How Long Does It Take To Get A PhD in Psychology?

Earning a PhD in Psychology is a common pathway to being professionally successful. Learn how to long it takes to earn a Ph.D. in psychology in this article.

Updated by TCM Staff on 28th October 2020

Psychology is one of the few fields during which most students know that a doctorate degree is an important part of their professional success. 

There is a spread of careers that a Bachelor's or Master's degree will qualify you for during this field, but a doctorate degree may be a strong preference when it involves working in healthcare, social services, government agencies, and faculty systems. In light of that, many of us prefer to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Usually, a Ph.D. in psychology takes about 5 to 7 years long to complete the necessary requirements and earn a degree.

How to Achieve a Ph.D. in Psychology?

Now that we have provided a basic explanation as to what a doctorate degree in psychology would entail. We will now list the ways in which to get a doctorate degree in psychology.

Earn a bachelor’s degree: the first step towards achieving a doctorate in psychology is to work towards a bachelor’s in the same field. By doing this you will be equipped with an introduction and much-needed foundation to the field that you aim to specialize in. 

Earn a master’s degree: the second step towards getting a doctorate in psychology is earning your master’s degree. Although certain programs don’t require it as a prerequisite to joining their program.though you’ll probably have to complete prerequisites in psychology, human development, or statistics before beginning any Ph.D. coursework.

What are the Admission Requirements to Achieve a Ph.D. in Psychology?

Given below is a list of requirements that every candidate must fulfill before they can pursue a doctorate in general psychology. (these requirements include a master’s degree)

  • Academic and professional letters of recommendation

  • Academic writing samples

  • Official academic transcripts

  • 1-on-1 interview

  • Proof of internship or professional experience

  • Responses to admission essays

What are the Courses Involved While Getting a Ph.D. in Psychology?

Given below are the possible courses you might have to complete in order to receive the credits required to get a Ph.D. in psychology. 

  • Foundations of theory and practice of psychology

  • Qualitative analysis and design

  • Advanced inferential statistics

  • Program evaluation

  • Quantitative analysis and design

  • Research theory, design, and methods

  • Teaching of psychology

  • Professional ethics, law, and psychology

What are Some Concentrations in order to Achieve a Doctorate in Psychology?

Given below are the most popular options for a concentration in psychology that would allow you to get a Ph.D. in psychology:

  • Child and adolescent development

  • Coaching

  • Consultation

  • Organizational

  • Program evaluation and measurement

  • Teaching and instruction

Careers one can pursue after achieving a Ph.D. in Psychology

Given below are the major career options one can consider after he/she has achieved their doctorate in psychology:

Clinical Psychology 

A clinical psychologist works with clients to help them manage challenges posed by physical, mental, or behavioral issues. Many Ph.D. clinical psychologists maintain a private practice, while also pursuing research and/or teaching endeavors.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), clinical psychologists earn an average annual salary of $81,330.

Educational Psychologist

An educational psychologist focuses on identifying and studying the ways people learn and retain new information. That said, they may specialize in 1 type of patient population, such as children, adults, or individuals with specific conditions.  

While the BLS doesn’t record salaries for educational psychologists specifically, the average annual salary is $82,770.

Organizational Psychologist

Professionals in this field use principles of individual, group, and organizational behavior to design and implement programs related to areas such as performance, training, and quality of work life.

According to the BLS, the average annual salary is $102,770, however, the data is rather limited.

Psychology Professor

Colleges and universities typically require a Ph.D. for psychology professors. Depending on your experience and interests, you can pursue programs that allow you to teach general or specialized psychology principles.

Psychology educators at the postsecondary level average salary of $85,050.

Salary of a Ph.D. holder in Psychology

The salary for individuals with a psychology degree depends on many different factors, including specific job title, location, education, experience, benefits, and performance on the job.

In general, the starting salary for bachelor’s degree holders is around $40,000 per year. Those with graduate degrees typically start out around $55,000 annually. And individuals holding doctoral degrees have average starting salaries of around $63,000.

Examples of specific job titles for people with psychology degrees include counselors, school psychologists, and clinical psychologists. The average annual salary for counselors is around $48,000 per year; school psychologist $59,000; and clinical psychologist $81,000.


In numerical figures, it would take around 5-7 years to get a Ph.D. in psychology. The length of time it takes to earn a doctorate is entirely dependent on a number of factors including but not limited to, the work ethic of the individual as well as their course and concentration in that particular field. 

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