Category: Information

Selecting a Doctoral Program: Ph.D. versus Psy.D.

David Van Engen, Psy.D.
Student Perspective Article

I recently sat on some informational panels for the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) at the University of St. Thomas. Among the usual questions regarding pathways to a doctoral degree, a couple questions recurred between groups:

1) “What’s the difference between a Ph.D. and Psy.D.?”

2)“I’ve heard that a Psy.D. is not as ‘good’ as a Ph.D. program.” (Myth)

3) “Is selecting a Psy.D. over a Ph.D. program going to harm my future job or credentialing prospects? (Short answer: No)

I remember agonizing over the same questions back in 2015 when was in the process of researching and applying for psychology graduate programs. At the time, it felt like selecting any pathway into mental health would send me hurtling down an irrevocable route that would close off all the others and limit my future prospects. Now in 2022, having recently completed my Psy.D. (my program included an MA along the way), it turned out that those fears were never realized and the things that caused the most stress didn’t matter at all. I would like to reflect on those questions again, attempt to dispel some misconceptions, and hopefully make the program selection process a little less ambiguous for anyone interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology.

Ph.D. versus Psy.D. What’s the difference? Put simply, the difference between degree types comes down to training emphasis. The majority of Psy.D. programs are centered on the scientist/practitioner model, which prioritizes learning and practicing clinical skillsets with the end goal of clinical practice. Ph.D. programs historically emphasizes theory and methodological learning pertaining to research and academic pursuits; however, clinical skills are still taught. Over the last decade, the differences between the two types of degree have and continue to narrow due partly to competency-based APA accreditation requirements for training programs. The curriculum for both degrees meet the requirements for licensure as a psychologist. However, it is important to examine each doctoral program as the differences between them may be considerable in terms of quality (e.g., student-to-full-time faculty ratio, labs, availability of practicum options, resources, etcetera).

It is important to note one significant difference between program types. Since Psy.D. programs are relatively younger, there is some disparity when it comes to the availability of tuition remission, assistance, grants, and scholarships. While this gap is narrowing, Ph.D. programs may have more opportunities for tuition remission via teaching opportunities at the college or in the community. For example, I was accepted to a graduate program in Boston that offered up to 98% tuition remission. I wound up going with a Psy.D. program in Minnesota that offered no tuition remission but did offer some graduate assistant positions to defray some costs. At the time of this writing, I am aware of initiatives within graduate programs across the U.S. and the APA to provide greater opportunities for tuition assistance.

Myths about the Psy.D. Contrary to what you may have heard, the Psy.D. is not a “lesser” degree, nor is it a barrier to securing practicum/internship/postdoc placement or employment upon graduation. While some bias has historically existed, it is not based on empirical evidence and reflects prejudicial attitudes that thankfully have eroded over time. During your journey you may still encounter some of this bias but you may rest assured that those individuals do not represent the evolving and increasingly diverse field of psychology.

A useful historic comparison would be the attitudes surrounding the incredibly outdated MD (medical doctor) versus DO (doctor of osteopathy) debate. Again, the key difference is more philosophical than practical. Generally speaking, osteopathic programs are more holistic in their conceptualization of patients, pathology, and the mind. Both pathways will produce a highly trained, licensed physician who is held to the same standards of medical care in order to obtain licensure. During my former medical career, I worked in the emergency center with physicians of both backgrounds and the type of degree did not matter a whit. Also, I’ve had multiple surgeries over the years provided by both MDs and DOs and my internal organs couldn’t tell the difference. Just like these professionals, the comparison of Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs comes down to how the quality of education, supervision, and practica opportunities prepare doctoral-level professionals to enter the field.

Licensure. Students that successfully complete a Ph.D. or Psy.D. doctoral program and internship accredited by the APA can take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) as an entry-level licensed psychologist. Concerns and known issues surrounding non-APA-accredited programs and internships are not a topic that I can speak to adequately here but will address in a future article.

Career Prospects. Examining the modern workforce, psychologists with a Psy.D. can be found working alongside their Ph.D. colleagues with total parity. Specific settings that were initially synonymous with the Ph.D. such as the VA, academia, research, or neuropsychology no longer take the type of degree into consideration and instead focus on relevant experiences such as practica, internship/postdoc, research, and program evaluation. This is a significant change from when I first started graduate school in 2015.

Final Thoughts. Ultimately, graduate school is a lengthy process of learning, practicing new skills, failing (sometimes spectacularly), and self-reflection. Those 5-6 years are going to challenge and change you. At the end, the aspects of psychology that initially drew you toward this field may continue to inspire or they may disillusion you. You may find yourself in a vastly different setting than you first envisioned… and that’s okay. In fact, it’s one of the saving graces of this profession. It is not hyperbole to say that there are nearly limitless ways to practice psychology and retain your values (e.g., work/life balance, family, sanity, minimal criminal record). In fact, I would argue that the type of degree (Ph.D./PsyD) will have considerably less bearing on your future than the quality of training, clinical experiences, and supervision that you picked up along the way. When evaluating which program is right for you, deemphasize the degree and attend to the qualities of the program (e.g., philosophy, resources, diversity, faculty, rates of graduation). The importance of the goodness of fit (i.e., how well the program aligns with your values) cannot be overemphasized.

