8 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Doctorate in Psychology

Are you thinking about going back to school to get your doctorate in psychology? Earning your Ph.D. or PsyD can be an excellent way to improve your career and salary prospects. Below are some of the best reasons to consider earning this prestigious degree.

#1 You Want To Be An Academic

Earning your bachelor’s degree and even a master’s degree in psychology is not enough to get you the best-paying jobs in academia. If you want to be a full-time psychology professor at most universities, you must earn your doctorate in psychology.

Many students want to get their doctorate and work in academia so they can teach students at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Being a full-time professor provides a good salary, benefits, and job security.

Others want to perform research at universities and obtain research grants from public and private entities.

#2 You Want To Be a Researcher

Many Ph.D. students in psychology yearn to become a research psychologist. In this field, you have the chance to study a variety of complex psychological issues and treatments and come up with new solutions.

Many doctoral degree holders are employed by the government or non-profit groups to discover new treatments for mental health conditions. Others focus on discovering innovative ways to teach certain populations of students.

Research psychology is also a good path if you want your original research published in peer-reviewed journals, such as The Journal of Psychology and Cognition and The Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy.

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#3 You Have Your Master’s Degree

Students interested in a psychology career can do little with a bachelor’s degree alone. Practicing as a counseling or clinical psychologist requires at least a master’s degree. However, to work independently, you must have a doctoral degree.

Most psychology students eventually earn their master’s degree, which means you are just one of many who have their graduate degree. But a lot fewer students earn their doctoral degree.

Doctoral programs are more selective and difficult. You can make yourself stand out from other psychology students with your Ph.D. or PsyD.

#4 You Want To Specialize

Some master’s programs allow you to specialize in a branch of psychology. But obtaining your doctorate in psychology allows you to focus even more on that specialization so you can become an expert and authority in the field. Some of the most popular doctoral specializations are:

  • Neuropsychology
  • Engineering psychology
  • Sports psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Human factors psychology
  • School psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Abnormal psychology

#5 You Want to Work in Private Clinical Practice

You can work as a clinical psychologist with a master’s degree, but you must be supervised by a Ph.D. in the field. While this may be a satisfactory arrangement for some time, many professionals want to eventually start their own private practice.

#6 You Want To Understand a Psychology Subject Better

If you want to become a subject matter expert on a subject in psychology, getting your Ph.D. may allow you to conduct in-depth research in that area.

For example, if you want to understand better how the brain solves problems, or how some drugs can affect depression or bipolar disorder, doctoral study will allow you to do years of research in those areas. You may even decide to write your dissertation on the subject.

#7 You Want to Help Other People

You can counsel others with a master’s degree. But having your psychology doctoral degree means another four to six years of experience and study. You can provide more in-depth help to your patients with a Ph.D. or PsyD.

SEE ALSO: Is it Worth It to Get a PsyD in Psychology?

#8 You Want to Make More Money

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the top earners in the field make at least $130,000 per year. Most of them have a doctoral degree and many years of work experience.

You also will qualify for more jobs with a doctoral degree. APA’s Workforce Studies found that 72% of surveyed psychologists with a doctorate got their top choice for work after they graduated.

What the Experts Say

We checked with experts on Quora.com about this question: “Is it worth it to get a Ph.D. in psychology?”

  • “If you enjoy research, by all means, look into the possibility of pursuing the Ph.D., which will open many career avenues even before graduation. The field of psychology is rapidly following the study into biological and genetic factors behind mental illness and is the wave of the future. This opens up many new areas of research that you may become a part of.” – Mike King, MA in Politics, MS in Psychology, Minor in Management.
  • “It depends on what you mean by “worth it.” If you don’t mind working hard for a finite number of years in order to have great flexibility in where you work (VA, academia, private practice, mental hospital, community mental health, the federal prison system, etc.) and what you do (therapy, assessment, administration, supervision, teaching, research, etc.), then yes, it’s worth it.” – Valerie Leake, Psychologist, Therapist.
  • “A Ph.D. in psychology is centrally about doing research and getting it published. Do you feel comfortable doing research? Do you aspire to become a professor of psychology? Is there any domain in psychology that you have a special passion for? If your responses to these questions are all “yes”, then go ahead [and get your Ph.D.]. – Jimmy Zhong, Student, Ph.D. in Psychology.
  • “I found it useful. I was able to teach undergraduate and graduate classes at three different universities. I worked as a school psychologist/diagnostician and earned a good salary. It was six years of hard work past my undergraduate degree, but I think it was worth it.” – Rondeall Bizzell, Ph.D. in Psychology.
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Earning your doctoral degree in psychology provides you with many job opportunities and a shot at earning a top salary in the field. It is a worthy educational goal that can “result a high level of personal and professional satisfaction.