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How To Earn A PhD. In Psychology? 

How to earn a PhD. in Psychology? 


Education and learning is something which doesn't have a full stop. It's a lifelong process. You can learn till the last breath of your life. The more you learn about something, the more proficient you become in that field. And the more proficiency you gain, the more effectively you can apply it.

 Psychology is a science of human behaviour and mental processes. Human mind and behaviour is something which is very complex and dynamic. No human can fully understand it. And no one can gain expertise in it by learning a few books. For that matter, a tough academic and experiential pillar has to be built in it. Consistency in acquiring advance knowledge is required. And what is better than a PhD degree for deepening your knowledge! PhD is considered as the highest level of degree in any field of education. If you're looking for gaining more expertise in the field of psychology then you must go for a PhD in Psychology. It is a research-based program which enhances the knowledge and skills of the person. This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding a PhD in Psychology.


What is PhD Psychology?


PhD Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology is a Doctorate level Psychology course. The Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology is a research-based program. The duration of the program is a minimum of 3 years from the date of registration and a maximum of 5-6 years. The exam type is a semester pattern (it may vary in some Universities).To earn a PhD Psychology degree a candidate has to produce original research and that requires to expand one's boundaries from a theoretical perspective to a more practical based approach while conducting the research. This research contributes to the expansion of knowledge in the field of Psychology and is normally presented by the candidate in the form of thesis or dissertation. It also requires defending one's authentic work from the experts in that field.

The first and foremost step in PhD is to choose a topic for research. It is important to choose a topic wisely because that's something you're going to devote almost 3 to 5 years of your life. Another important thing is to choose a supervisor. Supervisor can be a professor of either a bachelor's program or of a master's program having expertise in it who guides you through the whole journey of your PhD.


Difference between PhD Psychology and PsyD:

PhD Psychology is a doctorate of philosophy in psychology and PsyD is a doctorate of psychology. Though they both are peak level studies of Psychology, they are different in many ways.

PhD Psychology is basically a research-based program in which conducting surveys, feeding of data for the research, forming a thesis or dissertation are required. It's often a more rigorous and longer period program than PsyD. The emphasis is given on scientific research and applied or practice training. If you are passionate about conducting your own scientific research and envision yourself as a professional researcher then PhD is the best match for it.

PsyD or doctorate of Psychology program focuses on assessment and treatment of patients. This is more centred around the clinical settings and psychotherapy. Unlike PhD, its emphasis is not on research and academics but on the practice of Psychology. Students interested in pursuing clinical or counselling psychology can go for PsyD.


Why should you opt for a PhD?

  • The course enables students to contribute to their profession through independent learning, scholarship, and research.
  • Students get an in-depth knowledge of their chosen topic of research.
  • The program aims to provide training for the growing number of clinical psychologists who wish to pursue specialist careers in clinical research settings, including universities, hospitals, specialist research foundations and government bodies.
  • Candidates are prepared for careers in both academic and applied settings including positions at universities and colleges, research and governmental organizations, business and industry, clinics and hospitals, and as professional psychologists.
  • PhD is beneficial if someone aspires to become a lecturer after qualifying NET examinations. From 2020, it is important for all assistant professors to have a PhD degree.
  • As getting a PhD entails gaining expertise in the chosen field, the salary package of PhD holders is substantially more than those having graduate, masters or Mphil degrees.

Admission Process:

As per UGC, these are the general steps followed for admissions to PhD in Psychology:

  • Candidates are required to have a postgraduate degree in Psychology from a recognized University with an aggregate of 55% (50% for SC/ST category) marks as a minimum eligibility criterion to apply for this program.
  • Admission to the PhD Psychology program is based on the entrance test. For the entrance, one has to be well equipped with the basics of Psychology and the concepts have to be very clear as the syllabus comprises 50% of research methodology and 50% is subject-specific.
  • For qualifying the entrance test one has to score 50% marks (45% for SC, ST, OBC, PWD). After passing the exam, one has to appear for the interview.
  • Candidates with UGC-NET (including JRF), UGC-CSIR NET(including JRF), or have passed M.Phil Psychology program are exempted from the entrance test and are eligible to directly appear for the interview.
  • After the interview, the merit lists are created where the aggregate marks are compiled based 70% on marks in the entrance exam and 30% on the interviews.

Syllabus for PhD Psychology:

A common syllabus for PhD Psychology (course work) as followed by various Universities and Colleges may include:


  • Foundations and Methods of Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Development of Human Behaviour
  • Psychological Processes
  • Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology  

Colleges offering PhD Psychology include:

  • IIT Kanpur
  • IIT Gandhinagar
  • Delhi University
  • Banaras Hindu University (BHU)
  • Kurukshetra University
  • Calcutta University
  • Gulbarga University
  • Banasthali University
  • Amity University
  • Christ University

 Watch this video on Pursuing Ph.D. from Delhi University:

Career Opportunities:

Earning a PhD Psychology degree opens the door to many career opportunities.

PhD being the most superior degree course enables the degree holders to work in many different areas. Having a PhD degree means you are designated as an expert in that field and this increases the demand of such candidates in the field of Psychology. The doctorate professionals generally choose between applied psychology careers and research-oriented careers.


Applied psychology careers include providing psychological services to clients. It consists of assessing, diagnosing and treating the mental health disorders (for clinical practice M.Phil is mandatory).  


Research Psychology careers mostly include conducting research and expanding the knowledge of the field by presenting new researches, new perspectives and new methods of dealing with various psychological maladjustments. Research Psychologists invest most of their time on their research findings, discussing it with peers and spreading their research knowledge through various conferences.


The professionals with a PhD degree can pursue their career as applied practitioners or researchers in various subfields of Psychology. Some of them are mentioned below-


Earning a PhD Psychology degree is not an easy job. It's a long journey and requires patience to stand firm in your chosen path. It's both interesting as well as challenging. At first, you might be full of enthusiasm to conduct your own research, but as the years pass by and your research continues, you might feel exhausted by it but always remember you chose to explore your topic of interest, so don't give up until you achieve it!

Watch this video on Psychology careers in India:



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