There are three types of graduate programs in psychology:
- Master's Degree programs: Two-year programs that can help you get into a doctoral program or further a career.
- Ph.D. programs: These programs lead to the Doctor of Philosophy degree. These programs teach research skills as well as give training to provide psychological services. (Which one is right for you?)
- Psy.D. programs: These programs lead to the Doctor of Psychology degree, which is a professional degree. These programs focus on the application of psychological science.
Not all our graduates who go on to graduate school do so to study more psychology. Many of our majors go to professional graduate schools in education, law, business, or medicine; and others who go to graduate school study completely different disciplines.
There are many different reasons to earn a doctoral in psychology:
- You want to become a clinical psychologist.
- You want to become a researcher in a sub-field of psychology.
- You want to teach psychology at the college level.
- An advanced degree will help in the non-psychology career you wish to enter.
Graduate work is very difficult. It is fun only if you are very interested and self-motivated. Graduate school is not a good place for delaying career decisions or avoiding honest labor. Money shouldn't be your primary motivation, either. If your reason for graduate work is only because you think you'll make a lot of money afterwards, then you are likely to be unhappy in graduate school and in your later career.
A doctoral program is not the same as just doing a few more undergraduate years. This work is far more intense, and the workload much heavier. The entire point of a doctoral degree is to learn to expand the knowledge of our field into new territory. To go where no psychologist has gone before. Your professors can offer you limited support with that. You will work harder in a graduate program than you ever have or ever will again. To be successful, you must really want the education, or the workload will be impossible.
The usual time from a B.A. to doctorate is four to five years. Most M.A. programs take two years. It usually takes three years to go from an M.A. to a Ph.D., for a total of five years. The American Psychology Association has tools and more information that can help you select which program is best for you.