Is a Ph.D. in Psychology Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)
Written By: Raymond Aguirre, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN
There’s no doubt that getting a Ph.D. in Psychology can be a valuable investment. Studying psychology that can lead to many interesting and fulfilling careers. But is a Ph.D. in psychology worth it? This article will cover what you need to know before making your decision. We will talk about 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it and also 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you. This article is not meant to dictate what you should do, but to provide you with the information to make an informed choice.
WHAT IS A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
A Ph.D. in Psychology is a terminal degree, which means it's the highest level of education you can achieve in the field of psychology. Once you've completed your Ph.D. in psychology degree, you'll be qualified to work as a psychologist in many settings, such as private organizations and government agencies. You can also choose to pursue a career in academia by teaching at the college level or conducting research at a university.
HOW LONG DOES A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE TAKE?
The time to complete a Ph.D. in psychology can vary. Both the curriculum and the individual pace of a student can affect how long a Ph.D. in psychology program can take. For example, the University of Pennsylvania
states that students in their Ph.D. in psychology program have taken anywhere from five to seven years to finish their degree. Northcentral University’s online Ph.D. in psychology
, meanwhile, takes about 46 months to complete, which is a little less than four years.
HOW MUCH DOES A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE COST?
The cost of a Ph.D. in psychology can vary depending on the school you choose. The Ph.D. in psychology program at Rosalind Franklin University
, for example, costs $38,152 per year. For their four-year Ph.D. in psychology program, the total cost is $152,608. By contrast, Liberty University’s
Ph.D. in psychology program can cost $595/credit hour (for full-time students) or $650/credit hour (for part-time students). That means that tuition for a Ph.D. in psychology at Liberty University’s 60-unit program can be from $35,700 to $39,000.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
The following are the typical admission requirements for Ph.D. in psychology programs:
• A master’s degree, not necessarily in psychology. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree is also acceptable.
• A GPA of at least 3.0
• Letters of recommendation
• A letter of intent
• Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
• A Resume
Just keep in mind that this is not inclusive of all the requirements of every school. Each Ph.D. in psychology program is different and may or may not require some of the items listed above.
IS A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY WORTH IT? – THE PROS
(The following are the 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in Psychology is worth it in 2023.)
REASON #1: A Ph.D. in psychology can provide you with the opportunity to teach at the college level.
One of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it is it can lead to a college teaching career. As a professor or college instructor, you will be able to make a decent living while imparting knowledge to others on a subject you love.
REASON #2: A Ph.D. in psychology can give you a greater understanding of human behavior and mental processes.
The human mind and behavior can be intriguing. With a Ph.D. in psychology, you will be able to gain knowledge of these intricate subjects and be able to gain a better understanding of what it truly means to be human.
REASON #3: A Ph.D. in psychology can help lead to careers in research.
A Ph.D. in psychology is worth it if you like doing research. Much of what you will do in a Ph.D. in psychology program is research-based, so you will learn various ways to properly conduct academic studies that are well-designed and credible. Psychology research is a great career choice for inquisitive people who like the process of discovery and expanding their knowledge.
REASON #4: A Ph.D. in psychology can give you the chance to work with different ethnic and racial groups
Having a Ph.D. in psychology opens up multiple opportunities to work with the many ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Every racial or ethnic group has its unique set of psychological needs, and with a Ph.D. in psychology, you are in the best position to understand these needs. If you are interested in working with diverse populations, consider working with the different ethnic minority psychological associations listed on the American Psychological Association’s website
REASON #5: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career in public health.
Public health is very important. And if you are interested in this field, then it could be one of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it. The need for highly qualified individuals in psychology to help care for the mental health needs of the public will never go away. You can be one of these people with a Ph.D. in public health.
REASON #6: A Ph.D. in psychology can help you start your own business.
A Ph.D. in psychology does not just lead to great jobs. With a Ph.D. in psychology, you can also delve into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. Whether you decide to start a one-on-one consulting practice or a health and wellness product line, a Ph.D. in psychology gives you the skills and the credentials to have your own business.
