The Best Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology Programs 2020

The Best Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology Programs 2020

| Staff Writers

The Best Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology Programs 2020
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A doctor of psychology (Psy.D.), unlike a Ph.D., prepares students to deliver direct mental health services to their clients. When compared to a Ph.D., a Psy.D. offers a quicker pathway to the most competitive and top-paying occupations in psychology. Psychologists work in healthcare, government agencies, private practice, community mental healthcare, and schools.

The employment growth for psychologists remains on pace with all other jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Psychologist jobs are projected to increase by 3% from 2019-2029, with employers adding 5,700 jobs mostly in clinical counseling and schools.

Psychologists who hold a terminal degree such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. have an advantage in the job market over candidates with only a master’s degree. They can become behavioral health consultants, rehabilitation specialists, and child and adult psychologists.

This guide can help you find the best Psy.D. programs and outlines how to get a head start on the application process.

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Best Psy.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology

Rank School Location
1 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
2 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
3 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
4 Columbia University in the City of New York New York City, NY
5 Wheaton College Wheaton, IL
  • The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Students interested in becoming professors and researchers can earn a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and specialize in an area of interest.

    Specialization areas

    • Behavioral Neuroscience
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Cognitive Science
    • Developmental Psychology
    • Individual Difference and Evolutionary Psychology
    • Perceptual Systems
    • Social Psychology

     

    The curriculum requires all students to complete two advanced statistics courses and three core courses in two of three content groups: physiology and learning; perception, cognition, and cognitive development; and abnormal, social, personality, developmental, and individual differences. Enrollees also take an ethics class and complete specialization area requirements, which may include research projects or papers.

    Each applicant must submit a graduate form online, a statement of purpose, three references, transcripts, GRE scores, and a CV.

    Unique features

    • Cost: Admitted students obtain fellowships or half-time research or teaching assistantships that pay partial tuition and provide medical insurance
    • Program Length: 4-6 years
    • Accreditation: American Psychological Association

     

  • University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    The University of Virginia houses one of the best Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology. Students can opt for a school psychology track focusing on school-age youth mental health and development. Graduates pursue leadership positions in academia, K-12 schools, medical centers, and mental health agencies. The curriculum includes advanced coursework, applied research training in a faculty member's lab, and supervised clinical training in schools and clinics.

    Courses include

    • Educational Research Methods
    • Physiological/Biological/Neurological Basis of Behavior
    • Personality Assessment
    • Psychological intervention and Consultation in Schools

     

    A competitive admissions process selects 5-7 students per year and takes a holistic approach by balancing applicants' strengths and weaknesses. Submission requirements include transcripts, GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of professional goals. Selected applicants take part in interviews in Charlottesville.

    Unique features

    • Cost: Admitted students receive financial aid that covers tuition, medical insurance, and living expenses
    • Program Length: Five years
    • Accreditation: American Psychological Association

     

  • Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    The clinical psychology Ph.D. program at Chicago's Northwestern University integrates clinical practice with science. The program trains ethical, productive, and competent psychologists planning careers in academia.

    Northwestern's highly competitive program admits just 4-8 new students each fall. A faculty member mentors each student, and applicants must identify at least one professor they want to work with on their applications for admission. The admissions process considers each candidate's undergraduate coursework and GPA, GRE scores, and recommendation letters, along with any prior research and clinical preparation.

    Courses include

    • Behavioral Neuroscience
    • Lifespan Developmental Psychology
    • Psychopathology
    • Research Methods

     

    Students also take electives in their areas of emphasis and log teaching, lab work, and internship hours. Graduation requires a dissertation and practicum research.

    Unique features

    • Cost: Admitted students receive a research assistant scholarship, tuition remission, health insurance, and a monthly stipend of $2,643
    • Program Length: 5-6 years
    • Accreditation: American Psychological Association

     

  • Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York City, NY

    The clinical psychology program at Columbia University in New York leads to a Ph.D. and provides rigorous training in clinical assessment and intervention and clinical science. Graduates pursue careers as tenure-track professors, researchers, or independent clinical practitioners.

