Guest Contributor: Dr. Brock Schludecker
To recap, yesterday we started a Q&A with Brock about Psy.D. programs. We’re back today to wrap up this question session.
How costly are Psy.D. programs? Do these programs qualify for federal loans assistance?
There is a lot of variability in this too. While funded Psy.D. programs do exist, they are few. Previously (in the 1960’s and before), doctoral clinical psychology (i.e. Ph.D.) programs were housed within psychology departments of larger universities with many departments. In the early 1970’s a group of APA psychologists agreed that the study of psychology was developed sufficiently to grant degrees primarily oriented towards practice (hence the Psy.D. degree). These programs are sometimes housed within larger universities, cover tuition, and seem to be similarly sized to Ph.D. programs (~30 students across 5 years at any given time). More frequently, Psy.D. programs are part of a freestanding professional school. These programs tend to be larger (with upwards of 50 students per academic cohort), and do not cover cost. Cost can be considerable, with students often taking on six-figure debts.
Graduate school is an investment and Psy.D. programs are no different. There will be years of your life where you will not have time for much else (including earning money). The wager essentially is that your income with a degree will, over a long enough timeline, be greater than it would otherwise be (likely including the time you would spend in your program). Put another way:
Income with degree – debt > income without degree.
Whether or not you qualify for federal loan assistance depends more on the type of your loan and your loan servicer. Many students take out federally-held loans, privately held loans, or some combination of the two. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
How long is the duration of a Psy.D. program?
Generally, 5-6 years. The variability mostly comes from dissertation and internships. Particularly complicated or difficult-to-execute dissertations, or very specific internship requirements (“I will ONLY complete internship at a site focusing on Child and Adolescents in a 20 mi radius“) are big factors that add to students’ time in Psy.D. programs.
Any other advice or information you think would be important to give?
Keep in mind that the majority of the time in a Psy.D. program, you are geographically bound. I say this for two main reasons: First, it should be a place you can live for at least four years. Graduate school is too difficult and too long to be miserable in your living situation. Second, training opportunities differ greatly by location. This does not mean they are necessarily better or worse, but it does mean that not all cities/ regions have the same opportunities. If you would like to work with immigrants for example, you should consider looking at programs near populations of immigrants.
Psy.D. programs (and graduate school in generally) are supposed to be difficult. The idea is that it will challenge you academically and personally. If you find yourself in a Psy.D. program, you will likely be around a lot of other intelligent and talented people who are also being challenged. Be mindful that others’ knowledge is not your stupidity.