The psychology field offers a breadth of specialties and applications. Some professionals with a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology work as researchers, while others work as practitioners in a clinical setting. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes various psychology subfields, including clinical, education, developmental, and industrial/organizational psychology.
An online psychology degree allows learners to pursue their doctorate flexibly and affordably. Students typically need at least a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field to enter a Ph.D. in psychology program. While some doctoral programs require a master's, many offer a curriculum that includes a master's degree.
When it comes to job outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for psychologists to grow 3% between 2019-2029. Psychologists earn an annual median salary of $80,370, according to the BLS, far exceeding the $39,810 annual wage for all workers.
This guide ranks Ph.D. in psychology programs and provides information on coursework, professional organizations, and scholarship opportunities.
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Students usually take 4-7 years to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. This includes an internship that provides hands-on experience.
Earning a Ph.D. in psychology gives students the education and training needed for practice. Graduates must also pass a state or national exam and meet other states' licensure requirements to practice as a psychologist.
You do not need a master's degree to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Many programs include a master's degree curriculum that determines enrollees' readiness for doctoral studies.
Ph.D. in psychology programs require at least a four-year commitment beyond the bachelor's degree.
Best Online Ph.D. in Psychology 2021
Baylor University was chartered in 1845 in Waco, Texas as a private Christian university. Today’s 2,611 graduate/professional students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 115 major fields. The 78-hour PhD psychology degree program requires completion of 37 core courses, and specialty concentrations in behavioral neuroscience, social psychology, and general experimental psychology. Students must declare and pursue a minor, or may substitute nine hours of elective courses. Program applicants are required to hold a bachelor degree and a minimum GRE total score of 300. Applications are due the second week of January.
The doctoral program for psychology offered at Boston University may be worth considering for any graduate student who wishes to further their education. Students from over 130 countries have travelled to study in one of the 250 fields offered at Boston University. The students at BU run more than 450 clubs and organizations, allowing for a rich educational community. Students who wish to expand their cultural understanding may be interested in applying for one of BU’s numerous study abroad programs, which are spread throughout 26 different countries. On average, qualifying students are awarded almost $30,000 in financial aid.
Fordham University was established as a Catholic, Jesuit institution in 1841. Currently, it serves 6,431 graduate students. Fordham’s graduate programs in psychology are only open to full-time students. The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program (CPDP) is based on the Boulder Scientist-Practitioner training model emphasizing theories and practice of assessment and diagnosis with a strong laboratory component. During the first two years, doctoral students must complete courses in cognitive assessment, personality assessment, psychopathology, and clinical diagnosis. Supervised practicum experiences are taken in the second, third and fourth years. Specializations include: Child and Family, Forensic, Neuropsychology, and Health.
Loma Linda University, a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution focused on health sciences, admitted its first nursing students in 1905 in California. Today’s university campus includes the school as well as the Loma Linda University Medical Center. The PhD in Clinical Psychology degree program takes six years to complete, including a required internship. Based on the scientist-practitioner model, the doctoral curriculum combines research and practice. The practicum is designed to provide supervised internships across a range of practice areas in multidisciplinary settings. Students can choose from optional concentration areas in clinical child psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology.
Since 1959, the PhD in clinical psychology from the Loyola University Chicago has been fully accredited by the American Psychological Association—the leading professional organization in the United States that represents the field of psychology. The goal of the PhD program is to provide its student with a strong education in the practice and theory of clinical psychology as well as in general psychology. The course takes four to five years of studies with a minimum of 72-hours of coursework. GRE test scores are required with application. Applicants are narrowed down and invited to interview, and only 35 students are admitted to the program.
What sets Pennsylvania State University’s psychology department apart from other universities are its veritable choices of doctorate degrees in psychology. Prospective students have the option of pursuing graduate studies in social, developmental, cognitive, industrial-organizational, and clinical (adult and child) psychology. Students should note that having an undergraduate psychology degree, without an MS degree, can still qualify them for a place in the PhD program. Students without a master’s degree can choose to earn one adjacent to the PhD in this program. This is a full-time program, so this degree is not for working students.
In 1888, Temple College was founded in Philadelphia. Today, Temple University has grown to include 17 schools and colleges in eight locations, serving more than 38,000 students. Of those, more than 100 graduate students are enrolled in graduate psychology degree programs. The Clinical Psychology Program prepares doctoral students for careers in research, education, and scientific clinical professions. Some 60-70 PhD program applicants are invited to campus admissions interviews each January. Applicants are encouraged to take the GRE Advanced Test. The PhD program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS).
Students attending the psychology program at Texas A&M University may choose between six areas of concentration, including behavioral and cellular neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and social and personality psychology. TAMU combines the science and practice of psychology to help students learn, research, apply knowledge, solve problems, and promote healthy human development. The school admits approximately 100 students into the psychology PhD program, and a low student-teacher ratio is maintained so students can receive personalized counsel and develop professional and research skills.