    The mentor-based program includes core coursework, a clinical internship, research papers and presentations, a research certification exam, and a dissertation.

    Courses include

    • Brain and Behavior
    • Clinical Work with Diverse Populations
    • Cognition, Emotion, and Culture
    • History and Systems of Psychology

     

    Each candidate can apply to Columbia's Teachers College by providing transcripts demonstrating a bachelor's degree, a statement of purpose, a resume, two letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Select applicants may receive an invitation to interview.

    Unique features

    • Cost: A doctoral fellowship fully funds tuition for three years and provides a $25,000 stipend for the fourth year; in exchange, students serve as research or teaching assistants
    • Program Length: Five years
    • Accreditation: American Psychological Association

     

  • Wheaton College
    Location

    Wheaton, IL

    The Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Wheaton College prepares students for careers as applied clinical psychologists in hospitals, medical facilities, and private practice. The Psy.D. program follows a practitioner-scholar training model grounded in Christian beliefs.

    From 2009-2019, nearly half of the program's graduates earned their degrees in five years, completing coursework, a clinical dissertation, clinical experience, a comprehensive programmatic exam, and a professional qualifying exam. Nearly 30% graduated in six years.

    Courses include

    • Advanced Couple and Family Therapy
    • Advanced Integration of Psychology and Christian Theology
    • Geropsychology
    • Practicum Seminar

     

    Prospective students apply with a graduate application form. Admission requires an on-campus interview and a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and core courses, along with GRE scores, three recommendations, and a research paper. All admitted students receive scholarships of $6,000-$10,000.

    Unique features

    • Cost: $43,510 annually
    • Credits Required: 120
    • Accreditation: American Psychological Association

     

Applying to a Doctoral Programs in Clinical Psychology

No two schools have the same admissions process. At a minimum, however, Psy.D. applicants must have earned a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, or a related major. On a case-by-case basis, admissions offices sometimes admit graduates who hold master’s degrees in unrelated majors.

Candidates also need to hold a minimum 3.3-3.5 GPA. Admissions committees evaluate candidates based on their academic history, work and internship experience, letters of recommendation, and writing samples.

Programs may require that qualified applicants have completed courses in statistics, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology. In some circumstances, applicants need to submit GRE scores.

Subsidies vary by school. Unlike a Ph.D. in clinical psychology degree, clinical psychology Psy.D. programs only offer partial tuition help through fellowships and teaching assistantships.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do clinical psychologists work?

    As one of the field’s largest speciality areas, clinical psychology offers ample opportunities for psychologists who hold a Psy.D. clinical psychology degree. Clinical psychologists launch their careers in hospitals, private healthcare practices, and counseling centers. A Psy.D. prepares psychologists for clinical work, unlike Ph.D. or Ed.D. degrees that primarily lead to careers in teaching or research.

  • What can I expect from a Psy.D. in clinical psychology program?

    The curricula in clinical psychology Psy.D. programs focus on clinical practice training with courses in advanced psychological testing, theories of psychotherapy, evidence-based practice, and advanced research methods. Programs prepare candidates to earn their license. A Psy.D. clinical psychology degree offers a higher acceptance rate compared to Ph.D. in clinical psychology programs.

  • What’s the difference between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. in clinical psychology?

    A research-focused Ph.D. prepares graduates for jobs in academia or research. A Psy.D. in clinical psychology concentrates on work experience through internships and practicums. The length of each program also differs. Students take 4-5 years to earn a Psy.D. and about 5-7 for a Ph.D.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Students benefit from enrolling in Psy.D. clinical psychology programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Accreditation serves as a quality measure to ensure that students receive an education up to industry standards. Employers also prefer candidates from accredited programs. Accrediting agencies independently review all aspects of Psy.D. programs, including the curricula, faculty, facilities, and educational outcomes.

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