How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Psychology?

Ready to start your journey?
How long does it take to get a Doctorate in Psychology? That depends on whether you're looking to earn a PhD or PsyD and whether you want to go full-time or not.

How long does it take to get a Doctorate in Psychology? That depends on whether you’re looking to earn a PhD or PsyD and whether you want to go full-time or not.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Psychology

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The major differences in time to completion will be whether you’re going part-time or full-time and whether you need to write a dissertation or not.

What Education is Needed to Become a Psychologist?

psychologist listening to a patient during therapy session

Psychologists work closely with individuals to teach them coping skills and provide necessary training to work through mental health issues and other related problems. They often evaluate patients and complete a variety of assessments to give a clear picture of:

  • Cognitive Ability
  • Intellectual Ability
  • Vocational Ability

They are also called upon to diagnose mental health problems. According to Psychology Today, it takes anywhere from four to seven years to complete your Doctorate in Psychology. The time required to complete a traditional or online degree in psychology depends on the educational route you take.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The US Department of Labor Statistics suggests you pursue a doctorate education if you are interested in becoming a psychologist. They go on to explain that you can enter the field with a master’s degree, but to get licensed, you must earn a doctorate. A PhD in this field will usually take longer to complete than a PsyD.

Do You Need a Masters to Get a PhD in Psychology?

Get a PhD in Psychology

There is more than one route to gaining your PhD in Psychology. The typical path does not include a master’s degree.

When you decide that psychology is your field of choice, you can begin applying to universities who offer doctorates in psychology after you have achieved the bachelor’s degree level. A number of universities offer accelerated psychology degree online programs.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

If you do decide you want a master’s degree before moving to the next level, make sure the school you enroll also offers the doctorate that you desire. Many schools do not allow you to transfer credits from a mater’s degree from a different school to their doctorate’s degree program.

PhD in Psychology students studying together

  1. A Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD, is a degree that is a degree focused on original research. This degree requires you to take an exam to show you have the skills needed to be effective in this field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this degree program calls for courses on statistics and experimental procedures.

  1. A Doctor of Psychology, or PsyD, is a degree fit for those looking to provide services for people who have psychological needs. Participants in this degree may not prefer the research and teaching path.
  2. A Doctor of Education or EdD is a degree in education, but it is closely related to the psychology field. Many schools of psychology degrees in the same area as education. With the right qualifications, you can use this degree to allow you to go into the counseling field.
  3. An Education Specialist Degree, or the EdS, is an opportunity to advance your learning to a higher level without having the time and cost investment needed for the other degrees. This degree can open doors to careers in curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, and school psychology.

PhD in Psychology students attending a class in university

Each of these degrees can lead to a lucrative career as a psychologist if you are willing to put in the time and effort it will take.

There is a significant difference between the PsyD and the Ph.D. The Ph.D. requires you to complete a well-researched dissertation and complete a comprehensive exam. This degree is based more on research than clinical areas and can take five to seven years to complete.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The PsyD usually takes four to six years to finish but does not require a dissertation. This degree is more clinical.

Example of PhD Program at Brown University

PhD Program at Brown University

Brown University has four primary requirements that you must meet before to complete the PhD process.

  1. You must apply and receive acceptance into the program. Before you apply, make sure you have all the qualifications to be eligible for approval.
  2. Most people can expect to spend about three full-time years on the academics needed to complete the program. If you have a master’s degree from Brown University, then two full-time years of academics will be required for the doctorate. Brown does not always accept master’s degree credits earned from another school.
  3. After completing the required course work, students at Brown will advance to candidacy to assess if the student can begin the dissertation process. Brown will expect candidates to pass a final assessment in their field of study before being approved to move forward.
  4. The last step is writing an original research paper that relates to your field of study. Dissertations can take students one to five years to write. After the dissertation is complete, you can submit it for approval by the Graduate Council.

A PhD can be obtained in any field of study and can help students excel in the career of their choice. All information above comes from Brown University.

