What’s the difference between a PsyD and a PhD in psychology?

Generally speaking, a PhD prepares you to teach, while a professional doctorate is more geared toward a professional career.

If you are considering a doctoral program in psychology, you’ll want to understand the main differences between a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD).

A good starting place is to ask this question: Would I rather work in research, administration, or an academic setting, or see patients in a clinical practice?

If research, administration, or academia is your answer, then consider a PhD.

With this degree, you will further your psychology career, focusing on specific areas such as addiction, educational, industrial/organizational, general, or developmental psychology. You might also pursue an academic career as a faculty member at a college or university, or an administrative career in a higher education institution, a research facility, or a human services organization.

A PhD in Psychology degree program includes coursework such as:

  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
  • Tests and Measurements
  • Advanced Inferential Statistics
  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Psychology

Ideal for: Curious, research-minded professionals with an interest in learning about how people think and act. Excellent communications and data analysis skills are essential.

Common career outcomes:

  • College or university faculty
  • Researcher
  • Higher education administrator
  • Human services administrator
  • Market research analyst
  • Data analyst

Wondering which career in psychology is right for you? Here’s a handy guide to psychology-related careers.

If clinical practice is your answer, then consider a PsyD.

This degree focuses on assessing and treating patients. Research is secondary but still important. The PsyD helps students prepare for state licensure with extensive training in therapeutic techniques, practice-related knowledge, and expertise in assessment and intervention skills.

A PsyD degree program includes coursework such as:

  • Advanced Biological Psychology
  • Cognitive/Affective Psychology
  • Advanced Psychopathology
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology
  • Strategies of Clinical Supervision and Consultation

Ideal for: Those adept at active listening, critical thinking, and highly effective communication. Note: Requires a commitment to more intensive training than a PhD, with a significant time and monetary investment.

Common career outcomes:

  • Private practice psychologist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Psychotherapist
  • School psychologist

Either choice will allow you to dive into a degree program that is tailored to specific career goals, study topics, and personal strengths. Take your time to consider what your strengths are and what you enjoy most about the field of psychology.

Capella University offers a PhD in Psychology, a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, and a Doctor of Psychology in School Psychology degree program.