The Best Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology Programs


Updated June 22, 2023

The best Psy.D. in clinical psychology programs prepare students to begin clinical practice in less time than a Ph.D. Read on to learn more about the top Psy.D. programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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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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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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Best Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology Programs

  1. Baylor University

    Waco, TX

    Baylor University, a Baptist-sponsored research institution located in Waco, Texas, offers a Psy.D. in clinical psychology based on a practitioner-scientist model. The curriculum emphasizes extensive clinical experience with opportunities to incorporate research into practice-oriented training. Baylor's program requires four years of campus residency followed by an internship in the fifth year at a site approved by the American Psychological Association.

    Admission requirements include at least 12 credits of undergraduate psychology courses, above-average GRE scores, a statement of research interests, and three letters of recommendation. Although applicants do not need a master's in psychology, clinical or practicum experience in psychology or a related field will boost chances for admission.

    The Psy.D. program offers considerable financial support. Students in good standing receive an annual practicum salary between $11,000-$18,000 during the first three years and a $19,000 stipend during the fourth year, covering all expenses while participating in clinical laboratories and dissertation research. Financial assistance does not extend to the fifth year.

    Courses Include

    • Ethics and professional issues in clinical psychology
    • Biological foundations of behavior
    • Multicultural issues
    • Psychopathology and assessment of children

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $47,30; students in good standing receive tuition remission and stipends
    • Credits Required: 107
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

  2. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    This private research institution, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, serves over 9,500 undergraduate and graduate students at its main campus in Malibu, California, and other locations. Pepperdine has created a unique doctor of psychology in clinical psychology program that emphasizes science-informed, evidence-based practice with an appreciation for multicultural context and cultural adaptation. The four-year program comprises three years of coursework and clinical training. In the final year, students complete a full-time internship and a clinical dissertation.

    Applicants to the Psy.D. program need a master's degree in psychology from a regionally accredited school with an overall 3.0 GPA in previous coursework. Applicants must submit GRE scores taken within the last five years, an autobiographical statement, and two letters of recommendation. After an initial review of candidates, the admissions committee arranges for interviews with all remaining candidates before making their final selection.

    More than 75% of students enrolled in the Psy.D. program receive some form of financial assistance, with an average award of $7,000.

    Courses Include

    • Sociocultural foundations of behavior
    • Psychometrics and measurement construction
    • Interventions with children and adolescents
    • Proseminar in professional development

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $134,865-$146,520
    • Credits Required: 82-87
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

  3. Biola University

    La Mirada, CA

    Founded as a Bible institute in 1908, Biola University has maintained an evangelical Christian mission in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The university's Psy.D. in clinical psychology program integrates the science and practice of psychology with Christian theology. Designed for students who plan to enter full-time practice, the Psy.D. curriculum's practitioner-scholar model emphasizes applied research.

    This 5-6 year program enables students to earn their master of arts and Psy.D. degree along with a minor in theology and biblical studies. Enrollees take 77 required and elective psychology credits, 18 credits in theology, and 12 credits in integrative seminars that address the connections between theological and psychological approaches.

    The program offers students two options to fulfill the research component: a dissertation based on original research or a research consumership sequence that requires a research seminar, a critical review of clinical research literature, and a comprehensive exam.

    Courses Include

    • Cognitive-affective aspects of behavior
    • Multicultural issues in clinical psychology
    • Principles and practices in clinical supervision
    • Psychotherapy and religion

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $31,360
    • Credits Required: 133
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

  4. Georgia Southern University

    Statesboro, GA



    The doctor of clinical psychology degree offered by Georgia State University prepares graduates for practice in rural and underserved areas in Georgia and neighboring regions of the southeast United States.

    This full-time day program, based at the Statesboro campus, requires five years to complete. Students generally attend classes 4-5 days a week in the first year. The second year combines coursework with approximately 12 hours of practicum experiences. In the third and fourth years, students attend classes on campus 2-3 days per week and spend two days, or approximately 16 hours, at a practicum site. In their final year, students complete their full-time internship requirement.

    Admission to the program does not require an undergraduate degree in psychology. However, students with a non-psychology bachelor's degree must have earned a "B" or higher in statistics, research, and abnormal psychology. Additional coursework in psychology and related fields strengthen the applicant's chances for admission.

    Courses Include

    • Rural mental health
    • Child and family interventions
    • Diversity issues in psychology

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $9,129-$36,463
    • Credits Required: 114
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

  5. Carlos Albizu University-Miami

    Miami, FL

    Named for its founder, Dr. Carlos Albizu Miranda, CAU offers a clinical psychology doctoral program at its Miami, San Juan, and Mayaguez campuses. The Psy.D. degree takes five years to complete, including one year each for the doctoral research component and the predoctoral internship. The program delivers courses on-campus, online, and in hybrid formats. However, students must complete at least two of the first three years at the San Juan campus.

    The curriculum reflects the practitioner-scholar model, offering a science-based generalist approach. Designed to produce multiculturally sensitive clinical psychologists, the program provides training in the direct delivery of professional mental health services and the assessment of these services.

    Specialized coursework, labs, and clinical experiences help students develop supplemental competencies in clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, and forensic psychology. The program also requires a research component in the form of a doctoral dissertation or research project that integrates clinical practice and scientific knowledge acquired through the program.