REASON #7: A Ph.D. in psychology can help you become a voice for social and political change.
Mental health is a major issue in today’s society. There need to be more voices that will publicly advocate for those who are undergoing psychological health problems. You can be that advocate with a Ph.D. in psychology. Your credentials give you the power to speak to legislators and other political leaders and encourage changes in policies that pertain to mental health. You can check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness
if public advocacy is something that interests you.
REASON #8: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to opportunities to take leadership positions in prominent psychology organizations.
If you like the idea of serving on important committees in major psychology organizations, then a Ph.D. in psychology degree is worth it for you. These organizations place a high value on professionals who have shown dedication to the field of psychology. Having a terminal degree, such as a Ph.D. in psychology is one of the best ways to show your commitment to your profession.
REASON #9: A Ph.D. in psychology can make you less vulnerable to job loss during economic downturns.
Having a Ph.D. in psychology makes you a valuable asset in the workplace. This does not guarantee that you will never be laid off. However, having a Ph.D. in psychology makes you a less likely target of downsizing measures.
REASON #10: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career working with children.
Some people love working with children. If you count yourself as one of these people, then that could be one of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it for you. Child psychology is a well-established specialty within psychology. And with a Ph.D. in psychology, you could be working in schools or child development centers at various institutions.
REASON #11: A Ph.D. in psychology may lead to opportunities to meet and collaborate with thought leaders in the field of psychology through networking events.
One of the perks of having a Ph.D. in psychology is that you have the opportunity to go to conferences and other networking events. During these events, you may be allowed to make speeches to your colleagues and collaborate on groundbreaking projects. There are plenty of these events, and you can look up some of them through this page
on the University of California, Merced’s website.
REASON #12: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a corporate career as an industrial-organizational psychologist.
Many people think of psychologists in clinical settings. But did you know that you can work in corporate settings too? You can do this as an industrial-organizational psychologist. Industrial-organizational psychologists use their deep knowledge of human behavior to understand and address problems in the workplace. A Ph.D. in psychology degree is worth it if this is a path you want to pursue.
REASON #13: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career in forensics.
Forensics is a field that captivates the imagination of many people, probably because of how it is portrayed in the mass media. Forensic psychologists
are professionals who use their skills and knowledge in the context of the criminal justice system. If you are one of those people who have a keen interest in forensics, then you may be glad to know that forensic psychology is an area that you can specialize in if you have a Ph.D. in psychology.
REASON #14: A Ph.D. in psychology can allow you to help people with drug addiction.
One of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it is because it can allow you to work with people whose lives have been ruined by drugs in some way. Drug addiction is a rampant problem in society that can affect the mental health of many individuals. With your help, you can help these people regain their lives back.
REASON #15: A Ph.D. in psychology can help you develop stellar communication skills.
Communication is not just about talking. It is also about understanding the psyche of the people you are talking with. Not everyone is a skilled communicator. But with a Ph.D. in psychology, you can help sharpen this essential skill through the countless one-on-one interactions you will have with different kinds of people.
REASON #16: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career in sports psychology.
Do you love sports? Do you love psychology? If you answered yes to both, then that could be one reason why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it for you. The job of a sports psychologist isn’t different from other psychologists. The only difference is that your clients are athletes and other people working in the world of sports. Sports can take a mental toll on some people, and with a Ph.D. in psychology, you can prepare for a career helping these people.
REASON #17: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a lucrative marketing career.
Marketing is probably one career you wouldn’t think of if you are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. But it turns out that the skills you learn with a Ph.D. in psychology can be very useful in the world of marketing. Marketing is not just about selling products. It’s also about understanding how people think and behave. Psychologists are great at this, and a Ph.D. in psychology can lead to careers in market research and development.
REASON #18: A Ph.D. in psychology can help you become an administrator at colleges and universities.
A Ph.D. in psychology is worth it if you like the idea of taking on leadership roles in academia. Although some work experience as a professor may be needed to take administrative roles in higher education, having a Ph.D. in psychology is also very important.
