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The age old question...Psychology PhD or PsyD

Sweet80Sweet80 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited April 2012 in Graduate School
I'm sure this has been asked already, so I apologize if this is redundant...

I keep hearing different views on which is a better program with respect your post success. That is, from one side I hear that a PhD is respected significantly more than a PsyD as PsyD programs tend to have less competitive admissions policies and the program is newer.

On the other hand, I am looking into clinical practice--not research or teaching. I have heard in this regard, there really is no difference.

I suppose it disturbs me that I cant seem to locate any rankings for PsyD programs which turns me off a bit. Can any one confirm or deny one way or the other?

Post edited by Sweet80 on

Replies to: The age old question...Psychology PhD or PsyD

  • apumicapumic Registered User Posts: 1,529 Senior Member
    Ph.D.s are generally looked upon a bit better but Psy.D.s are certainly not looked down upon much anymore IF you went to a good school/program. The best Psy.D. programs are funded and generally have almost as much of a research emphasis as a balanced Ph.D. (and are just as competitive). A Psy.D. OR a Ph.D. from a school like Alliant or Argosy is a joke and it really doesn't matter which degree you earned because the school's name speaks for itself.
    The best Psy.D. programs are almost without a doubt Rutgers, Baylor, Indiana U of Pennsylvia, and the Virginia Consortium (which is actually considering a conversion to a balanced Ph.D. program instead). All 4 are fully-funded programs and very well-respected.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Registered User Posts: 665 Member
    PhDs are looked upon much better. A Psy D is a BA with 3 yrs Masters really instead of a 2 yr Masters. I may be biased, I have a PhD, I hire and supervise both and the PhDs are much much better trained, educated, etc. It is the scientist v the technician.
  • apumicapumic Registered User Posts: 1,529 Senior Member
    Ramaswami, I'd say you're definitely biased, lol. While I agree that many Psy.D.s are not looked upon as well, I think it has more to do with the proliferation of poor quality Psy.D.s*; however, since Psy.D.s' primary goal is generally private practice or clinical work in administrative and therapeutic settings (i.e., not academia or research), their program reputation is generally less important and their training is more directly applicable to their work as clinicians (i.e., they need to be able to "consume" the research literature effectively but do not need so much training on actually contributing to that literature).
    My guess would be that the reason the Ph.D.s you have supervised have done better is that there certainly are many bad Psy.D. programs out there; however, to say that ALL Psy.D. programs are "nothing more than a 3 yr masters" is certainly inaccurate and, I would suspect, downright offensive to students in decent Psy.D. programs who actually are required to fulfill all of the typical Ph.D.-like requirement (i.e., formal dissertation, masters research project, have a mentor model of training, etc. -- the difference here being really only that the Psy.D.'s coursework focuses more on application to therapy than statistics and research methods).

    *I would argue that the real difference in quality is between types of schools; that is, programs can be broken down into 3 categories -- funded university depts, non-funded university programs, and professional schools.

    For a number of reasons, funded depts have the strongest programs (they get the most applicants due to a discounted education, which results in being the most competitive, and therefore they end up with the best students to begin with; their funding is limited, so they ONLY take the best students; their funding comes primarily from faculty research, in which students typically participate; students have access to all university resources -- including undergrad "guinea pigs" for research, clinical, and instructor training; most of these schools are at good to great research institutions, resulting in further excellent resources and the best faculty; and so forth);

    unfunded (and partially funded) programs at universities would generally come in second for many of the same reasons (generally less competitive than fully-funded but still quite competitive; faculty are likely earning at least some research grants; university resources and undergrads are available; etc.);

    finally, though, the professional schools really lack any of the strengths of the other programs (they generally accept at least half of their applicants; faculty are typically laughable psychologists themselves; there are no undergrads for research, clinical, or instructor training and practice; academic and professional resources and connections are limited; faculty are very limited in terms of breadth of knowledge; no accountability; etc.). As a result, we basically have a 3-tiered system of quality of training.

    For better or worse, most Psy.D. programs are in the 1st and 2nd categories, while many more Ph.D. programs inhabit the 1st and 2nd categories. Additionally, one program (Alliant or Argosy, forget which, as both are just plain bad) is infamous for being a 3rd tier (professional) program that actually boasts about graduating HALF of all clinical psychologists in the state of California EVERY YEAR! You'll notice, however, that the Psy.D. programs I suggested above are the 4 1st tier Psy.D. programs in the nation (of which I am aware -- to my knowledge, there are only 4). I agree that Alliant and Argosy (and other professional school) grads are probably of no better quality than your average (or even below average) LCSW.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Registered User Posts: 665 Member
    I have not read through your long post, therefore, please forgive me if I have overlooked some important comment of yours. Kindly do not take me too literally. There are good Psy D programs, and there are good psychologists with Psy D who graduated from bad Psy D programs just as there are lousy grads of Ph D programs.

