FAQ Psy.D. versus Ph.D.

Helpful Links

Events and Pictures

Quick Links

How Does a Psy.D. differ from a Ph.D. ?

Psy.D. is a doctorate in Psychology whereas a Ph.D. is a doctorate degree in Philosophy. The doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at ISU offer the Psy.D.

The primary difference between the two types of programs is that a Psy.D. program generally places greater emphasis on clinical training early in the program. In many cases a Ph.D. program will have greater emphasis on research involvement than a Psy.D. program. For example, in most Ph.D. programs in Clinical Psychology, a student would be expected to complete a Master's research project as well as a doctoral dissertation. In most Psy.D. programs, students do only a doctoral level research project. The graduate student stipends are also sometimes greater in a Ph.D. program than a Psy.D. program, often due to greater amounts of faculty grant money in research-oriented Ph.D. programs.

The ISU Psy.D. program involves students in clinical course work and training starting in the first year of the program. We also encourage students to become involved in faculty research early in the program in preparation for developing a dissertation research project. Given that our program requires a dissertation, the emphasis on research at ISU's Psy.D. program is likely somewhat greater than in other Psy.D. programs.

Back to Top

What are the advantages of a Psy.D. over a Ph.D.?

Students entering a Psy.D. program often get more clinical training and experience and get this experience earlier in the program than many Ph.D. programs. Our students start their assessment and treatment courses in the first year of the program, begin seeing clients in the ISU Psychology Cinic in the 2nd and 3rd years of the program, and complete a 9-12 month placement in the community during the 4th year of the program. Overall, our students generally accumulate in excess of 800 hours of clinical hours prior to internship.

A second advantage of a Psy.D. program is the breadth, depth and focus in our clinical course work with required courses in areas such as: Supervision and Consultation, Advanced Treatment and Assessment, Professional Clinical Psychology, and Psychopharmacology. We also offer electives which provide more in-depth coverage of specific disorders and types of treatment such as Seminars on Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Schizophrenia, Cognitive and Constructivist Approaches to Treatment, and Empirically Supported Interventions with Children and Adolescents.

Back to Top

Myths associated with a Psy.D.

Myth #1: "You can't teach or work in academia with a Psy.D."

Although it is generally true that Psy.D.'s are less competitive than Ph.D's in securing academic positions, a large number of our Psy.D. graduates teach as adjunct professors at colleges and universities nationwide and several do hold full-time academic positions. In fact, the majority of our Psy.D students obtain 1-2 years of teaching experience as part of their assistantship during the program (students not teaching may be involved in research or working in the clinic).

Back to Top

Myth #2: "It's harder for Psy.D. students to get internship positions"

This is quite definitely a myth, as all of our students in recent years have been placed in APA-accredited internship sites such as V.A. medical centers, university medical centers, community mental health centers and consortiums. In fact, based on a 2006 APPIC report, the ISU Psy.D. program had a "match rate" of 94.3% which one of the highest match rates among Psy.D. programs nationwide and within the top 20 for Clinical Psychology programs nationwide that participated in the APPIC match program. In addition, the majority of our students over the past several years have gotten offers at one of their top three internship choices. Many internship sites are looking for students with diverse clinical experience in both assessment and treatment. Our program has a strong reputation for producing students who are well trained in both assessment and treatment and have a great deal of clinical experience as well.

Back to Top

Myth #3: "You aren't a real "doctor" with a Psy.D." (or) "People won't respect your clinical abilities as much as they would if you had a Ph.D."

First, there are a number of different doctoral degrees in Psychology including School, Clinical and Counseling Psychology. For much of the public, there is very little understanding or even awareness that not all "Psychologists" have the same training or background. Thus, for the majority of your clients, you will be considered a "doctor" in Psychology, just as any other doctoral-level provider in Psychology.

Although there is some lack of knowledge and understanding of Psy.D. versus Ph.D. among the public, there is a growing awareness and appreciation of the Psy.D. clinicians in health care settings. The majority of Psy.D. graduates are employed in clinical settings, thus your peers in health care settings are likely both to be familiar with the degree, and also to appreciate the clinical competence and experience that the degree implies.

Back to Top

What are our Psy.D. graduates doing?

The majority of the Psy.D. graduates from ISU are employed in primary health care settings such as public or private outpatient clinics, community mental health centers, and Veteran's Administration Hospitals. In addition, however, we have a growing number of graduates who are employed in the military, post-doctoral positions, academic positions, and administrative positions.

Back to Top


We hope that the above information has heightened your awareness and appreciation of the Psy.D. degree in Clinical Psychology. If you have any questions or comments about the distinctions between a Psy.D. or Ph.D. presented here, please feel free to contact the author of this site: Liz O'Laughlin at Elizabeth.O'Laughlin@indstate.edu

Back to Top