How do I get a PhD in Psychology?

Elva K.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology is typically earned by individuals who hope to work as either college professors, mental health therapists, or mental health assessment specialists. Their work entails teaching, psychological counseling of individuals, intelligence assessment, visual-motor assessment, social-emotional assessment, academic assessment, or assessment of adaptive functioning. If you are interested in getting a PhD in psychology, you will first want to get a college degree so you will be in a position to pursue a PhD in psychology.

Unlike a psychiatrist, a psychologist does not hold a medical degree and cannot prescribe medication.
Unlike a psychiatrist, a psychologist does not hold a medical degree and cannot prescribe medication.

The path to getting a PhD in psychology can be a challenging one. In college, you can select any major; however, it is helpful to choose an undergraduate major in psychology simply because it will expose you to the topics you will be studying in your psychology courses in graduate school. Also, if you hope to eventually get a doctorate in psychology, it would be a good idea to do a psychology-related internship during your undergraduate years.

For example, the undergraduate psychology internship could involve working as a research assistant to a professor. Or, it could involve working in a mental health center as an office assistant. By contrast, it could also involve doing work at the university counseling center where you would function as an assistant to one of the counselors.

You will most likely seek a psychology-related job during the final semester of college. The career services center at your college will likely be able to help you locate jobs you can apply for. In addition, your psychology professors could be a source of assistance since they are likely to be aware of open psychology jobs. In some cases, it might be possible for you to get a job at the same place you did your college internship.

Once you get a job, you could work for two years to gain psychology experience to put on your resume. Then, you could take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), get letters of recommendation, and apply to a graduate program that would enable you to get a PhD in psychology. Of note, there are many graduate psychology programs out there with many different focuses.

Thus, it will be necessary for you to identify the graduate psychology program that would be the best fit for you given factors such as how much money you have to pay for graduate school, the extent to which you will need scholarship money to help you pay for graduate school, the particular subcategory of psychology you want to specialize in, the particular doctoral research you are interested in pursuing for your dissertation, and the work setting you prefer. When you consider these issues, you will find that there are schools that will tend to be a better match for your particular budget and interests. Also, you will find that the professors at certain schools tend to have similar research interests to what you want to pursue while professors at other schools will be going in different directions.

After you find the right school, if you apply and are selected to be in the PhD in psychology program, at that point it becomes a matter of simply going to the school to complete the PhD in psychology. While there, work hard, get good grades, participate in research, and successfully complete a dissertation. These steps communicate to prospective employers that you have the necessary skills and stamina to succeed in a psychology job.

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