If you’re interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology, obtaining a PhD in the field can be an important step. A PhD is typically required to become a licensed clinical psychologist and is also necessary for many academic and research positions. Here are the steps you can take to earn your PhD in clinical psychology:

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to earning a PhD in clinical psychology is to earn your bachelor’s degree. While this degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in psychology, it’s important to have some background knowledge of the field. Many students choose to major in psychology or a related discipline such as sociology or neuroscience.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Experience is crucial when it comes to pursuing advanced degrees in psychology. Consider volunteering at local mental health clinics, hospitals, or research labs as an undergraduate student. This experience will not only look great on your application but will also help you decide if clinical psychology is the right path for you.

Step 3: Research Graduate Programs

Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree and gained some experience, start researching graduate programs in clinical psychology. Look for programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and offer opportunities for research and clinical training.


Consider factors such as location, cost, program length, and faculty expertise when choosing which programs to apply to.

Step 4: Apply to Graduate Programs

After researching graduate programs, it’s time to apply! Most programs require GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and sometimes an interview. Be sure to carefully read each program’s requirements and deadlines before applying.


Consider applying to multiple programs to increase your chances of acceptance.

Step 5: Complete Graduate Coursework and Clinical Training

Once you’ve been accepted to a graduate program, you’ll spend the next several years completing coursework and clinical training. Coursework typically covers topics such as psychopathology, assessment and diagnosis, research methods, and interventions. Clinical training involves working with patients under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.


Take advantage of opportunities to conduct research or complete an internship during your graduate program to gain additional experience.

Step 6: Complete Your Dissertation

The final step in earning your PhD in clinical psychology is completing your dissertation. This involves conducting original research and writing a lengthy document that outlines your findings. Your dissertation will be reviewed by a committee of faculty members who will determine if you have met all of the requirements for graduation.


Choose a dissertation topic that reflects your interests and aligns with the research expertise of your faculty advisors.

In conclusion, earning a PhD in clinical psychology requires dedication, hard work, and significant experience and education. However, with careful planning and preparation, it’s possible to achieve this important career goal.