Aug 11, 2017
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Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. I have recently graduated with my bachelors in a non-psych major. However, after graduation and a lot of time to think, I have realized that clinical psych is my true goal and passion. After doing a lot of research, I really thought PsyD programs were right for me as I do not have a ton of research experience (I worked in a research lab my senior year but it focused on consumer behavior) and although I am pretty interested in research, I think clinical experience is more important to me. I have decent grades from a very good university and I am planning on spending the next year taking pre-req psych classes at a local university while applying for programs.

However, after reading some threads on here, it seems like there is a general feeling that PsyD programs are not entirely worth it. I have done my research and was only planning on applying to programs with APA internship matches and licensure percentages over 80%. Are even these top schools not worth it? Do you think I can accomplish my goals of being a clinical psychologist through other means like PhD (no debt) or a masters program (shorter)? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I'm really starting to freak out about making the wrong decision.
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
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Most people with PhDs are primarily clinicians. Any decent PhD program will also prepare you for a clinical career. On average, PhD students actually have more clinical experience than PsyD students at the time of internship (at least last I checked). Accordingly, I'm honestly hard-pressed to think of any reason to focus on PsyD programs beyond them generally being easier to get into for someone with limited research experience. However, that is generally not true for the "better" PsyD programs, which will largely be indistinguishable from a balanced PhD program. In general, I think one is generally far better served to spend 1-2 years gaining research experience than taking on 100k+ in debt (versus minimal/none) and most likely coming out with fewer options.

PsyDs were originally intended to provide more focused clinical training. Unfortunately, the typical implementation is they just provide <less> research training, not really any extra clinical training and (from what I have seen), the clinical training often seems to be worse among many of the programs, especially in areas that are increasingly important (EBP, etc.).

So in sum - yes I would consider PhDs for sure. A master's is also potentially a good option. Honestly, I feel many of the mediocre PsyD programs are basically the same as a master's - just more expensive.
 

erg923

Regional Clinical Officer, Centene Corporation
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Apr 6, 2007
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If the government didn't prevent people from drowning via through programs like "income-based repayment", nobody would go to most psyd programs anymore.

It's $200,000 in debt (with interest) for a modal salary of 80, 000 a year. It makes no sense.
 
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foreverbull

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Sep 8, 2015
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Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. I have recently graduated with my bachelors in a non-psych major. However, after graduation and a lot of time to think, I have realized that clinical psych is my true goal and passion. After doing a lot of research, I really thought PsyD programs were right for me as I do not have a ton of research experience (I worked in a research lab my senior year but it focused on consumer behavior) and although I am pretty interested in research, I think clinical experience is more important to me. I have decent grades from a very good university and I am planning on spending the next year taking pre-req psych classes at a local university while applying for programs.

However, after reading some threads on here, it seems like there is a general feeling that PsyD programs are not entirely worth it. I have done my research and was only planning on applying to programs with APA internship matches and licensure percentages over 80%. Are even these top schools not worth it? Do you think I can accomplish my goals of being a clinical psychologist through other means like PhD (no debt) or a masters program (shorter)? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I'm really starting to freak out about making the wrong decision.
PsyDs are fine, but in here there is bias against them and some phds look down on them. Not all do, though. I've worked alongside psyds and phds, and the clinical training was similar, just fewer research/statistics courses for psyds. In the general public, no one cares about the differences; you end up with the same job prospects. Two of my past supervisors had psyds...and it didn't matter to me. They weren't any less or more equipped to supervise me compared to my phd supervisors.

Also, 2/3 of grad students come out with loan debt, and several people I know came out of public universities with loan debt. I'm not sure why people assume that only psyd programs graduate students with loan debt....many programs do. Cost of living of the city you live in, savings coming in to shool, and whether you have a partner who works full time (or you have to support) will all affect loan amounts.

If you are completely certain a psyd is a better fit, Why not go for it? Just make sure you have a sense of costs/funding issues going in. Do some thorough searching!
 
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Dec 4, 2014
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Like Ollie said, the good PsyD programs are basically indistinguishable from most PhD programs. You've just got to make sure you know what qualities to look for in any program to be able to gage the difference. The amount of debt you would finish with is an important factor that you should not allow your eagerness to overlook. I know folks from phd programs who graduated with hefty debt too-- but in the cases I know they also carried debt over from undergrad, which continued accruing interest, or didn't have the foresight/ willpower to keep expenses low. The psyd folks I know do, on average, have more debt coming out.

you might as well go for it. It's not a total rarity that folks without an undergrad psych major go into clinical. Just might take you a little longer to get there since you have to take time to take more classes and get more research experience, but so long as you can manage that financially, that's no big deal.
 
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Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
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Also, 2/3 of grad students come out with loan debt, and several people I know came out of public universities with loan debt. I'm not sure why people assume that only psyd programs graduate students with loan debt....many programs do. Cost of living of the city you live in, savings coming in to shool, and whether you have a partner who works full time (or you have to support) will all affect loan amounts.
Its not a strict PhD/PsyD dichotomy (many prof schools offer PhDs too, though why and what on earth they do there I don't fully understand as they rarely have substantive research going on). Anyone can take on debt and you are correct that many do. When you look at the numbers, there is a huge discrepancy though and I'm sure that would be further inflated if you considered only university-based PhDs.

Even if we assume all PhD students did have debt - most people would be far better off being paid 20k/year, getting near-free tuition and taking out 20k/year to supplement lifestyle than they would taking out 200k in student loans and 40k/year in living expenses. Even if it means taking 1-2 years off.
 

Sanman

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As others have stated, PsyD or PhD has very little in the way of difference outside academia. Whatever path you choose, just be fiscally responsible. My rule of thumb, whatever degree you pursue, is that total cost of education should be equal or below 1 year average salary when complete.
 
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