Example of PsyD from the University of Colorado Denver

PsyD from the University of Colorado Denver

A PsyD program from The University of Colorado Denver helps students meet the standards needed to complete the State Licenses Exam to become state Board Psychologists. To achieve this degree, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. 75 credit hours of coursework
  2. Seven credit hours of practice in working in this field
  3. Six credit hours of training in a workplace environment
  4. Eight credit hours of internship
  5. Four capstone project hours

Finally, you will need to pass the School Psychology Praxis exam and a written, comprehensive examination before your program is complete. This information is from the University of Colorado Denver.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Psychology?

psychology student studying in a library

A PhD in psychology is one of the most popular postgraduate degrees. Students who are interested in this field should choose one of the graduate programs in psychology with no GRE requirement.

It generally takes four to six years, after gaining your bachelor’s degree, to complete.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The dissertation is part of the degree process that can take the most time for many students.

How Many Years Does It Take to Get a PhD in Psychology if You Go Part-Time?

PhD in Psychology students in class

According to the American Psychology Association, you can earn a PhD in Psychology, even if you need to be a part-time student. The requirements of the program are the same for both full and part-time students, but part-time students may have five to seven years to complete the program.

All schools do not allow part-time students in doctorate programs, so be sure to talk with schools you are interested in before you enroll. The required internship for a PhD is one of the difficulties that a part-time student could face. The availability of a part-time internship is not as high as the demand.

The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers have hundreds of internships but only 17 part-time placements.

How Much Does a Psychologist Make?

Psychologist Careers and Salary

There are many types of careers available for those who have a PhD in Psychology. You can find work in places such as schools, hospitals, and Mental Health Facilities.

See the table below for some examples of careers and salary expectations for someone with a PhD in Psychology.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Psychologist $82,180
Counseling and School Psychologist $79,820
Psychology Professor $78,180

These careers are only a small example of the many occupations offered in this field. All information in this table comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a PhD in Psychology?

PhD in Psychology students studying in library

Gaining a PhD in Psychology can take a full-time student 4-6 years to complete the program. If you go to school part-time, you can complete the program in 5-7 years.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The length to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology or any other specialization is typically four years and is a requirement in order to be considered for a PhD program.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctoral Degree?

The process for most doctoral degrees in any field is very similar. You should complete all academic course work for your area of study and a dissertation.

The process usually takes 4-6 years to complete, but it will depend on your specific program and personal situation.

Accreditation for an Online Psychology Doctorate Degree

Accreditation for an Online Psychology Doctorate Degree

College accreditation is essential to consider when choosing the program best for you. Being accredited shows a school’s doctoral, internship, or postdoctoral residency programs that can provide a high standard of education values.

There are several regional accreditations available for an entire school as well as programmatic accreditation for a Psychology programs. The most well-known programmatic accreditor is the American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association building

When you graduate from an APA accredited school, you should have the skills you need for a career in psychology. You should learn to provide evidence-based clinical service that can help you to better serve in your community with mental health-related issues and much more.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Many facilities in the US required potential applicants to have a degree from an APA accredited program.

Regional Accreditation

Each of the 6 regional bodies accredits schools by reviewing quality assurance and institutional improvement.

They will require the schools to do self-studies and then complete comprehensive evaluations and close monitoring to help the school keep high standards and expectations.

Financial Aid for a Doctoral Degree in Psychology

Financial Aid for a Doctoral Degree in Psychology

Federal financial aid can provide grants and low-interest loans. Many graduate and postsecondary schools offer scholarships and grants for all levels of education. Eligibility will depend on a student’s financial need, accomplishments, community service. Often, new students are given priority for scholarship opportunities.

There are many other ways to help fund your education. You must be willing to apply and provide all the necessary paperwork to qualify for aid. Here are some places to look to help get assistance in paying for your Doctoral Degree in Psychology.

There are often other types of financial aid. You should talk to your school, community agencies, and your current employer to find out more.

Is a PhD in Psychology Worth It? What About a PsyD?

psychologist talking to a girl with her mother during therapy session

Yes, a PhD in Psychology can be worth it for many students. The same goes for a PsyD. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life, physical, and social science jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations. Common careers in this field include psychology professor, clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and developmental psychologist.

If you are interested in bettering your career in psychology, gaining more knowledge in your field of study, then a doctorate is worth your efforts. A PhD and a PsyD can help you to become an expert in your area.

Higher education can open many doors for you in your future endeavors and can help you started in the career you have been wanting.

Ready to start your journey?
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.