How do I get a Child Psychiatry Degree?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2019
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In most cases people can’t earn a child psychiatry degree. There are no specific college level studies that result in this. People can earn child psychology degrees or they can become child psychiatrists by getting a bachelor’s degree, medical degree and then completing internships in psychiatry and child psychiatry programs. These internships are not considered degrees, though they allow people to become board certified in this specialty of medicine.

When people mean child psychology degree, the path to this is fairly clear. After exiting high school students should find a good general psychology program, earning either a BS or BA degree. They will then need to apply to graduate school and they should look for those programs with emphasis or specialization in child psychology.

Theoretically, child psychologist is not a legally protected term, and any psychologist may treat children, but some doctoral programs do have specialized study tracts that focus on child and adolescent psychology. Attending one of these is highly recommended, and people can earn several potential degrees with this specialization, called the PhD, Psy.D or Ed.D. Doctoral programs typically take three to five years, though some may take as long as seven years to complete.


The path to earning a “child psychiatry degree” or ability to gain board certification in this medical specialty is very different. People will begin with an undergraduate degree in one of the sciences or in fields like pre-med; this may be a little different in places like the UK where the undergraduate degree and medical programs are joined together. In the US, folks complete a four-year degree, take medical college entrance exam tests (MCAT) and then attend a medical school for four years.

At this point, a person has earned an MD or DO (doctor of osteopathy), can decide to specialize, and will need to find a residency program to study psychiatry. This is general psychiatry and provides a good foundation for further specialization. After about a three to four year residency, the person can continue to specialize by studying adolescent and child psychiatry for two more year. This part of the training is essentially the child psychiatry degree, though it isn't so named. Depending on region, the person who has earned this equivalent of a child psychiatry degree will then need to complete paperwork and possibly exams to earn board certification.

With certification, which is somewhat similar to having a degree, people can claim to be child and adolescent psychiatrists and they may work in a variety of locations. Some staff hospitals for mentally ill or mentally challenged children, others work on a consultancy basis to treat children who are hospitalized for other reasons, and some work directly in the community giving medical and other forms of therapy to children. Claim to expertise is certainly recognized, given the extensive study, about 13 years counting undergraduate work, most people in this field complete.



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