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What Are the Core Courses of a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology?

A student who is working toward a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree in clinical psychology completes classes in both normal and abnormal psychology. He or she learns to use tools and observation to assess a client or patient and determine the proper course of treatment. This article describes some of the core courses necessary to earn Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology.

The Psy.D. Degree in Clinical Psychology

A Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree has some similarities to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology degree but there are several differences as well. A major difference between the two degrees is that the Psy.D. program emphasizes clinical training, while the Ph.D. curriculum is more likely to focus on research. Whereas completing a Psy.D. degree program in clinical psychology typically takes approximately 4-7 years, it takes about 8 years or longer to finish a Ph.D. degree. Additionally, both the Psy.D. and Ph.D. degree programs may require completion of a doctoral dissertation; however, the Ph.D. dissertation is much more complicated and therefore takes more time to complete. The following are common focuses for core courses in clinical psychology:

  • Philosophy
  • Assessment
  • Application

Important Facts About This Occupation

Work Environment Office setting, clinical setting
Common Courses Advanced Psychopathology, Diversity in Clinical Psychology, Gender Identity: Development, Expression and Clinical Considerations
Median Salary (2018) $76,990 (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Philosophy Courses

Before a clinical psychology degree is granted, you'll complete core courses that may include theoretical class work in areas like human sexuality, abnormal psychology, personality theory and childhood psychopathology. The study of spirituality and psychology, lifestyle psychology and addiction psychology are often included in a standard curriculum for this field as well.

Assessment Courses

Core courses in a Psy.D. program in clinical psychology often begin with training in client assessment. You'll learn to assess the condition of a patient or client through written tests, observation and other tools. Several facets of a patient's personality and behavior are studied as part of the intake and assessment process, including:

  • Cognition
  • Personality
  • Age-related behavior and responses

Application Courses

An aspiring clinical psychologist will be expected to practice the treatment of patients under the guidance of a qualified and licensed instructor. Experience in group therapy, crisis intervention and patient treatment in various settings are all part of the core courses for a Psy.D. degree in clinical psychology.