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Psychology Doctorate Degree
The Top of the Ladder
A Ph.D. in psychology is the gold standard of degrees if you are hoping to go into professional counseling as a career. Only a degree in psychiatry – an actual medical degree obtained only by completing medical school – could be considered to surpass a Ph.D. in Psychology as a career qualification in counseling. This degree is perhaps the most powerful lever in achieving careers in social services, and all forms of licensed psychiatric counseling.
The Professional Standards
- An M.A. in psychology
- The advantage of a Ph.D.
- A long career road.
Preparing for a Ph.D.
The majority of Ph.D. programs in psychology in the United States are structured on the assumption that a candidate for a graduate program will have obtained an M.A. in psychology prior to pursuing a Ph.D. Fortunately an M.A., while challenging and expensive, can be a useful career qualification in its own right, allowing a graduate student the option of functioning as a professional on the lower levels of counseling while working to obtain a doctoral degree to complete the training. An M.A. with associated practicum can be sufficient to allow a student to be licensed for such basic forms of counseling as family counseling, marriage counseling, and school psychiatrist. In many instances students may prefer to remain at this level, rather than pursuing an advanced academic degree.
A Ph.D. in psychology is not a medical degree; it’s a doctoral degree in philosophy, and is considered a specialized degree in the study of the mind. However a psych Ph.D. remains a science-heavy degree, demanding statistics studies, on the correct structure of tests and demographically based studies, on elements of neurology and brain structure and more. For many who desire the degree, it’s a researcher’s degree, aimed at opening up academic careers dedicated to learning the secrets of human thought.
Another portion of those seeking a Ph.D. wish to advance as professional counselors or in fields that draw heavily on a knowledge of psychiatry. May upper levels of case worker in social services hold doctoral degrees in psychology. The degree, with its rigorous study of various forms of mental illness and dysfunction offers insight into effective approaches and management techniques for difficult cases.
The degree can also prove useful in less obvious careers, including mediation, diplomacy, and police work. There are positions for Ph.D. Psych holders in the military, in schools and universities, and in religious institutions.
Planning a Route to a Ph.D. in Psychology
The goal of a Ph.D. is ambitious. The degree alone can take five to seven years, not counting time spent getting a bachelor’s and a prior M.A.. The expense of graduate school is high, often costing as much per year or more than a degree holder can expect earn per year in a later career. As a result great care should be taken when planning such a degree. In many cases before making any final decisions you should seek advice from a range of sources: career counselors; professional agencies such as referral agencies who are well placed to help you evaluate the career openings such a degree will open up; practicing professionals; grant writers, and more can be used as sources of vital information on the challenge facing you, as well as the more traditional academic counseling you should also obtain.
A financial adviser would be one of your better consultants. The investment of time and money, and the many years likely to be spent paying off the cost of an advanced degree.