For Doctoral Students Applying for Internship this Fall: APPIC Announcements Coming Soon

The notice below was posted by APPIC.


We would like your assistance in notifying students who will be applying for internship this coming Fall about the existence of APPIC’s MATCH-NEWS e-mail list.  An easy way to notify future internship applicants is to forward them a copy of this e-mail message.

The MATCH-NEWS e-mail list is an essential source of information about the APPIC Match.  We VERY STRONGLY recommend that ALL students subscribe to MATCH-NEWS themselves rather than rely on others to forward the announcements to them.

In the coming weeks and months, APPIC will be distributing some important announcements about the Match, the AAPI, the APPIC Directory, etc., and it is imperative that all students receive this information.  All Directors of Clinical Training (DCTs) and Internship Training Directors should be subscribed as well.  Information about how to subscribe to MATCH-NEWS is provided below.  

Thanks for your assistance.  If you wish to unsubscribe from this list, please see the instructions at the end of this message.



MATCH-NEWS is a free e-mail list provided by APPIC as a service to Match participants.  It is very strongly recommended that all internship applicants (as well as academic and internship Training Directors) subscribe to this list as early as possible in the process (i.e., subscribe now if you plan to apply to internship programs this Fall).  Students who are not yet ready for internship are also welcome to subscribe.  MATCH-NEWS is an “announce-only” list, which means that only APPIC can post messages to the list.  The volume of e-mail messages will generally be very small, usually ranging from zero to five messages per month.  As the Match approaches, MATCH-NEWS will be the primary method of communicating important late-breaking news and information about the Match, as well as tips and suggestions about how to make the most of the process.  Many applicants from previous years have told us that the messages posted to MATCH-NEWS were extremely helpful to them in navigating the selection process.

NOTE:  If you previously signed up for MATCH-NEWS and are receiving messages, there is no need to sign up again.

To subscribe to the MATCH-NEWS e-mail list, send a blank e-mail message to the following address:

You will subsequently receive an e-mail message (with the subject line, “Your confirmation needed”) that contains instructions for you to follow in order to confirm your subscription.  Simply follow the instructions in that message, and you will soon receive a “Welcome” e-mail in response.  This “Welcome” e-mail confirms that you are successfully subscribed to the list (please note that you are NOT subscribed to the list until you have received the “Welcome” message).

PLEASE NOTE:  If your e-mail program uses “Spam” or “Junk Mail” filtering, it is possible that the confirmation message from the APPIC server will be automatically redirected to your “Junk Mail” folder without your knowledge.  If you do not receive a confirmation message in your “Inbox,” you should check your “Spam” or “Junk Mail” folder to see if the message is there.

See the contact info below if you have difficulty subscribing.



For general information about the APPIC Match, see:

and click on the “Internships” pull-down menu, then “About the APPIC Match.”  General information is also available at the matching program web site:

Please note that both of these sites will be updated for the 2021 APPIC Match later this summer.

For complete information about all of APPIC’s e-mail lists, see and click on “E-mail Lists.”

If you have any questions about the APPIC Match in general, you may contact Dr. Greg Keilin at or (512) 410-0002.  For assistance with APPIC’s e-mail lists, please contact the APPIC List Manager, Dr. Cecilia Sun, at .

Being a Student of Color (SOC) in the age of COVID-19

By David Van Engen

Dirty looks from strangers while out in public. Muttered, derogatory comments in passing. Being followed around stores by managers and staff. As a Korean American, I’ve lived with this kind of behavior from others for my entire life. Overt, covert microaggressions. Outright, racist b*******, if we’re being totally honest. This is during the best of times. The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen a significant increase in harassment and hate crimes directed against Asian Americans and immigrants. Discrimination directed against minorities in the U.S. during times of crisis is nothing new; in fact, it’s an American tradition.

In addition to the regular stressors faced by college students, being a person of color in the U.S. brings additional challenges. Whether that comes from feeling out of place in a largely heterogeneous campus or awkwardly painful classroom discussions on diversity, it’s a lot to hold. When COVID-19 was brought to the world’s attention in late 2019, I distinctly remember thinking to myself that if the virus came to America, it would be Asian’s turn to be the focus of misguided discrimination. As time passed and the contagion spread around the globe, I experienced a growing unease that my initial thought was coming true. This feeling stayed with me, in the pit of my stomach as the number of cases began to rise in Europe, on cruise ships, and eventually the U.S. After that I couldn’t stay off the news. I was continually scanning for stories of racial discrimination, hate crimes, and targeting by politicians. This took a hefty toll on my overall sense of well-being. I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling like this but I certainly felt isolated.

