PhD program in Psychology is that most APA accredited programs are fully funded, meaning that you won’t have to pay tuition and you will receive a teaching or research assistantship. Assistantships usually pay a stipend of about $20,000.00 or so per year (depending on the program and the area). So, you won’t be going out and buying a sports car anytime soon, but you should be able to graduate without significant debt. If you look at the cost of attending medical school or law school, this is really a huge bonus.
For Psychology Majors interested in a PsyD
I’m quite obviously not as knowledgeable about PsyD degrees (and am admittedly biased in favor of the PhD), so it would be good for you to talk to an adviser if you think this would be a good fit for you. It’s my understanding that a PsyD degree is for the most part meant to prepare psychology students for practice in psychology. The focus will be on training relevant to conduct assessments, provide treatment and diagnosis of mental disorders, and provide psycho-therapeutic services. The upside to these programs is that they are not as competitive as PhD program. The downside is that they have faced some criticism for letting in too many applicants (thereby lowering the quality and reputation of the degree). Another downside is that tuition costs are out-of-pocket.