    Courses Include

    • Ethics and professional conduct
    • Neuroscience approach to cognitive and affective aspects of behavior
    • Design and administration of human services programs
    • Social psychology with emphasis on Puerto Rico

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $32,550
    • Credits Required: 99
    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  6. Wheaton College

    Wheaton, IL

    Wheaton College, located in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, offers undergraduate and graduate programs grounded in an evangelical Christian tradition. Wheaton's Psy.D. in clinical psychology prepares clinical psychologists for practice with individuals and groups marginalized on the basis of racial or ethnic identification, socioeconomic status, gender, or age.

    The five-year program, grounded in the practitioner-scholar model, comprises courses on assessment, theory, interviewing skills, and professional ethics. Practicum training takes place in the second, third, and fourth years. Students must complete a clinical dissertation and a clinical internship in the final year. The curriculum also requires 19 credits in theology that integrate faith perspectives with psychological approaches.

    Applicants do not need an undergraduate psychology degree but must complete specific psychology prerequisites to be considered for admission. Wheaton's Psy.D. program offers extensive financial assistance to offset the cost of tuition, awarding scholarships to each admitted student ranging from $6,000-$10,000.

    Courses Include

    • Class, gender, race, religion, and sexual identity
    • Psychoanalytical and contemporary psychodynamic theory and practice
    • Community and Preventive Psychology

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $43,510
    • Credits Required: 120
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  7. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

    West Chester, PA



    The largest institution in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, WCU administers undergraduate and graduate degrees to over 17,000 students. The full-time doctor of psychology program in clinical psychology provides training in evidence-based assessment and therapeutic intervention based on a practitioner-scholar model. The five-year program offers two clinical specializations in child and adolescent mental health or trauma.

    Students in the Psy.D. program receive clinical training at WCU's state-of-the art community health services clinic during the first two years of their program. The third and fourth years comprise clinical advanced practicum placements in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. In their fifth year, students complete a full-time predoctoral clinical internship.

    Admission to the program requires a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (or 3.3 for applicants with a master's degree), three letters of recommendation, a statement of professional interests, and completion of specific psychology prerequisites. Finalists must also participate in an interview with the admission committee.

    Courses Include

    • Adult psychopathology
    • Child and adolescent psychopathology
    • Multicultural clinical psychology
    • Trauma and treatments

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $9,288-$13,932
    • Credits Required: 114
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  8. University of Denver

    Denver, CO

    The Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver inaugurated its doctorate in clinical psychology in 1976, making it one of the first Psy.D. programs in the nation. Grounded in the practitioner-scholar model, the degree features a community focus on mental health with a particular emphasis on historically underrepresented populations. Degree-seekers can specialize in areas of adult or child assessment, Latinx psychology, military psychology, forensic psychology, behavioral medicine, early childhood mental health, and substance use disorders. The curriculum requires a sequence of multicultural courses to prepare graduates to work with diverse communities.

    The Psy.D. takes 4-5 years to complete. Students attend classes full-time in a cohort over fall, winter, spring, and summer terms for three years, followed by full-year internships in the fourth or fifth year. Degree-seekers must pass a clinical competency exam in the second year and complete a doctoral research project in the final year of study.

    Courses Include

    • Racial/ethnic identity development
    • Culturally competent psychotherapy
    • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues
    • Group dynamics and interventions

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $70,128
    • Credits Required: 110
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

  9. Mercer University

    Macon, GA

    Established in 1833, Mercer is the oldest of Georgia's private universities and boasts a student body of over 8,700, conferring degrees in 12 separate schools and colleges. The five-year doctor of clinical psychology program trains clinical psychologists to provide evidence-based practice in interdisciplinary healthcare delivery systems.

    The Psy.D. curriculum offers significant clinical experiences throughout the second, third, and fourth years of the program. Placements run for 12 months in a variety of settings throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. Degree-seekers must pass a clinical competency examination at the end of the third year and complete a required 2,000-hour internship in the final year of study.

    Applicants to the program who hold a non-psychology undergraduate degree must have a minimum of 12 hours in psychology prerequisites and an overall GPA of 3.0. The program requires applicants to submit GRE general test scores, a personal statement, and a curriculum vitae. Qualified applicants must participate in a formal interview before acceptance into the program.

    Courses Include

    • Social psychology and social neuroscience
    • Evidence-based assessment and treatment
    • Individual and cultural diversity

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $15,422
    • Credits Required: 100
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

  10. Regent University

    Virginia Beach, VA

    A private, interdenominational evangelical Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Regent offers over 135 undergraduate and graduate programs. The Psy.D. in clinical psychology, inaugurated in 1996, uses the practitioner-scholar model that incorporates a Christian worldview and multicultural approaches to science-based clinical practice.

    The cohort model of the Psy.D. program requires full-time, on-campus attendance in a fixed-course progression. Students pursue a 12-hour course load in the fall and spring terms and nine hours in the summer session. Degree-seekers complete all required coursework and clinical experiences in four years, followed by a 2,000-hour internship and dissertation project in the final year.

    Enrollees who begin the Psy.D. program after completing their undergraduate degree may earn a nested master of arts in clinical psychology after their third year of study. Students who enter the program with a master's degree may complete their coursework in three years, followed by the internship in the fourth year.

    Courses Include

    • Affect, cognition, and motivation
    • Ethics, professional orientation, and legal issues in psychotherapy
    • Psychology of religion
    • Applied theology for clinical psychologists

    Unique Features

    • Cost: $21,000
    • Credits Required: 124
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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