7+ Year Member
Feb 23, 2010
So…I have a huge and exciting dilemma. I have two offers that I'm strongly considering: the PsyD program at the University of Denver, and the PhD in clinical psychology at Duquesne.

Denver *just*offered me a half-tuition scholarship – so I will be paying about $90k over three years (instead f $180k). Yay! Denver's program seems very strong clinically and they have a couple areas of focus that interest me – forensics and trauma, especially. The downside to Denver's program: no teaching opportunities, the cost (still expensive), and the high number of entering students. I wonder if I would feel like a "number" there?

Duquesne, in Pittsburgh, is renowned for its work in existential-phenomenology psychology. I initially applied because I have a background in creative nonfiction and clinical psych. (Surprisingly, the only places I got interviews at are slight off the beaten path, or PsyD programs.) Duquesne is very strong in its scholarship of philosophers and humanistic psychologists. The program is six years – four years coursework, one year internship, one year dissertation. They will offer me $15k/year in funding and I would probably take out about $10-$20k in loans over six years to cover the summer months. The downside to Duquesne: the program doesn't offer much training in mainstream assessment or other methods of psychology, beyond E-P and psychodynamic. Some students have said the program offers some training in CBT but with an existential flavor. This is not to say that I'm not interested in EP – I just want to feel, well, grounded when I graduate and able to conduct a variety of research. The other down side (or upside!) is program's qualitative focus –this is interesting tom e, but puts me at a disadvantage should I ever want to teach at a big university (not sure if I do). I've been told that Pittsburgh is a great area, clinically, and that I can seek out other opportunities at U. Pitt and the psychiatric hospital to get more training in other areas. So rather than spending the money, I'd be spending time finding creative ways to learn more areas of clinical psych beyond Duquesne's program. I should add the Duq is very strong clinically, as is Denver.

Before I got the scholarship from Denver I was planning to turn them down…but then I got the scholarship a few hours ago. Now I'm not sure. I'm not jumping at the chance to go to Denver, but neither am I at Duq. I think the money is still an issue – is this a normal feeling? How much would I be paying off every month if I had $90k in loans and an average job? My main goal is to have a private practice, conduct assessment (which I'm told I can learn during internship year if I don't get much of it at Duq), and teach on the side.
Please share any thoughts you have! I'm really struggling with this decision.
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10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
There is a site called FinAid! or something like that which has good loan calculators so you can do the numbers. Don't underestimate how tough $90,000 will be. Just Google "student loan calculator"

But even without that, I think walking away from a funded PhD program for a PsyD program in this market is definitely worth questioning. You simply have better "face validity" in the academic/teaching market with the PhD and the debt is significantly less. I know many highly skilled and respected PsyDs but you do have to sell yourself harder because the degree is not as well recognized/understood beyond certain circles.

As you observe, you would need to do some creative extension to get elements of training like solid CBT and more assessment--but it is hard to imagine that there is nothing in that area at all and the local training hospitals seem like rich ground to make up for any shortfall. And don't underestimate qualitative research--depending on the area of study, it can be very rigorous and good teachers in that area are not so easy to find.

Obviously, geography is relevant too. I have heard that Denver has an over-supply of psychologists and don't know about Pittburgh. There was a thread last year of a student deciding between UD and a Ph.D in the south. I think she went with the PhD--but you might try to find that thread for more thoughts.


5+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2009
There is a thread on this forum that is devoted specifically to Duquesne, do a search, def worth reading.

This is a really interesting dilemma b/c there seems to be some bias against both Duquesne's program and PsyDs, in general. As you mentioned, Duquesne espouses this Existential-Phenomenolgical orientation, which is ofter criticized b/c it's not mainstream enough, kinda "radical." On the other hand, it has been argued that the PsyD is an inferior degree, that PsyD graduates, on the whole, are not of the same caliber as PhD graduates, and that the PsyD may hinder you in obtaining certain positions (e.g., professorship).
I want to be clear that I do not necessarily endorse these opinions, rather I am trying to convey that these sentiments are out there, and you should be aware of them.

With that said, if either program is a strong match for your interests and passions, I say go for it!!!


Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
The Beach
On the other hand, it has been argued that the PsyD is an inferior degree, that PsyD graduates, on the whole, are not of the same caliber as PhD graduates, and that the PsyD may hinder you in obtaining certain positions (e.g., professorship).
Well put. Unfortunately there is some warranted and unwarranted negative opinions about Psy.D's out there, so it is important to make an informed decision. As a Psy.D. I sometimes get frustrated by some of the misconceptions out there ("Oh, you must love therapy" or "What if you want to teach?" or "You must not like research"), but I do my best to try and clear things up.