A PsyD is a doctoral degree in psychology that functions as a professional degree rather than an academic one.

What is a PsyD?
In many fields, such as law and medicine, people can attend schools that will provide them with training designed to prepare them for a career. Such degrees are sometimes called professional degrees, and the PsyD is psychology’s equivalent of a professional degree. A PhD has historically been the degree sought by people who want to become practicing psychologists. However, a PsyD degree is a generalized one that provides psychologists with training in a variety of psychology-related topics.

In the 1970s, mental health professionals and people interested in psychology began advocating for a degree that prepared graduates to enter the field as practicing psychologists rather than as researchers or academics. The PsyD was the result of this advocacy and is currently the degree many psychology students choose if they want to work as practicing psychologists.

Education and Professional Training for PsyD
People with PsyD degrees have doctoral-level training, but have focused much more heavily on people and solving problems than on research. While both traditional psychologists and PsyD’s are qualified to seek licensure to become psychologists, people with PsyD’s sometimes argue that their practice is more people-centered and better-informed by an academic background that prepared them to work as therapists. Both PsyD degrees and PhD degrees require significant post-college coursework, but a PsyD typically takes slightly less time to complete because students spend less time conducting research and being trained in research methodologies. Instead, students see clients under the supervision of a mentor and receive early and frequent feedback on their relationships with clients and how best to help clients resolve their problems.

PsyD educational programs are sometimes referred to as clinical psychology programs.


  1. Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is the difference between a PhD in psychology and a PsyD? Graduate School. Retrieved from
  2. Clinical psychology – PsyD programs. (n.d.). Argosy University. Retrieved from

Last Updated: 08-21-2015

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