Whether you’re interested in pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology to move forward in your career or for personal fulfillment, you’ll most likely want some level of assurance that the financial and time investment will result in the benefits you desire.

The following are a few tips to help you calculate the overall cost and ROI of attaining a PhD in Psychology, which may help you to determine if a PhD is right for you.


Evaluating the Qualitative Value of a PhD

A PhD in Psychology is critical to moving forward in the field of psychology. Specifically, if you’re looking to get into teaching in higher education, a doctoral credential is essential.

In addition to gaining access to the teaching in higher education, graduates with a PhD in Psychology often advance into leadership roles, move on to publish in journals and books, serve on association boards, and establish consulting practices. In addition to gaining the satisfaction of attaining your professional goals, these advanced positions in psychology may also lead to higher salaries, better opportunities for advancement, increased job security, and greater prestige in the industry.


Calculating Cost of Degree

Like most higher education options, a PhD requires significant financial investment – but there are multiple options to reduce the cost for students.

As you calculate the overall costs for a PhD in Psychology program, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I transfer credits to reduce my course load? You may be able to use previously earned credits from a different program to shorten your path to graduation. You can transfer up to 25 quarter credits from your previous institution into the PhD in Psychology program, potentially saving you time and money.
  • How much time can I dedicate to completing a degree? Adult students often need to juggle coursework with a career and family life. Weigh the time and effort alongside the financial costs – and search for programs that have flexibility.
  • Can I afford the financial costs? A PhD requires upfront investment, including tuition, books, residency fees, and software requirements. Capella University’s net price calculator can help you see how much your desired program will cost.


Calculating Return on Investment

Graduates with a PhD in Psychology are employed in various academic and professional occupations, with salaries based on industry and area of specialization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The median salary for professionals with a doctoral degree is $86,528 per year.*
  • The median pay for industrial-organizational psychologists is $82,760 per year.**
  • The median pay for clinical and counseling psychologists is $73,270 per year.**

Use the median salary to calculate your overall return on investment by following this simple formula:

Expected Salary Increase  x  Number of Years Remaining Before Retirement After Finishing Degree  –  Cost of Education  =  ROI


Learn more about Capella’s online PhD in Psychology program.

Editor’s Note: The salaries in this post have been updated for accuracy.


*”Unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. N.p., 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 14 June 2017.
**”Psychologists.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. N.p., 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 June 2017.