Psychology Graduation Growing With Degree Options


For the field of psychology, there is a link between the study of psychology and the willingness to accept the need for a higher degree in their profession. When the number of graduates of undergraduate psychology degrees increases, the number of students that will be pursuing masters and doctoral level degrees in psychology increases proportionately.

For this years graduating class, San Diego State University has seen the same increases in psychology graduates as schools all over the country have. The school is in the Top 10 in the U.S. and number two in California for awards given from the National Institutes of Health. As the number of students find their next step in education to get their doctoral degree in Psychology, they will need to decide which degree is best for their interests.

This is a positive sign for the industry that has seen reduced enrollment in the last few years. According to the Council of Graduate Schools, there were 1.7% fewer students began graduate studies in Fall of 2012 versus Fall of 2011. The number of applicants over the same period increased 4.3%. The funding of these advanced degrees seems to be the main concern. As the economy and recession concerns subside, more individuals are beginning to see the costs of education as sustainable with improving economic conditions and employment numbers.

Doctoral Psychology Options

For those students interested in doctoral level education in Psychology, they will need to decide between the two degrees available, the PhD and the PsyD. The material and professional esteem with both degrees are relatively similar, but the orientation and working conditions are different between the two. The following sections will break down the differences and make it easier to understand the better degree for a person depending on their personal aspirations.


This degree, often referred to as the Boulder model, was developed keeping equal importance between the research and clinical sides of psychology. Under this founding principal, graduates of PhD programs are being trained as scientist-practitioners, whose focus is split between both areas.


After the Boulder model raised objections by those interested in psychology, but not interested in the research component, this alternative degree was created. During a conference held in Vail, Colorado in 1973, this PsyD or Vail model, was distinguished. For those with clinical interests and less research oriented interests, this new degree option suited them better.

Contrasts PhD —   train producers of research

        PsyD — train consumers of research

        PhD   —  typically housed in graduate schools in University, University affiliation

        PsyD —  can be housed in all areas of schools and university, less need for                          affiliation

        PhD   —  program takes 1 to 1.5 years longer to complete

        PsyD —  program shorter than PhD

        PhD   —  more fitting for those interested in working in academia

        PsyD —  more fitting for those interested in clinical work


By monitoring the growth in the number of undergraduates seeking psychology degrees, the field of psychology has a widening base of professionals that will be completing advanced degrees in the coming years. The areas of study within the field are highlighted in the article 11 Exciting Areas of Psychology to Specialize with a Doctorate Degree.

By offering the PsyD and the PhD, the field of Psychology allows its upcoming professionals to really match the skill set and working conditions that they aspire to professionally. Finding accordance with the person’s interest and their real world work life will only bring about more fulfilled and satisfied practitioners, which should lead to the same benefit in those clients they work with.