A doctor of psychology degree, or Psy.D., is a professional doctoral degree that allows those who earn it to practice clinical psychology. They may work as guidance counselors, college psychology professors, clinical psychologists, social workers and research psychologists, among other jobs. Obtaining a doctorate typically takes between four and seven years, and students are required to defend a dissertation, which is a lengthy research paper on a specialized topic of their choice, to graduate.
Obtain the education necessary to be considered a good candidate for a Psy.D. degree program. Schools may not require you to have majored in psychology as an undergraduate, but having some college coursework in the subject is helpful. You may also be required to have successfully completed coursework in biology, chemistry, statistics and mathematics, among other subjects. You can take these classes at a community college if you did not take them while you were an undergraduate.
Research schools that offer Psy.D. programs. Some schools that offer graduate programs in psychology award Ph.D. degrees, so if you specifically want a Psy.D., check the websites of the schools that interest you to confirm that they offer the degree.
Apply to the schools that interest you according to their admissions criteria. Before you apply, confirm that you meet the minimum requirements to apply. You may, for example, be required to have a certain grade point average. Be sure to include all supplemental information the school requests, and meet all deadlines.
Enroll in a program after you have been admitted. Meet with an academic adviser to plan out your coursework and how you will meet the program's graduation requirements.
Take the classes that are required and pass them. Practice good study habits, and meet with your professors regularly for help if needed. Complete a dissertation, if one is required, and defend it in front of a panel of psychology faculty members to earn your diploma.
Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and "The Sacramento Bee," among others. Kennedy has a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.