Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Psychologists study mental processes and human behavior by observing and interpreting how people interact with one another and their environment. Psychologists use scientific methods, principles, and procedures to look for patterns that will help them understand and predict behavior. Similar to other social scientists, psychologists formulate theories which are possible explanations for observations. However, dissimilar to other social science disciplines, psychologists typically concentrate on individual behavior and the beliefs and feelings that influence a person’s actions.

Psychology offers a wide array of specialty areas to choose from. While some psychologists focus on research, others chose to focus on practical applications of psychological principles. Psychologists who focus on research seek to understand and explain thought, feelings, and behavior. Through their research findings psychologists have greatly enhance our understanding why people do the things they do. Insights provided by research psychologist can help people function better both as individuals and within larger group settings such as organizations and in the workplace.

Psychologists work in a vast number of industries performing a variety of duties. For those wanting to work in the health service field, opportunities exist to provide mental healthcare in hospitals, clinics, school, or private settings. In applied settings, psychologists may be employed by businesses or government entities to provide training, conduct research, or design organizational systems. Clinical psychologists represent the largest specialty of working psychologists and seek to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental disorders. While a few clinical psychologists work with the severest cases such as schizophrenic patients, many other deal with personal issues such as the death of a loved one or helping people through a divorce. Most clinical psychologists work in their own private office to interview and diagnose patients, while some work in a hospital on cohorts with physicians and other specialists.

Types of Doctorate Degrees

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
The traditional Ph.D. in Psychology degree is a research-focused degree that qualifies graduates to work in the field of clinical or counseling psychology. Earning a Ph.D. also qualifies psychologists to teach at the university level, conduct research and practice at mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, private industry, government and private practice.

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
The Doctor of Psychology degree is one of the highest-level degrees available in the field of psychology.  It offers a more practice-based educational model, and Psychologists who earn a Psy.D. usually work as clinicians in mental health settings and may also work in private practice.

 Application Process

There is no centralized application service for students applying to psychology graduate programs.  Students must research the schools of interest and review their academic requirements and process for applying.  Student applying to psychology graduate programs must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).  An undergraduate course load heavy in psychology classes is generally required for entrance into graduate programs.  Indeed, many graduate programs require an undergraduate major in psychology as a prerequisite for graduate study. Since psychology is heavily involved with research, it can be helpful to obtain research experience as an undergraduate, and many programs require some research experience.  Each graduate program in psychology is a little different from the rest, so it is important for students to research the schools they wish to attend.  Some focus primarily on the research side of psychology, while others are more focused on the practical side of the profession.


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