REASON #19: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career in the military.
Working for the military can be a very stressful career path. Not only are military personnel exposed to war, but they may also spend a lot of time away from the people they love. This creates the need for mental health professionals who can help them cope with their lives and their careers. A Ph.D. in psychology is helpful if you want to become a psychologist in the military. The U.S. Air Force
, for example, is one branch of the military looking for psychologists.
REASON #20: A Ph.D. in psychology can prepare you for a career in social work.
Although social work is a separate field of study, it is also one area in which someone with a Ph.D. in psychology can work. A Ph.D. in psychology can be very useful if you want to work with community agencies and human services organizations. If social work appeals to you, you may choose to pursue further education in this field and become licensed as a clinical social worker.
REASON #21: A Ph.D. in psychology can help you become an environmental psychologist.
Being an environmental psychologist is one of the top reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it. This is a unique branch of psychology that deals with the relationship between people and the world around them. With so many environmental issues taking on increasing importance, a Ph.D. in psychology can help you start a career in the exciting field of environmental psychology.
REASON #22: A Ph.D. in psychology can make you a credible writer on psychology-related topics.
There are plenty of topics that fall under the umbrella of psychology. These topics are interesting to a lot of people, and they need experts to help understand these topics. A Ph.D. in psychology makes you a credible writer on things related to psychology. You may even go further and become a book author!
REASON #23: A Ph.D. in psychology can lead to a career as a neuropsychologist.
is a branch of psychology that studies the relationship between brain disorders and behavior. If this is something that interests you, this is one example of a career you can go into with a Ph.D. in psychology.
REASON #24: A Ph.D. in psychology can give you the skills to help people discover their dream careers.
Helping people identify careers that they would enjoy is very gratifying. And this is one of the biggest reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it. With a Ph.D. in psychology, you will be well-suited to jobs in career counseling, which you can find in public schools and higher education institutions.
REASON #25: A Ph.D. in psychology allows you to work in correctional settings.
Psychologists who work in correctional settings treat incarcerated patients. Some people may have reservations about working with this type of population. But for some, the corrections system is an ideal working environment. So, if you are open to working with inmates and are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology, keep in mind that working in corrections facilities is one option for you.
WHY A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY MAY NOT BE WORTH IT FOR YOU? – THE CONS
(Now that you have gone through the 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in Psychology is worth it, here are 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.)
REASON #1: It takes a long time to complete a Ph.D. in psychology.
A Ph.D. in psychology is not worth it if you consider how long it takes to acquire a degree. For some people, this is not much of an issue. However, if it is for you, then you may want to think twice before you apply for a Ph.D. in psychology program.
REASON #2: A Ph.D. in psychology can be an expensive degree to pursue.
Pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology may require you to take out a big student loan. It’s great if you have some savings or some type of work reimbursement to pay for school. If you don’t, you may have to spend years after graduating from your Ph.D. in psychology program paying off school debt.
REASON #3: It’s possible to lose income while pursuing your Ph.D. in psychology.
Pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology can be demanding. You may need to work less while you are in school. Therefore, you can lose some income while you are in a Ph.D. in psychology program. Before applying for a Ph.D. in psychology program, assess your current situation. If you cannot afford to give up some income, then that is a good sign that a Ph.D. in psychology degree is not worth it for you.
REASON #4: You may lose time with family and friends.
Going to school for your Ph.D. in psychology can be very demanding. It is almost guaranteed that you will need to sacrifice some time from the people you love to keep up with the demands of school.
REASON #5: Finding an internship or residency can be difficult.
One of the things you will have to do in a Ph.D. in psychology program is an internship or residency. Finding the right residency can be difficult
. It may not be worth pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology if you are not willing to go through this kind of stress.
REASON #6: You may have to publish in psychology journals often.
Publishing in psychology journals is a crucial aspect of a psychologist’s career and is something that may be expected of people with a Ph.D. in psychology. If this is not something you are willing to do, then a Ph.D. in psychology might not be worth your time.
