If you are reading this page you probably already know a lot about the field of psychology and are serious about advancing your career. You may have a burgeoning specialty or area of interest – and we hope to deepen your knowledge on the following pages. For those of you who are exploring your life options and dreaming about a future as a psychologist, it is our goal to provide you with clear, honest, and up-to-the-minute information regarding your goal of working with clients, conducting research, and teaching about human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
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If you want to become a psychologist you must earn a terminal degree. Your options are a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), or the Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D.). Many students choose a Psy.D. degree because they would like more clinical experiences during doctoral training – while students who want to focus on academic and research based careers opt for the Ph.D. or Ed.D. options. While classroom time is very similar in all psychology doctoral programs, most Psy.D. programs require many clinical practicum experiences while student time outside of the classroom in Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs is generally focused on research, in addition to clinical practica.
All of these degrees can prepare you to sit for the license exams at the national and state level in order to earn your professional credentials. Depending on the state that you live in, continuing education may also be a requirement to keep your counseling license. Additionally, accredidation by the American Psychological Association (APA) impacts the ease with which one can obtain lisencsure after graduation.
Students pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology who want to engage in therapeutic work may elect to specialize in either counseling or clinical psychology. Other sub-fields such as organizational or industrial psychology do not generally prepare students to practice therapy work – however, these offer increased opportunities for consultation, etc.
Traditionally, clinical psychology has had a focus on hospital settings and major mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Counseling psychology began with career counseling in college counseling centers, however, and has therefore grown into a more broad application of psychological principals to an individual’s entire life and circumstances. For instance, considering the same client – a clinical psychologist is more likely to focus on pathology while a counseling psychologist will be interested in the client’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, life goals, etc. In recent years the separation between the two subfields has shifted towards the center, however, a division remains. Consider your potential research and practice interests when choosing a graduate program and speciality to ensure that you will be well matched with the theoretical focus of your future program. Doctoral study is a large commitment, be sure you feel at home with the type of research and focus on clients that feels most authentic to the way you view the world.
The following pages will outline more fully the benefits, prerequisites, and options to consider when selecting a graduate psychology program.