The next big question you need to ask yourself is what type of graduate degree you plan to earn? The Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) is what most people think of when they talk about a doctorate degree in psychology, but it is not your only option. You could also choose to earn a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. How do these two degree options differ? Typically, the Ph.D. degree tends to focus more on a scientific model and places a lot of emphasis on experimental methods and research. The Psy.D. degree is a newer option that focuses more on a practitioner model and emphasizes clinical work.
The type of degree you choose will depend largely on your career goals. Do you imagine doing research in addition to treating patients? Then the Ph.D. option might be a good fit for your needs. Would you prefer to focus purely on working with clients in a clinical setting? Then the Psy.D. degree might be well suited to your goals.
As part of your graduate training, you will also be required to complete an internship in a clinical setting. This is a great opportunity to gain practical experience in your field, receive mentoring from experienced psychologists and learn more about where you would like to work after completing all of your educational and training requirements.
Tips for Graduate Students:
- Volunteer to work with graduate faculty. This is a great way to find professional mentors and gain valuable experience in your field.
- Keep your grades high. Many graduate programs have minimum GPA requirements and if you drop below this level, you could get kicked out of the program.
- Consider choosing an area of specialization, such as childhood disorders or substance abuse.
- Start planning your thesis or dissertation early.
Read some great tips for surviving your first year of psychology graduate school.