Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) Programs

Psychology PhD Programs prepare students to make contributions to an organization through the use of theory and research. This person can work in many industries including government, education, private practice, health care, and social services. Job titles include researcher, consultant, director of career services, teacher, marketing director, political strategist, human resource manager, and staff psychologist. Some roles in clinical and counseling psychology may require state licensure, in addition to a formal degree. Clients vary in age, treating people from children to older adults.

Degree programs also vary by specialty, such as clinical, counseling, educational, forensics, social, organizational, general, or health. Choose a program that complements your learning style. Some online programs integrate research with practical expertise. Other programs may require face to face residencies, internships, and practicum. The expertise of faculty will vary as well, with many programs being taught by respected researchers and practitioners. Faculty are often available to provide mentorship and support through the dissertation process. Let’s take a look at what psychology PhD programs have to offer:

  1. Foundation for Graduate Study in Psychology – All students will initially receive an initial course in writing and critical thinking skills. These two skills are very important when working with clients, researching, and providing counseling.
  2. Introduction to Clinical Psychology- Discusses a variety of counseling practices, professional competencies, ethical, multicultural, and emerging issues.
  3. Business Concepts- provides a background in topics such as finance, marketing, accounting, strategic planning, quality, and process improvement.
  4. A course in social cognition will orient the student with elements of social psychology such as bias, attitudes, influences, memory, and behaviors relative to self.
  5. Survey Research Methods- covers a full range of techniques administered, in person, self reporting, telephone, and Internet, as well as a review of theoretical and empirical research on questions and their impact on questionnaires.
  6. Courses on attitudes will make the connection between attitudes and behavior and how attitudes change through persuasion.
  7. Intergroup Relations- explores prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, group decision-making, social dilemmas, bargaining and negotiation, leadership, language and identity, and group structure and socialization.
  8. All psychology PhD programs will provide a course on the history and systems of psychology which will provide background from a historical and philosophical perspective of psychology and counseling. Topics of structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis will be discussed.
  9. A course in interventions will explore counseling skills in the context of empirically supported modes of intervention. Students participate in treatment planning exercises, clinical vignettes, and simulated psychotherapy sessions. Some intervention classes will discuss the challenges in living with severe mental disorders within certain populations. Intervention models, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered therapy, short-term dynamics, and integrative psychotherapy are examined.
  10. Courses in lifespan development will help the student understand the milestones that occur within the various stages of development from prenatal, childhood, adolescent, adult, to late adulthood.
  11. The psychology of personality is a concept which the graduate student needs to understand. Research that supports various theories is presented for topics such as psychoanalytical, biological, behaviorist, learning, and aspects of personality which could include cultural, individual, and gender differences.

These courses are just some examples of what a graduate student will be exposed to during her studies. The curriculum is designed to prepare the graduate with the necessary knowledge and skills to work with clients with varied and diverse levels of problems. A student is also taught how to work with culturally diverse populations and the necessity of collaborating with psychiatric or other healthcare providers. Students will also review the history of counseling psychology and learn about different specialties in the field.

Doctorate in Psychology

Psychology is a broad discipline that involves the study of human and animal behaviors. This discipline is about 125 years old and spans from topics from biology, brain function, behavior, sociology, the environment, and behavior. Psychologists are sometimes considered scientists and innovators in their profession because of the theories and tests they conduct through basic and applied research. The research they conduct may result in new information that may be used to care for future clients and patients. A psychologist may work with a team of professionals or work independently. These jobs may be found in schools and universities, law enforcement, health care, government, and corporate offices. They may study both normal and abnormal functioning and treat patients with mental and emotional problems, business executives, and athletes, or act as consultants on legal or public health issues. When you are a psychologist, you must keep up with the diversity of cultural and societal changes. This means that when you are a psychologist, your education never ends.

According to the Department of Labor, job opportunities for individuals with a doctorate in psychology are expected to grow between 10% – 20% through the year 2018. This is partly due to our society becoming more conscious of how to make healthy behavior a routine part of living. Psychologists contribute to this shift in mindset by carefully collecting data, analyzing it, and developing intervention strategies that Americans can adapt in the home and in the workplace.

The computer revolution is changing the way we conduct our lives and do business. Psychologists conduct research to help humans adapt to new technologies and knowledge. Most companies have a diverse workforce and need to meet the needs of different ethnic groups. Diversity extends to not only ethnicity but encompasses different socioeconomic groups, genders, and races. Psychologists help employers make cultural changes to adapt to the needs of their workforce. This is an exciting time for psychologists in the field who are now asked to conduct research on projects and work in challenging ways in which they have never previously worked.

Doctorate in Psychology

Aside from the traditional career route of research and counseling that most psychologists used to pursue, a doctorate in psychology will open doors to new opportunities. Some interesting branches in psychology include:

  1. Cognitive and perceptual psychology
  2. Educational psychology
  3. Engineering psychology
  4. Evolutional psychology
  5. Experimental psychology
  6. Forensic psychology
  7. Health psychology
  8. Industrial organizational psychology
  9. Neuropsychology
  10. Quantitative and measurement
  11. Rehabilitation
  12. School Psychology
  13. Social Psychology
  14. Sports Psychology

Graduates with a doctorate in psychology are excited by the changes taking place in the field and report the highest job satisfaction, largest salaries, and greatest range of jobs. Jobs in health care are expected to grow quicker than mental health and substance abuse ones, and private companies will most likely use psychologists expertise to conduct employee tests, surveys, and marketing research. Employee assistance programs should also spur job growth. Psychologists with a background in quantitative research methods and computer science will have a competitive edge over other applicants. Schools, government, and local agencies are expected to increase counseling and mental health services.

The projection for the number of doctoral graduates should remain steady over the next decade with unemployment for psychologists being lower as compared to other professions. Although many new opportunities have appeared for this group, still more than half decide to pursue a research career in academia.

A doctorate in psychology provides entry into an extraordinary field with many different career paths. Regardless of the specialty the individual chooses, all psychologists are interested in understanding the mind and behaviors. Some psychologists work in a laboratory, at a university or government agency, where the study conditions are carefully controlled. Others work at schools, hospitals, or within workplaces to study behavior where it normally occurs. Psychologists can help people learn by studying the effectiveness of teaching and student learning. In recent years, a lot of work has gone into improving our country’s educational system. It is important to be able to identify learning and behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and cognitive deficits. Our nation is also interested to learn how to develop individual educational plans for students with special needs.

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