In order to qualify as a psychologist, a master's degree or doctorate degree is required. There are a variety of degree options to choose from, and the career options available at each level can vary.
Doctoral Degrees in Psychology
In order to become a licensed clinical or counseling psychologist, a doctorate degree is required. There are two types of doctorate degrees to choose from: the Ph.D. and the Psy.D. The traditional Ph.D. in Psychology degree is a research-focused degree that qualifies graduates to work in the field of clinical or counseling psychology. Earning a Ph.D. also qualifies psychologists to teach at the university level, conduct research and practice at mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, private industry, government and private practice.
Psychologists who earn a Psy.D. usually work as clinicians in mental health settings and may also work in private practice.
It usually takes around five to seven years of graduate study to complete a doctoral degree in psychology. Those enrolled in Ph.D. programs complete a final dissertation that is based upon original research, while those enrolled in Psy.D. programs may complete more clinical work and examinations instead of a dissertation. Counseling and clinical psychology programs also require an internship that usually lasts one to two years.
In most states, those interested in becoming school psychologists must complete a specialist degree in school psychology. The Ed.S. degree in school psychology usually takes a minimum of three years to complete and consists of at least 60 graduate credit hours. In addition to the course requirements, students must also complete a one year internship.
Master's Degrees in Psychology
Professionals with a master's degree sometimes work in mental health under the direct supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist. Master's programs can also prepare students to become industrial-organizational psychologists, although many choose to continue on to earn their doctorate.
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