PhD In Psychology Requirements

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Doctorate Degree in psychology

Psychology is a broad and varied field that focuses on the human experience and behavior. The PhD in psychology degree, usually offered at public and private research universities, provides rigorous research training designed to prepare graduates for a career in academia or research, or for practice as a licensed clinical psychologist. This degree covers many different aspects of psychology, including perception, cognition, neuroscience, and behavior. While PhD in psychology programs tend to have more of a research focus than their Doctor of Psychology counterparts, PhD programs can also prepare students for licensure in applied psychology, and fulfill most states’ minimum educational requirements.

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Students take courses in various qualitative and quantitative research theories and methodologies and conduct independent research with the supervision of a faculty mentor. The degree can take as little as four years to complete if you already have a master’s degree in a related area or at least five years if you enter the program with a bachelor’s degree, though according to Psychology Today, it more commonly takes between five and seven years to complete.1 Typically, the degree is offered through traditional methods on-campus as there are many hands-on research and teaching requirements.

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After earning a PhD in psychology, graduates will be ready to either work in academic or laboratory settings, conducting research on a variety of subjects and topics to learn about our most basic human functions and behaviors, or to become clinical psychologists, evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients in a private, hospital, or school setting.

Ph.D. in Psychology

Many doctoral degree programs in psychology require applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Other Ph.D. programs require a master’s degree in psychology or a related field of study. Applicants typically must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Many programs request submission of GRE scores, a personal essay or portfolio and letters of recommendation. Interviews may also be part of the admissions process.

Applied Organizational Psychology PhD | Hofstra | New York

Students develop a solid foundation in history and methods of psychology, research methodology and statistics. In addition to courses, students complete original research and write a dissertation. Students in clinical doctoral programs may complete practica and an internship year. Some possible courses include:

  • Psychology theories and practice
  • Psychology and ethics
  • Human development
  • Diagnosing psychopathology
  • Research methodology and statistics

Ph.D. vs. Psy.D.

A Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy, is one of the highest level degrees you can earn in the field of psychology. If you’re considering pursuing a graduate degree, you might be wondering how long it takes to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. Generally, a bachelor’s degree takes four years of study. While a master’s degree requires an additional two to three years of study beyond the bachelor’s, a doctoral degree can take between four to six years of additional graduate study after earning your bachelor’s degree.

Recently, a relatively new degree option known as the Psy.D., or doctor of psychology, has started to grow in popularity as an alternative to the Ph.D.2 The type of degree you decide to pursue depends on a variety of factors including your own interests and your career aspirations.

Before you decide which option is right for you, research your options and decide if a graduate school in psychology is the best choice for you. Depending on your career goals, you might need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology in order to practice in your chosen field. In other instances, a degree in a similar subject such as counseling or social work may be more appropriate.

Do APA Accredited Online PhD Psychology Programs Exist?

Admission Requirements

Applicants to a PhD in psychology program should have an undergraduate degree with in-depth psychology training including laboratory experience, statistics, and research methods. Requirements vary depending on the school, but usually neither a master’s degree nor an undergraduate major in psychology is required as long as all prerequisite courses have been met successfully. The minimum grade point average (GPA) for admittance is typically 3.0, however, the average score of admitted students may be considerably higher as competition can be strong for these upper-level graduate degree programs. Strong performance in math and statistics are considered favorable. GRE scores must be submitted along with transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and references.

Traditional psychology PhD programs tend to be more difficult to enter than PsyD programs, with reportedly only 11% of applicants being admitted each year (compared to 40% of those applying to PsyD programs).4 One reason for this selectivity could be that a high percentage of PhD students in psychology programs depend on funding assistance offered by the school in exchange for the research they conduct via research assistantships; in fact, according to a survey by the APA, 80-100% of PhD in psychology students receive some funding and 60-90% receive full funding (tuition waiver plus stipend).5 Since more students are vying for those assistantships and schools only have a certain number available, a lower percentage of applicants are admitted, making the competition tough.