Earning a Ph.D. in Psychology Online
Earning a Ph.D. in psychology online provides a path for advancement in the psychology field. Many students in these programs want to practice clinically, as the Ph.D. typically serves as the required degree for clinical practice. This degree also prepares students to work as educators, teaching psychology courses at colleges and universities, as well as overseeing required supervised practice for those still fulfilling licensure requirements. Psychologists work in a range of fields and industries, including private clinical practice, inside hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and even in corporate and business office settings as organizational psychologists.
An online Ph.D. in psychology offers learners a flexible format for completing coursework without the requirement of attending classes on campus. Keep reading to learn more about the Ph.D. in psychology and what it takes to earn this degree.
What Can You Do with a Ph.D. in Psychology?
Although many psychologists work in private practices or provide services within larger healthcare facilities, these professionals work in a variety of industries and environments. Psychologists possess strong communication and mediation skills. They work closely with other people, whether in one-on-one therapeutic settings or within larger groups, so boasting exceptional people skills serves a psychologist well. Keep reading to learn about specific career paths for graduates of online Ph.D. programs in psychology.
Annual Median Salary: $77,030
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
These professionals examine various aspects of human behavior, and use what they find to help clients and patients overcome various emotional issues. A master's degree often stands as the minimum to practice within industrial or organizational settings. However, for clinical practice, psychologists must hold licensure, which requires a Ph.D. in the field.
Annual Median Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
These individuals teach courses at two- and four-year universities. They may also complete specific departmental and administrative duties, such as sitting on committees and serving as department chairs.
Traits of a Successful Psychologist
Psychologists practicing clinically must possess skills in a variety of areas. These professionals often work with various types of computer software for keeping track of patient records, including accounting and scheduling programs. Psychologists must demonstrate a wide foundational knowledge of psychological concepts and counseling practice. They must also possess a strong command of the English language in order to communicate effectively with clients. Psychologists often also maintain a working knowledge of current legislation and policy regarding practice in the mental health field, as well as any public safety and security policies protecting both patients and professionals in the field.
Salary by Experience Level
Although earning your online Ph.D. in psychology serves as one way to potentially earn more, experience rises as the primary factor for higher earnings. Psychologists generally earn more later in their career for a variety of reasons. Experience strengthens skills and warrants higher salaries for practicing psychologists. The table below outlines psychologist earnings, based on experience level.
Pay by Experience Level for Psychologists
- Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
- Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
- Experienced (10-20 Years):
- Late-Career (20+ Years):
Certifications and Licenses a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology Prepares For
- Licensed Psychologist: Earning an online Ph.D. in psychology from an APA-accredited program qualifies you to earn your formal licensure to practice psychology clinically. Most states require a doctorate in psychology, around 1,500 hours of supervised clinical practice, and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
- School Psychology Specialization: Those with licensure in psychology can also pursue an additional specialization in school psychology. This specialization prepares you to work within educational settings and address learning and behavioral issues of children to adolescents. This specialization requires some continuing education work past the doctorate.
- Forensic Psychology Specialization: Forensic psychology involves providing psychiatric diagnoses as necessary for criminal or legal trials. These psychologists work within the legal system in a variety of capacities, sometimes standing as expert witnesses upon evaluating a patient. You must possess a license in psychology to earn this specialization.
Steps to Earning a Ph.D. in Psychology Online
The process to earning a Ph.D. in psychology online varies by school and program, so your distance education experience may differ from the example below. However, the list below outlines the steps most common for this degree.
Curriculum for an Online Ph.D. in Psychology
Although classes differ, the courses below serve as examples of what you might expect to take while earning your online Ph.D. in psychology.
- Research Methods: A Ph.D. involves a great deal of research. This course, sometimes split into multiple courses by research type, covers qualitative and quantitative research methodologies students may use in clinical practice or during their dissertation research process. Certain specialities may emphasize more quantitative coursework than qualitative.
- Psychopharmacology: Although a psychiatry degree entails earning a medical license prior to practice, all psychologists must possess foundational knowledge of psychopharmacology. This course details the different types of medications used to treat cognitive and behavioral disorders, how to diagnose these disorders, and when to refer patients to psychiatry for treatment.
- Psychological Statistics: In conjunction with research courses, students may also take courses in statistics emphasizing specific types of statistical methods used in psychological research. Courses in psychological statistics may cover foundational statistical methods and practical applications in the psychology field. Students may also learn to read and understand statistical findings in research.
- Teaching of Psychology: Some graduates of online psychology Ph.D. programs go on to teach at the postsecondary level. The Ph.D. curriculum often includes courses in psychological pedagogy, emphasizing methods for teaching introductory, undergraduate, and graduate courses in various areas of psychology. These pedagogy courses may also include information on different learning outcomes and standards that instructors must meet in these courses.
- Lifespan Development: A course in lifespan development traces the various developmental processes that occur from birth to adulthood. This may cover both physiological and psychological development, including how brain development affects cognitive skills and behavior throughout the lifespan. Students may also cover implications for clinical practice.
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