Mental Health Careers--Doctoral Degree in Psychology

male PhD psychologist working at the computer in his office Moving from a Psychology degree to a Doctoral Degree in Psychology in Mental Health

With your Psychology degree, you can move on to earn a Doctoral degree. A Doctoral degree will allow you to work in various areas of mental health--university, private clinic, a non-profit organization, or government. There is always the option of being in private practice.

Clinical (PhD or PsyD)--concerned with psychopathological (mental health disorders) populations and behavioral health.

Counseling (PhD)--concerned with vocational and career processes, human diversity, and professional training. Click here for a great link from Dr. Jospeh Hammer about all issues related to Counseling Psychology.

School (PhD)--concerned with the science and practice of psychology with children and the schooling process--involves a large percentage of time assessing children for learning disabilities

Non-profit Organizations/Government Agencies (Phd or PsyD)--concerned with organization/agencies that are designed to further a specific purpose or mission

Program and Policy Consultants (PhD or PsyD)--offer expert advice to various organization, government agencies, etc.

If you choose to go into Clinical Psychology you can earn one of two degrees--a PhD (Doctor of Philosphy) or a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology). Generally speaking, getting accepted into a Clinical PhD program is much harder than getting accepted into a PsyD program. In the other career areas listed above you typically receive a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). One thing to note if you go for a PhD is that you must first complete a Master's (MA or MS) degree, either from the same school or another school. Also, a PhD will generally takes 4-6 years to complete your dissertation (research project). A PsyD takes a little less time to complete than a PhD, and it does not involve a research project. Finally, note that when you are working toward your PhD you do NOT pay tuition--you get a tuition waiver. In addition, you usually receive what is called a salary (called a "stipend" for working as a Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant). Those working toward a PsyD typically receive neither a tuition waiver nor a stipend.

Remember that both a PhD and a PsyD offer greater job opportunities and a greater salary than a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Also, both a PhD and a PsyD allow you to be licensed by a state to do certain activities (e.g., testing, therapy). Read about a comparison between Masters and PhD degrees in psychology here. Also, read about a comparison between a PhD and a PsyD here.

To learn more about applying to Psychology graduate school school check out the following:

American Psychological Association

Mitch’s Guide

If you are considering going to graduate school for a Doctoral Degree involving Mental Health, it is important to keep in mind that gaining acceptance to a Doctoral Degree graduate program is very competitive. This is especially true for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology, where the acceptance rate for any particular school is nly about 2-4%--now that's tough. But, if you have the grades and GRE scores you should go for it, apply to a good number of schools, and do all of the things you can do to boost the level of your application--read the "steps" link below. In addition, it is very important that you wok hard to stand out among the competition. Ways you can do this include (especially if you are in college) gaining experience by working as an assistant in a mental health clinic or gaining research experience. With regard to the latter, this is especially important if you are applying to a PhD program which emphasizes research, and if you have the chance to do a senior thesis, do it--that would really stand out .

Salary Information lists the median yearly income for a PhD in Clinical Psychology at $80,000. lists the median yearly income for a PhD in Counseling Psychology at $85,000. lists the median yearly income for a PhD in Experimental Psychology (all fields: higher ed, industry, research applied fields) at $92,000. lists the average yearly income for a PsyD at $77,000.

Click here to see career salary information for ALL careers listed in

Click here to read about choosing between a PhD and a PsyD.

Click here to read about important steps for Mental Health Careers with a Graduate Degree.

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Click on the links below to read about other Mental Health careers that only require a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology:

Mental Health Careers--Mental Health Technician

Mental Health Careers--Social Work Assistant

Mental Health Careers-Foster Care Case Manager

Click on the links below to read about other Mental Health careers that require a Master's Degree:

Mental Health Careers--Genetic Counselor

Mental Health Careers--Licensed Professional Counselor

Mental Health Careers--Marriage and Family Therapist

Mental Health Careers--Master of Social Work

Mental Health Careers--Master's in Psychology

Mental Health Careers--Pastoral Counseling

Mental Health Careers--School Counseling

Mental Health Careers--Substance Abuse Counselor

Mental Health Careers--Applied Behavior Analyst

Click on the link below to read about another Mental Health carees that requires a Doctoral or Professional Degree:

Mental Health Careers--Psychiatrist