Best Psychology Doctoral (PsyD) Programs and Schools

Why Consider a Doctorate in Psychology Program ?

Earning a doctoral degree in psychology may be on your radar if you are interested in pursuing potential careers in academics, consulting, research, and as licensed counseling and clinical psychologists[i]. Psychologists study the human brain, cognitive functions, emotional and social behaviors through various techniques and interventions.

In the U.S.A., a doctoral degree such as the Ph.D., Psy.D., and Ed.D. earned from an APA-accredited program may be translate into eligibility to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology examinations in one’s state.

PsyD Degrees

What are PsyD Programs?

You are searching for a terminal degree program in the field of psychology and see you have options including the PsyD (Doctor of Psychology), the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology, and the Education Specialist degree.[iii] While academically similar, there are differences between these degrees – somewhat like different roads, that prospective doctoral students should clarify before embarking on a doctorate in psychology program.

The Doctor of Psychology, abbreviated ‘PsyD, Psy D, or Psy.D. is an applied, clinically-focused doctorate degree somewhat like an MD in medicine. Earning a PsyD degree typically prepares a graduate to fulfill the educational requirements for state licensure; licensure is a requirement for use of the title “psychologist” in most states.[iv]

What is a PhD in Psychology?

The PhD in Psychology is a research doctoral degree in psychology. Earning a PhD Psychology typically prepares graduates to fulfill the educational requirements for state licensure. That said, those who pursue their PhD in psychology may favor academic research or teaching at the university level rather than clinical practice.

Popular Schools with Psychology Doctorate Degrees

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Clinical Developmental PsychologyBryn Mawr CollegePhD
Doctor of Psychology (Psy. D.)Radford UniversityPsyD
Ph.D. and M.A. Programs in Clinical PsychologyHuron International UniversityPhD
Occupational Psychology (Practitioner Doctorate)London Metropolitan UniversityPhD
Organisation Studies and Psychology, Research ProgramsAston UniversityPhD
Psychology Graduate ProgramsRoyal Holloway University of LondonPhD
Clinical PsychologyJackson State UniversityPhD
Doctor of Psychology Combined School Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)Kean UniversityN/A
Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Trauma and Disaster ReliefNational UniversityPhD
Ph.D. in General Psychology: Cognition and Instruction (Qualitative Research)Grand Canyon UniversityN/A
PsyD in PsychologyThe University of Arizona Global CampusN/A
PhD in Behavior AnalysisCapella UniversityPhD
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PsyD Programs vs. Psychology PhD Programs

In terms of potentially counseling clients and practicing in a clinical setting, both the Psy D and the PhD Psychology degrees have equal status and function about the same. Ultimately, your decision may boil down to whether you prefer to learn in a hands-on clinical setting or to conduct research.

7 Potential Admission Requirements for PsyD & PhD Psych Programs

The admission requirements for each psychology school and doctor of psychology program may differ. Some schools may choose candidates that they feel ‘fit’ their schools’ mission in terms of clinical and research experiences. You are always advised to check with the requirements of the specific schools on your list. Potential admission requirements may include:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college
  2. A Master’s degree in psychology, counseling or a mental health field from an accredited university – although sometimes an undergraduate degree may suffice, a master degree might not be needed
  3. GPA scores (varies)
  4. GRE scores (varies)
  5. Letters of recommendation
  6. Interviews, statement of purpose
  7. Fulfilled course prerequisites if applicable


5,277 Research Doctorates and 1,444 Professional Doctorates in Psychology were awarded in 2014?[ii]

Average Time to Completion for Psy D, PhD and EdD degrees:

How long does it take to earn a Doctorate in Psychology? Program lengths for PsyD, Psychology PhD and EdD Psychology Programs may vary between schools and depend on whether you pursue your graduate study on a part-time or full-time basis, among other factors.

  • Ph.D. Psychology: Ph.D. programs might require at least 5 to 7 years to complete. In addition to regular coursework, you may also be expected to complete an internship or supervised residency. The program typically culminates in completing an original research project or dissertation.
  • For a Psy.D. Degree: Most PsyD programs require between 4 to 6 years to complete. PsyD programs typically require a one year internship as part of the doctoral program, as well as a dissertation based on clinical research.
  • For an EdD: Degree: Most EdD programs require between 3 to 5 years to complete. It is important to note that many applicants to EdD programs already hold a master's degree in a related field, while applicants to Ph.D. and PsyD programs often begin their program of study with a bachelor's degree.

Browse our PsyD categories and find your specialty areas:

  • Doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis Programs: Study the science of human behavior, learn how to apply interventions as a potential intervention for individuals with autism;
  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programs: Study psychopathology, mental health issued and diagnostic interventions;
  • Doctorate in Cognitive Psychology Programs: Study the mind, memory, attention, perception, reasoning and language;
  • Doctorate in Community Psychology Programs: Study how individuals relate to their communities and the cultural, economic, social, political, environmental and international influences on behavior;
  • Doctorate in Developmental Psychology Programs: Study the science of how humans evolve and learn from childhood through their lifespan;
  • Doctorate in Forensic Psychology Programs: Study how legal theory, procedures and law intersect with clinical psychiatric diagnosis, clinical issues, practice and ethics;
  • Doctorate in Holistic Psychology Programs: Study psychology from an integrative perspective (mind/body/spirit);
  • Doctorate in Industrial/Organizational psychology Programs: Study human behavior in the workplace, career development and human performance;
  • Doctorate in Social and Personality Psychology Programs: Study human nature and what makes individuals different from one another;
  • Doctorate in Sports Psychology Programs: Study sport specific psychological assessment, optimal performance, and counseling techniques for athletes.

Are Online PsyD Programs Available?

Earning a Doctorate in Psychology takes time and many students are juggling work and family too! If you are wondering how to manage your time – study, research, career, family – an online PsyD might be perfect for you!. There are many online PsyD programs available but it is worth a search to find out if these programs meet your needs.

psyd doctoral degree programs

Dr. Nicole Martinez

Expert Insight

How has earning a Psy.D. enhanced your career?

With my Psy.D. degree, I see patients, and have worked for groups, at treatment facilities, and now see them on my own. I teach online courses to up and coming masters and doctoral students in psychology. I review case files and write reports or testify on cases about patients' mental health history and issues. I also write for a number of publications, which brings me great joy in my ability to share useful information to help a broader audience.


Top States for Employment: Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York4,320$82,370

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Bakersfield, CA$132,88060
Fresno, CA$114,350Not Reported
Ithaca, NY$113,100100
Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS$108,72070
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$106,340310

Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Important is APA Accreditation for Psychology PhD Programs?

Very. Especially if you are aiming for an American Board of Professional Psychology. Why? To attain board certification by the ABPP one of the requirements is that an individual has earned “A doctoral degree from a program in professional psychology which at the time the degree was granted was accredited by the APA, CPA, or was listed in the publication Doctoral Psychology Programs Meeting Designation Criteria[vi].”

Who is the APA? The APA Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is recognized by both the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, as the national accrediting authority for professional education and training in psychology.

What is the Scope of APA Accreditation? The APA accredits doctoral graduate programs in clinical, counseling, school psychology and combination programs, internships, postdoctoral residency programs in traditional and specialty areas of psychology.

Top 175 Graduate Schools with PsyD and Psychology PhD Programs

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • Online degrees in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, public health, psychology and social work.
  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)

SOURCES: [i] |[ii] |[iii] [i] |[iv] [i] |[v] |[vi]

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