Clinical psychology is a subfield focused on the study and treatment of mental illness and related behavioral health issues.

While many clinical psychologists assess and treat individuals with mental illness, others perform research, teach, or develop programs. A license, issued by your state of residence, is required to work as a clinical psychologist.

A solid educational foundation is required to become a clinical psychologist. Here is the traditional path toward licensure:

Step 1: Bachelor’s Degree

An undergraduate degree in psychology or social work will provide solid background for a clinical psychology career. A bachelor’s degree in another discipline may be accepted as well.

Step 2: Master’s Degree

A master’s in clinical psychology will build your proficiency in assessing and treating dysfunctional behavior. It will help you understand and apply the scientific foundations of psychology, cultural competence, and ethical and best practice principles. You’ll also learn how to effectively communicate about psychological treatment and conduct clinical interviews and interventions.

Step 3: Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree, like a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is may be required to be licensed as a clinical psychologist.

A PsyD is a professional degree and focuses on practice and clinical work, while a PhD places more emphasis on experimental methods and research. A PsyD is intended to prepare you for a career as a practicing psychologist. A PhD is designed to produce psychologists who can understand and apply research as well as conduct it.

Interested in learning more about the kind of education you need to become a clinical psychologist? Learn more about Capella’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree offerings in psychology.