    There is no comparison between the thesis required in Psy D and the dissertation in the PhD. There is also no comparison between the extensive years of coursework (before undertaking research) and supervised clinical practicums in the PhD and the Psy D. The grad seminars are also of a different order. The two programs attract different people, the PsyDs want a quick meal ticket.

    You can disagree and call me baised, etc but the Psy D is a substantially lesser degree. I am not going to sugarcoat my opinion.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Registered User Posts: 665 Member
    Sorry, did you say most Psy D programs are in first and second tier and then continue to say that more Ph D are in first and second tier. What are you trying to say? Most Psy D programs are in third and fourth tier.
  • apumicapumic Registered User Posts: 1,529 Senior Member
    Sorry, I made a typo in that last bit. What I meant to say was that most Ph.D.s (but not all; for example, schools such as Argosy and Alliant actually give out "Ph.D.s" like candy along with their "Psy.D.") are in the 1st and 2nd tier, while most Psy.D.s are in the 2nd and 3rd. You could break tiers up further of course, but the criteria I gave are, in my opinion, relatively simple and usable by others who look at this thread (i.e., it's not too hard to figure out if the school is part of a university and finding out whether the program is funded should be one of your first tasks when looking at schools).

    As for program models, I'm not really sure either model does a good job of preparing psychologists for where mental health seems to be headed. I'd actually rather see the Psy.D. drop to a 2 yrs didactic psych coursework, 1 yr research (since that's not really the primary focus of education), 2 yrs intensive biomed training model, so that prescribing privileges could be better argued for as training would be mental health specific but at the same generalist level as a P.A. or even an N.P. if it were designed properly and above the level of an M.D. (prior to a psychiatric residency, obviously) when it comes to psychopharm -- and require a pre-med-level (or better) pre-reqs with additional coursework at the allied health level in such classes as anatomy, physiology, and neurobiology at the UG level in addition to research and psych courses; finally, the internship would be post-doc and be a 3-year required residency prior to licensure (so a 5-year Psy.D. w/ a 3-yr residency). I agree that the Psy.D. does not currently offer anything the Ph.D. does not (it is basically a clinically focused "light" or watered-down Ph.D.).

    And I'm not really invested in this topic (i.e., not in a Psy.D. program) to be honest, so I have no reason to take offense. I simply think that to call down fire on seemingly all students with a given degree is a bit much. From what I have heard from programs, I see no evidence that "seminars are of a different order" or that all Psy.D. programs train their students to a lesser degree than do Ph.D. programs. There is a spectrum of quality for programs in both models.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Registered User Posts: 665 Member
    apumic, thanks for the clarification. I was probably too dismissive, I concede, and we are closer, you have summed up the matter well. Thanks.
  • claudia12claudia12 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    The two programs attract different people, the PsyDs want a quick meal ticket.

    Really? A quick meal ticket? Please explain because that makes no sense to me. It seems as if you need to look into the subject more.
  • psychmamapsychmama Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    What do you want to do with your degree? If you want tenure track academia or to conduct full-time research in a medical center you're usually better off with the PhD. If you need full funding, be warned that there are only a few PsyD programs that fully fund all of their doctoral students.

    On the other hand, if you're more interested in practice than pure research there are some excellent PsyD programs based in universities. I'd try to avoid Argosy, Aliiant and other large professional schools. They are almost always very expensive and the quality of the education can be sketchy. I attended Rutgers and was very happy with my training.
  • OyamaOyama Registered User Posts: 2,486 Senior Member
    Having been part of the SDN forums for quite some time, it seems that a PsyD is an easy way to not land an internship post-grad. The entire clinical psychology scope has been fleeting with preference for hiring LCSWs as often as possible, meaning a somewhat oversaturated market as it is.

    Besides that, whether it's because of the PsyD being new, or for it only emphasizing clinical practice and not research, or what may have you, there is an implicit preference for hiring Ph.D. at the internship and psychologist level (and of course professor level) that is deepening the current problem with recent grads not being able to land a job.

    This could have been changing the past year or so that I've been keeping up with APA/APPIC matching trends, so I could be outdated.
  • bodmerocitybodmerocity Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    "The entire clinical psychology scope has been fleeting with preference for hiring LCSWs as often as possible, meaning a somewhat oversaturated market as it is."

    Oyama (if you're still around): Why is there a preference for LCSWs?

    *thread resurrected*
  • Onetogo2Onetogo2 Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    For clinical type jobs this often is because of managed care funding. An increasing number of insurance companies have lowered the rate of reimbursement such that they pay only the rate charged by an MSW/masters level practitioner. It's an unfortunate equation of believing all mental health practitioners offer the same services to patients and choosing to reimburse at the lowest price rather than recognizing that "you get what you pay for" . Also, of course, MSW's are cheaper to hire than Ph.D's
This discussion has been closed.