In March, I was on a walk with my wife and we encountered an older woman lying on the sidewalk who had fallen and [to my medically-trained eye] had clearly broken her collarbone. I offered assistance to help stabilize her for transport to the hospital but was flatly rejected by her partner. I told her I had emergency medical training. Her partner told me to leave them alone. She wouldn’t say why, she just glared at me. Eventually, the woman on the sidewalk who was in pain said “oh let him help me already.” So I did (despite being irate). We stabilized the shoulder in an improvised sling and sent her off to get medical treatment. As we walked away, my wife said “so that’s what you’ve been talking about, isn’t it?” This incident stayed with me, doing little to help my growing frustration. Later that week, I was at the grocery and received racist comments from people in the aisles.

So I decided to stay inside as much as possible. Screw it.

But that didn’t make things better. In fact, it got worse. My consumption of the news increased as did my preoccupation. This cycle continued for a couple of weeks. My wife noticed, as did my friends. Trying to break my funk, I attended an online meeting of my graduate program’s Student’s of Color, Multiracial and Indigenous peoples group (SOCMI). There, students talked about their COVID-19-related experiences, fears, and uncertainties. It was wonderful and for the first time in months, I didn’t feel alone as a SOC. I felt like myself again. Upon reflection it struck me how quickly one can turn inward and allow anxiety to influence behaviors.

So if you’re a SOC, this blog entry is for you. You are not alone. If you’re not an SOC, this is also for you. Be supportive. Advocate for yourself and for your fellows. Be mindful of safety. Talk to each other. Form support groups, attend digital happy hours and game nights. But most importantly, be cheerfully defiant. Otherwise the bigots win.

Screw them. We aren’t going anywhere.

The APA offers some insight into the psychology of bias-motivated actions and hate crimes as well as tips on fighting them here.

If you’ve been the victim of a hate crime or discriminatory acts, go here.

Telehealth Resources for Practicum Students and Interns

With the COVID-19 pandemic, training sites and graduate programs are scrambling to ensure that their students can get the experience and hours that they need. With most clinics moving their services to an online format, the transition can be a little jarring. We’ve compiled some resources on telehealth services as it pertains to practicum students and interns. This list will be updated regularly.

Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC)

American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines for telepsychology.

APA advice for psychology supervisors and trainees during COVID-19

COVID-19 Information

It’s pretty easy during times like this to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of COVID-19-related information out there. Some of it is good, much of it is questionable in terms of validity and reliability. We’ve compiled a number of sources for information within the public domain that can be considered reliable, well-researched, and peer-reviewed. This list will be updated regularly.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

State of Minnesota COVID-19 Website

The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)

World Health Organization (WHO)

The Never-Ending Search for Scholarships and Grants

By Quincy Guinadi

Graduate school is expensive! While some of us are fortunate and privileged to have financial support, others rely on scholarships and grants to provide financial assistance.

The search for scholarships and grants can be time consuming, overwhelming, and exhausting. As a graduate student, time is often not on my side and I aim to look for scholarships that have a reasonable time-to-money ratio. A scholarship that requires me to submit a video that takes 6 hours to develop, produce, and edit for a chance at a $100 award? No thank you!

Before starting the search, I would encourage folks to reflect on the amount of energy and time they have for the coming weeks as the process of applying for scholarships and grants takes time. This would assist you in narrowing down and focusing on awards that you would have higher chances of receiving. 

My go-to search for scholarships and grants typically looks like this:

  1. Your institution’s or program’s scholarships/grants
  2. Local professional organizations (e.g. MPA, Minnesota Women in Psychology)
  3. National professional organizations (e.g. APA, Psi Chi)
  4. Other psychology organizations or sites
  5. Leftover google searches (I have once found a scholarship through a facebook mental health group!)

As I pull up scholarships and grants that fits my interest/criteria, I would create an excel list that consist of:

  1. Scholarship/Grant name
  2. Awarding institution/organization
  3. What the award is for/about and it’s link
  4. Criteria and materials needed 
  5. Number of recommendation letters required 
  6. Deadline 

I would also have an alarm set in my calendar and would give myself more than enough time to request for recommendation letters, write the proposal, and give time for procrastination (it’s inevitable)! I usually give myself approximately 3 weeks before the deadline to start the application process. From my experience, most scholarships tend to be due around summer time and I would often begin my search and create the list towards the end of my spring semester. 

The search and process of applying for scholarships can seem overwhelming and also achievable! There are many organizations and institutions that want to recognize the students’ research, clinical, and leadership contributions to the field — so don’t hesitate to seek them out! I’ve listed a few of them below. Follow our blog to receive updated lists of scholarships and grant opportunities for psychology students and postdoc fellows!

American Psychological Association Funding & Scholarships

Elizabeth A. Fries Scholarship in Psychology

International Honor Society in Psychology Research Grants