How Long Does It Take to Get a Clinical Psychology Degree?


Martha Robinson

If you’re considering a career in clinical psychology, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how long it takes to get a degree. The answer isn’t straightforward, as there are several factors that can impact the length of your educational journey.

Undergraduate Education
The first step in becoming a clinical psychologist is completing an undergraduate degree. This typically takes four years for full-time students. While there is no specific major required for admission to graduate programs in clinical psychology, many students choose to major in psychology or a related field.

Graduate Education
After completing your undergraduate degree, you’ll need to earn a graduate degree in clinical psychology. This typically involves completing a master’s degree followed by a doctoral program. The master’s program can take anywhere from 2-3 years, while the doctoral program usually takes 4-6 years.

Clinical Psychology Master’s Programs

During your master’s program, you’ll gain foundational knowledge and skills in clinical psychology. You’ll take courses on topics such as psychological assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy techniques, and research methods. You may also have the opportunity to complete supervised practicum or internship experiences.

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Education (MEd) in Clinical Psychology

Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programs

Once you’ve completed your master’s degree, you can begin your doctoral program in clinical psychology. This is typically a more intensive and specialized course of study that prepares you for licensure and independent practice as a psychologist.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Clinical Psychology
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology

PhD in Clinical Psychology

A PhD program in clinical psychology typically involves a strong emphasis on research and scholarly inquiry. You’ll take courses on advanced research methods, statistics, and data analysis. You’ll also be expected to complete an original research project and write a dissertation.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology

A PsyD program, on the other hand, is more practice-focused. While you’ll still receive training in research methods and statistics, the emphasis is on developing your clinical skills through supervised practicum and internship experiences.

Internship and Licensure
After completing your doctoral program, you’ll need to complete a one-year internship under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. This experience is designed to provide you with hands-on training in clinical practice.

Once you’ve completed your internship, you’ll need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in order to become licensed as a clinical psychologist. This exam assesses your knowledge of ethics, assessment and diagnosis, intervention strategies, and professional issues.

In total, becoming a clinical psychologist can take anywhere from 8-12 years of post-secondary education and supervised experience. While this may seem like a significant investment of time and effort, it’s important to remember that this career can be incredibly rewarding for those who are passionate about helping others improve their mental health and well-being.