There isn't just one difference between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D degree. Both degrees offer unique career focuses and come with different pros and cons. The Psy.D. actually has a long history that started in the 1960s.
Psy.D. Program Overview
Students who want to pursue clinical practice should pursue a PsyD. These degrees focus on client assessments and treatments. Research is still important, but it is secondary to face-to-face work with clients. The PsyD program will help students prepare for their state licensure exams through advanced training in therapeutic techniques, practice-based knowledge and assessment and intervention skills.
These Psy.D. degree programs will include coursework in psychopathology, biological psychology, cross cultural issues, evidence-based practices and clinical supervision and consultation strategies. This program is ideal for those who have active listening, critical thinking and communication skills. Psy.D. programs involve more intensive training and more time and monetary investment than a regular PhD. Graduates of this program become school, clinical and private practice psychologists.
Ph.D Program Overview
Students are interested in research or administration should consider a PhD. Program. Armed with this degree, graduates will know how to plan, conduct and analyze research within various psychology fields. They may focus on specific areas, such as business, education, substance abuse and experimental psychology. Others will be able to pursue an administrative or leadership career in a research facility, government agency or higher learning education.
A PhD in psychology program includes classes on tests and measurements, qualitative analysis, quantitative research methods and advanced inferential statistics. This program is ideal for research-driven professionals who want to oversee programs that examine how people act, think and feel. These individuals must have excellent organizational and data analysis skills. Some of the most common careers available with this degree include university faculty, market research director and research center executive.
The Bottom Line
Graduates of Psy.D. programs will excel in practice-based knowledge and be familiar with research standards and methodology. In fact, they are trained to become consumers of research-based knowledge by searching research articles, analyzing research findings and applying them to their applied work. On the other hand, Ph.D. in psychology students will be able to not only apply research, but conduct it themselves.
Because programs create scientists, students will spend most of their time on research and will be discouraged from engaging in clinical practice. Psy.D. programs create practitioners and Ph.D. programs create scientist-practitioners who are competent researchers. When it comes to funding, Ph.D. programs will offer more than Psy.D. programs. Ph.D. programs will usually have faculty who have research grant money, so they can afford to hire students and offer them stipends and tuition reductions. Almost all students who obtain Psy.D. degrees will use loans to pay for their education.
To wrap up, Psy.D. students generally finish their programs quicker than do Ph.D. students. A Psy.D. program will require years of practice, coursework and a dissertation that involves researching a specific problem. A Ph.D. is similar to this, but the dissertation will be a much more time consuming because candidates must create, conduct and defend an original research study. The ultimate difference between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D is the career direction that students will take.