What Degree Do You Need to Get a PhD in Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

What Degree Do You Need to Get a PhD in Psychology?

If you are considering pursuing a career in psychology and have aspirations of becoming a licensed psychologist or conducting research in the field, obtaining a PhD is crucial. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest level of education you can achieve in the field of psychology.

But what degree do you need to get a PhD in psychology? Let’s explore the educational journey required to earn this prestigious degree.

Undergraduate Degree

The first step towards earning a PhD in psychology is completing an undergraduate degree. Most doctoral programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology or a related field. While it is not mandatory to major in psychology during your undergraduate studies, having a background in the subject can provide you with foundational knowledge and skills that are beneficial for further studies.

Master’s Degree

After completing your undergraduate studies, you may consider pursuing a master’s degree in psychology. While some doctoral programs accept students directly from their bachelor’s program, having a master’s degree can enhance your application and make you more competitive. Additionally, earning a master’s degree allows you to gain specialized knowledge and expertise in your chosen area of psychology.

Doctoral Program

Once you have obtained an undergraduate or master’s degree, it is time to enroll in a doctoral program specializing in psychology. The two main types of doctoral degrees offered are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). While both degrees lead to licensure as psychologists, they differ primarily in their focus and career paths.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • A PhD program focuses on research and academia.
  • It typically involves conducting original research, writing a dissertation, and publishing scholarly articles.
  • PhD graduates often pursue careers in academia, research institutions, or as independent researchers.

The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

  • A PsyD program emphasizes clinical practice and applied psychology.
  • While research is still a component of the program, it is not as extensive as in a PhD program.
  • PsyD graduates commonly work in clinical settings, providing therapy and psychological assessments to clients.

Licensing and Certification

After completing your doctoral program, you will need to obtain licensure to practice as a psychologist. Licensing requirements vary by state or country, so it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations in the location where you intend to practice. Additionally, some psychologists choose to pursue specialized certifications to demonstrate their expertise in particular areas of psychology.

In Conclusion

Earning a PhD in psychology requires dedication, perseverance, and a strong educational foundation. Starting with an undergraduate degree, progressing to a master’s degree, and finally enrolling in a doctoral program will set you on the path towards becoming a licensed psychologist or researcher. Whether you choose the research-focused PhD route or the clinically-oriented PsyD path, both degrees offer rewarding opportunities for making significant contributions to the field of psychology.