How Long Does a Doctorate in Psychology Take to Complete?

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Earning a doctoral degree in psychology is needed for you to get many higher level jobs in the field. This includes becoming a practicing clinical psychologist or a counseling psychologist. A doctorate is usually needed as well in school psychology and health psychology.

Of course, earning your doctorate is going to take a good amount of time, but how long? The requirements of your degree will depend upon which field you are pursuing. Keep in mind that a Ph.D. is not the only option on the table in the field of psychology. Depending upon your career goals, you may also consider the Psy.D. degree, or even the Ed.D. degree in some situations.

A Ph.D. in psychology is usually focused on research. With a Ph.D. in psychology, you will be qualified for many types of teaching jobs, as well as research and clinical positions at universities, hospitals and private clinical practices.

The Psy.D. degree is more focused on clinical practice. Professionals with a Psy.D. degree also can teach or do research in the field, but they often work in clinical settings and provide mental health services.

If you are interested in working mostly as a school psychologist, earning your Ed.D., or Doctor of Education, also is a possibility.

How Long Will The Degree Take?

The number of years to complete your doctorate will depend upon many factors. What type of degree are you getting? What is your educational background? Which specific doctoral program have you entered?

Generally, with a strong psychology background and with all of the required prerequisites, you can finish your doctoral degree faster than students who do not have a deep psychology background.

To earn your Ph.D. in psychology, you will need 5-7 years to earn the degree. You will need to finish all of the required classes and you also will have to do an internship or residency of some sort. A Ph.D. program usually ends with a detailed and long dissertation. This paper tends to be 200-300 pages in length and can take you a year or more to complete. The lengthy dissertation is a major reason why earning your Ph.D. takes so long.

To earn your Psy.D. degree, you need 4-6 years to finish the degree. Generally, it will take you about one to one and a half years less time to earn your Psy.D. compared to a Ph.D.

For your Ed.D. degree, you will need 3-5 years to complete it. It is important to remember that many applicants to Ed.D. degree programs already have a master’s degree in a related speciality. Most applicants to Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs start their programs with only a bachelor’s degree.