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What Are the Different Types of PsyD Degree Programs?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Different types of PsyD degree programs include those that offer specialization in different types of professional psychology practice or services to specific populations. In addition, some PsyD degree programs are offered through universities, while others can be earned through professional psychology schools. The differences between a degree earned at a university versus that earned through a professional school can be significant, so it is generally a good idea for a potential student to evaluate the differences between both types of PsyD degree programs before applying or enrolling in a school.

The PsyD is a professional degree designed for individuals who wish to become practicing clinical, educational, or counseling psychologists. Unlike the PhD in psychology, which often has a very strong bent toward academic research, the PsyD is geared toward helping students get a significant amount of clinical experience treating clients. This can make the degree much more appropriate for those who have no desire to teach psychology or perform research, but who would rather work directly with clients by offering psychotherapy or conducting psychological testing.

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Some PsyD degree programs offer students the opportunity to concentrate their education on an area of professional practice. For example, a student who is interested in working with children may be able to enroll in a program that provides both coursework and clinical practice working with teenagers. Others may be interested in forensics and may be able to gear their studies toward working with individuals who are currently in the criminal justice system.

Critics of PsyD degree programs have sometimes noted that PsyD programs are often offered by professional schools that charge high tuition and do not have the strong academic standards of university-based PhD programs. In response, some universities now offer students a choice of completing a PsyD or PhD program. At such schools, PsyD students may be expected to engage in significantly more academic research than they would at a professional school.

One advantage to students who do attend a university-based program is that they may be able to complete their education at a significantly lower cost. Universities often have endowments that allow them to subsidize a student’s education in ways that a private, professional school cannot. Students who are particularly interested in clinical work will still need to evaluate the curriculum offered in a university-based program, however, so as to ensure that they can get the amount of practical experience that they want prior to graduating and applying for licensure.

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