The doctoral degree is recognized by the APA as the basic credential for psychologist and the entry-level degree to the profession. Many jobs, as well as licenses to practice, require a doctorate. At the doctoral level, your three basic options (in order of prevalence) are doctor of philosophy (PhD), doctor of psychology (PsyD), and doctor of education (EdD). Which degree is awarded by a program is generally a reflection both of the training model and of the institutional setting in which a program is housed. The PhD, then, is usually the degree granted by university-based psychology departments that train in the research or scientist-practitioner models, although some professional programs award the PhD as well. The PsyD is usually granted by a university-based or freestanding professional school of psychology that trains with the professional model. The EdD is a psychology PhD that is granted by a university-based education department, as opposed to a psychology department, and, like the PhD, usually reflects either the research or the scientist-practitioner training model.
As might be expected, the highest paid and greatest range of jobs in psychology are available to doctoral graduates. Although the number of doctoral graduates has at least doubled over the past 12 years, the demand continues to meet the supply. Furthermore, unemployment and underemployment rates for doctoral psychologist are slightly below the average for other scientists and engineers. Few drop out of the field.
The greatest expansion of career opportunities for doctoral psychologists in the last decade have been in the subfields of clinical, counseling, school, health, industrial and educational psychology. As a consequence proportionally fewer new doctorates have headed into faculty positions as compared with the past.