REASON #7: If your goal is to be a psychology professor, you may find a lot of competition.
There are many careers you can pursue with a Ph.D. in psychology. However, a Ph.D. in psychology is not worth it if your heart is set on becoming a psychology professor only, then you may find that there is plenty of competition for tenure-track jobs that pay well and have good benefits. You will likely find work as an adjunct instructor, which means you will have to teach part-time at different schools with little or no benefits.
WHAT ARE THE 3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS?
Here are three of the main reasons why people with a Ph.D. in psychology are in demand.
1. Many industries perceive people with a Ph.D. in psychology as top experts.
The demand for Ph.D. in psychology degree holders is great because of their status as experts in mental health. Employers from diverse fields seek their services, which means that they are needed in many places.
2. There is increased accessibility to healthcare services, including services from psychologists.
Increased access to medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act means that there are plenty of opportunities for people with a Ph.D. in psychology, particularly in mental health services.
3. The mental health needs of people have accelerated due to the pandemic and other recent events in today’s world.
The events of the past several years, including the pandemic, have taken a mental toll on a lot of people. This has helped spur the demand for people with a Ph.D. in psychology because more people now need more counseling services to cope with their lives.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS?
The average salary of Ph.D. in psychology degree holders is $90,000 per year. This translates to an hourly rate of $43.27 per hour, $1,731 weekly, or $7500 monthly.
WHAT ARE THE 3 BEST JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
Having a Ph.D. in Psychology can create many opportunities for you. Here are three of the best jobs you can get with a Ph.D. in psychology.
If you like the idea of teaching at the college level, then becoming a professor is a great option for you. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, you'll be qualified to teach psychology courses at universities and colleges around the country.
2. Research Psychologist:
Do you enjoy conducting research? If so, then working as a research psychologist might be the perfect career for you. Research psychologists use scientific methods to study human behavior and mental processes.
3. Psychologist in Private Practice:
If you like working with clients on a one-on-one basis, then becoming a psychologist in private practice is a great option for you. As a psychologist in private practice, you'll be able to provide individual therapy to clients who are struggling with various psychological issues.
BONUS! 3 TIPS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WITH A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
Want to make more money with a Ph.D. in psychology? Follow these three tips.
1. Specialize in a high-demand area:
With a Ph.D. in Psychology, you can specialize in a high-demand area such as clinical psychology, counseling, or industrial-organizational psychology. Specializing in a high-demand area will make you more marketable and increase your chances of getting a job that pays well.
2. Get experience in the private sector:
Working in the private sector can be very lucrative for psychologists with a Ph.D. Many private companies are willing to pay top dollar for experienced psychologists who can help them improve their businesses. If you want to make more money with your Ph.D. in Psychology, consider working in the private sector.
3. Start your own business:
One other great way to make more money with a Ph.D. in Psychology is to start your own business. Many psychologists with a Ph.D. have started successful businesses, such as private practices or consulting firms. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, starting your own business is a great way to make more money with your Ph.D. in Psychology.
IS A Ph.D. IN PSYCHOLOGY WORTH IT FOR YOU – MY FINAL THOUGHTS
A Ph.D. in psychology can do wonders for your career. But is a Ph.D. in psychology worth it? There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. This article just outlined 25 reasons why a Ph.D. in psychology is worth it and also 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you. However, you still have the final say on whether you should pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. The most important factor is if you think that pursuing a doctorate in psychology will add value to your life.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. What Is The Best Age To Do A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree?
There is no recommended age to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. If you feel mentally and financially prepared, then you can pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at any age.
2. How Hard Is It To Get Into A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program?
Every Ph.D. in psychology program is unique. Some may be more competitive than others. The best thing you can do is to make yourself a competitive candidate by gaining work experience, taking classes to raise your GPA, and aiming for high scores on your GRE.
3. Is The GRE Required For Those Wishing To Pursue A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree?
Not all Ph.D. in Psychology programs require a GRE. An example of a Ph.D. in Psychology program that does not ask for a GRE is the one at Keiser University.
4. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program?
Work experience in a psychology-related field may be helpful if you want to get into a Ph.D. in Psychology program. This helps provide you with a strong professional background.
5. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program?
A GPA of 3.0 is typically required to get into a Ph.D. in Psychology program.
6. Can I Get Into A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program With A Low GPA?
There is a possibility of getting into a Ph.D. in Psychology program with a low GPA. However, you may have to be admitted on a conditional basis.
7. Are Online Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Programs Worth It?
Online Ph.D. in Psychology degree programs can be worth it, especially for working professionals. It is not practical or doable for some people to attend a brick-and-mortar Ph.D. in psychology program.
8. Are Scholarships And Grants Available For Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Programs?
There are plenty of scholarships and grants available for Ph.D. in Psychology degree programs. The American Psychological Association
has a list of some of these scholarship opportunities on its website.
9. Can Ph.D. In Psychology, Students Have A Life?
Students in a Ph.D. in Psychology program can have a life if they can manage their time wisely.
10. Can I Work Part-Time And Successfully Complete The Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program?
It is possible to work part-time and complete a Ph.D. in Psychology degree program. This can be done by working on certain days when you don’t have classes or if you do not have a lot of projects to complete.
11. Can I Work Full-Time And Successfully Complete The Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Program?
Nothing is impossible. However, keep in mind that a Ph.D. in Psychology program can be very demanding. It will take a great amount of discipline and hard work to balance a full-time job and a Ph.D. in Psychology program. If you are up to this challenge, then you can certainly try working full-time while pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology.
12. Do Students Fail In Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Programs?
It is possible to fail a Ph.D. in Psychology program if you do not complete certain requirements in your courses.
13. Will I Ever Regret Getting A Ph.D. In Psychology Degree?
It’s difficult to know whether you will regret getting a Ph.D. in Psychology degree. This is a personal matter that only you can answer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that having a Ph.D. in Psychology can lead to many fulfilling and well-paying careers that may be difficult to regret.
14. How Much Does A Ph.D. In Psychology Graduate Make Per Hour?
A Ph.D. in Psychology graduate makes $43.27 per hour on average.
15. How Much Does A Ph.D. In Psychology Graduate Make Per Year?
Graduates of Ph.D. in Psychology programs typically earn an annual salary of $90000.
16. Will Ph.D. In Psychology Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?
Mental health is a critical service that the public will need for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is not likely that Ph.D. in Psychology graduates will be paid less in the future.
17. Are All Ph.D. In Psychology Graduates Successful In Their Careers?
Many Ph.D. in Psychology graduates enjoy having fruitful careers. However, there is no standardized tool to measure whether all Ph.D. in Psychology graduates are successful.
18. Are Ph.D. In Psychology Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?
There are Ph.D. in Psychology graduates that may be happy with their jobs and some that are not. But their experiences are unique to them. It is not advisable to base your decision on whether to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology purely on the experiences of others.
19. Can Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Holders Become Rich?
You can potentially become wealthy with Ph.D. in Psychology, especially if you decide to work for major companies or start your private consulting practice.
20. What Are Some Ph.D. In Psychology Degree Alternatives?
A few alternatives to a Ph.D. in Psychology include Ph.D. degrees from the following fields: human services, social work, counseling, and child development.
21. Can I Get A Ph.D. In Psychology Without A Masters in Psychology?
Yes. It is possible to enter some Ph.D. in Psychology programs with just a bachelor’s degree.
22. What Is The Difference Between A Ph.D. In Psychology And A PsyD?
A PsyD is similar to a Ph.D. in Psychology except for one key difference. A Ph.D. in Psychology is more focused on research while a PsyD is typically seen as heavily focused on clinical practice.
Raymond Aguirre RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN
Raymond M.E. Aguirre is a registered nurse with years of experience in the medical field. He currently works as a public health nurse and has years of experience in home health, hospice, and skilled nursing facility settings.