Difference Between PhD and PsyD

PhD vs PsyD

The major difference between PhD and PsyD is in the focus of both courses of study and the methods you will have to follow when reading for the doctoral degree in Psychology. It is a bit confusing for students desirous of completing a doctoral level degree in psychology, as after completing their graduation, they find that they have the option of either doing PhD or PsyD. While a PhD is a known doctoral degree in vogue in many subjects, many are not aware of PsyD. Both PhD and PsyD train a student in clinical psychology, but where PhD focuses on research, PsyD is a course that has been designed to emphasize on clinical practice, which is what the main aim of students pursuing higher studies in psychology is. There are some more differences between these two degrees that will be highlighted in this article.

Both PhD and PsyD have similar requirements in the sense that both require presentation of a doctoral dissertation, 4-7 years of study, internship, and a license to work as a PhD in Psychology or PsyD. Whether one does a PhD or PsyD, he has to work with individuals, groups, families, institutions, hospitals, schools, offices and religious sectors as consultants. However, both can march ahead in academic sector should they so desire.

What is PhD?

A PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. It is the highest academic degree. All students had to do PhD if they desire to qualify as a scientist, or wanted to be a professional. PhD is the doctorate level degree offered to any subject area. That means if you are following science subjects you will be offered the same degree. However, at the end you will have the ‘in Science’ part. That means your degree will be Doctor of Philosophy in Science. Since we are focusing on the subject of Psychology, if you are following a PhD in Psychology, the title of your degree will be Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology. As the word philosophy implies, this degree demands you to be conducting researches. So, if you are a curious person, who would like to know more about how people think and feel, this degree is ideal for you. People who have followed PhD in Psychology have become sociologists, lecturers of colleges or universities, anthropologists, etc.

Difference Between PhD and PsyD

Kingston University offers PhD

What is PsyD?

PsyD stands for Doctor of Psychology. PsyD is a relatively new degree that came into existence because of growing concern that a simple PhD was not sufficient to produce psychologists ready for clinical practice. All these voices were heard at Veil conference in 1973. There, it was decided to introduce a course called PsyD as it was felt that the subject of psychology had grown well enough to be able to produce trained clinical scientists that could function as practitioners. So, PsyD is a degree especially designed for those who want to be clinical psychologists. That means, it gives more time for actually interacting with patients as a normal psychologist would do. If you are really good at listening actively, critical thinking, and also have high effective communication skills, you should choose a PsyD. People who follow PsyD end up being school psychologists, counseling psychologists, private practice psychologists, etc. They can even choose an academic career.

 PhD vs PsyD

Grand Canyon University offers PsyD

What is the difference between PhD and PsyD?

• When a student completing PsyD gets the title of Doctor of Psychology, a student finishing PhD is called a Doctor of Philosophy. If you were following Psychology as the degree subject, then it would say Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology.

• The most obvious and logical difference between PsyD and PhD is that while PhD emphasizes research more, the course of PsyD has been designed keeping in mind those who would work as clinical psychologists. This is why students of PsyD receive training in psychological testing much more than students who opt for PhD. This is also because of the fact that students completing PsyD are expected to work in different environs and settings, whereas a vast majority of students pursuing PhD have made up their mind to go for an academic career.

• Another difference that many who are aspiring for a doctoral degree are not aware of is, the fact that PhD programs attract more grants and aids from various Universities than PsyD programs. This may be because universities view research being conducted in psychology as a work of the university. On the other hand, it is a common perception that motive of PsyD students is personal gain as they want to practice as clinical psychologist.

• Despite their differences, APA (American Psychological Association) offers accreditation to both PhD and PsyD programs if they maintain the standards developed by APA. Also, the perception that those pursuing PsyD cannot enter academic circles is wrong as many PsyD can be seen working in Universities, and other educational settings.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Kingston University by  Foundert Foundert (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Grand  Canyon University by GrandCanyonU (CC BY-SA 3.0)