Since 1949, the clinical psychology program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville has been accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. The program is based on the Tennessee Model, which regards practice and research as similar enterprises, and trains highly competent students to become clinical psychologists and contribute to their field as teachers, clinicians, and researchers. Students receive a balanced education in research, psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and teaching, and are provided internship opportunities in addition to innovative curriculum. Admission is based on a rigorous selection process, after which between seven and nine students are chosen.
The department of psychology at the University at Buffalo offers several PhD programs. Doctoral students may choose to enroll in the behavioral neuroscience program, the cognitive psychology program, the clinical psychology program or the social-personality program. The doctoral degree psychology program is research-based. Admitted applicants typically score within the 81st percentile on the GRE verbal and the 68th percentile on the GRE quantitative. Students do not need an undergraduate degree or graduate degree in psychology to be accepted to the program. PhD students may pursue the teaching assistantship opportunities offered at the University at Buffalo.
What Are the Goals of a Psychology Degree?
Learners seeking a doctoral psychology degree can pursue a Ph.D. in psychology or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.). The Ph.D. focuses heavily on research while the Psy.D. prepares learners to apply research in a clinical setting.
Psychology offers various specialization areas, including human factors, forensic, and animal psychology. All psychology doctoral students complete foundational coursework such as developmental psychology, psychopathology, and advanced statistics.
Why Get a Psychology Degree?
Many students pursue a psychology degree to prepare for a career as a clinician. Some plan to pursue research roles within organizations or universities. See below for five benefits of earning a psychology degree.
- Many Specializations
- Learners can choose one of many APA-recognized specialties and subspecialties, including newer categories such as sleep psychology, rehabilitation psychology, and clinical psychopharmacology.
- Good Pay and Job Prospects
- Psychologists earn an annual median salary of $80,370. The BLS projects jobs for psychologists to grow 3% between 2019-2029.
- Transferable Skills
- Psychologists possess fine-tuned research and analytical skills they can apply in non-academic fields such as consulting, product development, and market research.
- Teaching the Next Generation
- A Ph.D. in psychology equips professionals to work in higher education. Some may choose to engage in clinical practice and also teach students.
- A Helping Profession
- Those who plan to work as clinicians play an integral role in helping others overcome emotional and mental challenges.
What Are the Requirements for a Psychology Degree?
While specific requirements vary by program, many share common expectations. For example, graduate schools typically require a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. Prospective students must also demonstrate an academic readiness for graduate school. Performance in coursework such as psychology, statistics, and research methodology help establish learners' aptitude level.
All Ph.D. in psychology programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Some Ph.D. programs include a master's-level curriculum. The master's coursework counts toward the Ph.D. but could also serve as a terminal degree depending on the student's performance. Enrollees complete an internship/clinical component that state licensing authorities require for licensure as a psychologist.
Professional Organizations for Psychology Students
Professional organizations provide students pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology with a wealth of resources, including access to research and publications, networking activities, and funding opportunities. See below for three professional organizations for students and practitioners in psychology.
American Psychological AssociationAPA serves 122,000 members that include clinicians, researchers, and students. Doctoral students can join at a reduced cost. Member benefits include access to a graduate student network, career support, and discounts on books, journals, and databases.
Association for Psychological ScienceAPS works to advance scientific psychology across various disciplines. The association publishes some of the field's leading journals and offers member benefits such as access to the latest research, mentorship, awards and grant opportunities, and discounted subscriptions. APS offers graduate student affiliate membership for those pursuing a master's or doctorate.
PSI CHIAn international psychology honor society, PSI CHI requires a one-time fee for lifetime membership. Membership confers international recognition for academic performance. Benefits include access to awards and scholarships, a career center, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
Scholarships for Psychology Students
Scholarships, grants, and fellowships help students fund their education and do not require repayment. Common eligibility criteria include financial need and academic performance. Fellowships typically provide financial aid for those pursuing research. See below for scholarships, grants, and a fellowship for psychology students.
Who Can Apply: APA offers various scholarships, grants, and awards. These opportunities include a graduate student ethics writing competition, psychological research grant, and student diversity initiative award. Applicants need APA membership and must meet specific eligibility requirements.
Who Can Apply: The U.S. Navy will pay the tuition and fees for recipients pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Graduates join the Navy as commissioned officers, serving a year for each year of scholarship. Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship, physical fitness, and enrollment in an accredited program.
Amount: Tuition, monthly stipend, and reimbursement for supplies
Who Can Apply: Ph.D. students receive 6-12 months of support to conduct dissertation research in the humanities. Students must engage in dissertation research about indigenous populations such as Native Americans or Alaska Natives. Eligibility requirements include enrollment at a U.S. institution and a thorough research proposal that outlines research design and evidence of training.
Amount: Up to $23,000