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Understanding why individuals behave the way they do has been an important factor in finding ways to help improve the decision-making process, manage stress, and predict future behavior. This is where the field of psychology comes in. This dynamic field offers meaningful and rewarding careers, encompassing counseling, social work, marketing, and so much more.
It is important that prospective students wanting to pursue his field earn a degree that aligns with their personal and professional goals. The median pay for psychologists amounts to $81,040 per year. Typically, one will need a master’s degree for some positions, but a doctoral degree is an optimum requirement for the most lucrative careers.
Undergraduates of psychology and other related fields who wish to become psychologists may want to consider advancing their higher education credentials by earning a master’s degree and pursuing a doctoral degree right after. However, this will mean longer years spent in graduate schools, which may put their career in the backseat.
Fortunately, there is a convenient way to pursue a career in psychology in the form of dual degree programs. Qualifying students who wish to take this route will be able to earn both a master’s and doctoral degree in less time compared to completing each graduate degree separately. This also means saving money as you can maximize the coursework for both programs.
Quick audio summary:
In a nutshell, dual degree programs in psychology are the merging of two degrees – the master’s and doctoral programs- into one continuous education plan. This allows students to earn both advanced graduate programs much more quickly than their counterparts. Credits earned by students may be applied to both degree programs. Often, admission into dual degree programs is streamlined into one efficient application process.
This means students won’t have to go through the complexity of applying to each program separately. When earned, the dual degrees will help them widen their career opportunities, allowing them to receive better compensation and more chances of promotion. Their in-depth knowledge in the area of psychology will give them the expertise to pursue exciting positions in a variety of work settings.
While there are universities that offer dual programs in psychology online, the overwhelming majority of such programs are only available in traditional learning formats. Some are also possible to earn in hybrid formats, meaning students may complete some of the degree requirements online, but they may be required to attend on-campus classes for others.
A dual degree program in Psychology is a unique learning opportunity for students, being the academic equivalent of hitting two birds with one stone. These programs are relatively rarer than standalone Master’s and Doctorate programs, but it is just as crucial to see whether their curriculum design/program of study, learning outcomes, and costs are what you deem fit.
The degrees featured here were selected on the following criteria:
- Offered by regionally-accredited institutions, whether public or private,
- Features curricula that provide training to as wide a set of learning areas as possible, which lets students confidently launch their careers in a wide range of areas/settings,
- As much as possible, delivered in an online or Hybrid/Blended learning format that allows students to access their coursework at their most convenient time,
- Delivered by faculty that is highly reputed for their professional competence and experience,
- Offers financial aid opportunities, tuition discounts, student support services, and favorable credit transfer policies.
Learn more about our ranking process! Explore our Methodology page.
Top 4 Online Dual Masters and Ph.D. Programs in Psychology
PhD in Psychology
Walden University, a private university in Minnesota, offers a unique PhD in Psychology, which prepares graduates with a multifaceted set of skills that they can take to diverse work environments and career paths. While the program is offered as a pure doctoral and not a dual degree program, students enrolled in the program have the chance to be awarded an MPhil or Master of Philosophy degree upon completing a set of program requirements.
- The program is offered as a non-clinical/non-licensure track degree program.
- Up to 55 credits are transferrable.
- The program curriculum offers a choice of six specialization areas: Educational Psychology, Health Psychology, Social Psychology, Research in Psychology, and Teaching in Psychology, as well as a Self-Designed specialization area that lets students tailor their coursework to their personal and professional goals.
- Students can also opt for Walden’s Doctoral Fast Track Option, where they can increase their course load for each term and begin their dissertation earlier in order to earn their degree faster.
- Students have up to 8 years to complete the program, after which they can apply for an extension if necessary.
- Walden University implements what it calls its Doctoral Degree Coach™, part of a suite of dissertation support services that it uses to help students progress through the doctoral program.
What Makes This Program Unique:
Perhaps one of the highlights of this program, aside from the end goal of earning a Ph.D., is the embedded Master of Philosophy degree that students can become eligible for an award. It is considered an advanced research master’s degree that signifies progress in the student’s academic journey toward the Ph.D. Walden University is one of only a handful of institutions that confer this degree.
Did You Know?
Aside from the Ph.D. in Psychology, Walden University also offers an online PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, as well as an MS Dual Degree Program – Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling also offered online.
PsyD-MCJ Dual Degree
Widener University, a private, non-profit university based in Pennsylvania, offers a PsyD/MCJ Dual Degree, which is a unique program that explores the fields of Clinical Psychology and Criminal Justice. This dual degree program is presented in a hybrid format and trains students to develop expertise across a range of clinical applications, which includes consulting and evaluation, to applied psychology.
- Upon completing the program, students will have earned both a Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice (MCJ).
- The program contains 120 credit hours for the PsyD, and a further 24 credits go toward the Master’s in Criminal Justice. The average completion time for the program is around five years.
- Being a hybrid program, all courses in the criminal justice components are offered online.
- The program also integrates practicum placements and internship training programs. Practicum training takes place in the first three years of the program, while Internship Training takes place in the fourth and fifth years. These internships and field placements may take place in a wide range of fields/areas of specialty that the student selects.
- Students first apply to the PsyD program upon enrollment, after which they can apply for the Master’s degree in Criminal Justice program during the second semester of their first year, provided they are in good standing.
The Widener University Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology is recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of the APA (American Psychological Association).
What Makes This Program Unique?
Widener University’s Clinical Psychology and Criminal Justice Dual Degree Program is a unique blend of 2 professional fields that overlap in the context of our Criminal Justice System.
Rather than offering a master’s degree and a doctoral degree for a single professional field, the program gives students a more comprehensive set of skills that they can take to careers in a variety of psycho-legal settings, as they essentially have foundational knowledge and specialized training in two separate disciplines.
Did You Know?
Instead of melding Clinical Psychology with Criminal Justice, students can also explore the intersection of business leadership and psychology with Widener’s MBA & PsyD (Psychology & Health Care Management) dual degree program, which is also offered in a hybrid format.
John F Kennedy University (National University)
MA in Sport Psychology – Clinical PsyD Dual Degree
John F. Kennedy University, which is now part of the National University system as the John F. Kennedy School of Psychology, offers an MA in Sport Psychology – Clinical PsyD Dual Degree program, which is a unique blend of the fields of clinical and sports psychology. The program is offered either hybrid or in-person at their Pleasant Hill, California, location.
- The program typically takes six years to complete on full-time enrollment.
- The program contains a total of 222 credit hours, with the PsyD core coursework comprising 128 credit hours. Part-time and evening options are also available.
- Student work toward earning their MA and PsyD degrees concurrently. They normally earn their MA after their third year and the PsyD after their fifth year in the program.
- The program is designed to produce graduates who fulfill practitioner rather than researcher roles while providing the same high level of scholarly study.
- Both MA and PsyD degree programs have similar roles, that is, providing strong foundations in counseling skills, while training students to serve diverse populations.
What Makes This Program Unique:
This degree program is a specialized blend of clinical psychology and the field of sports and performance psychology. Students get the unique opportunity to work with clients in both clinical and sports settings. Having both degrees enables graduates to use the title of Sport Psychologist.
Did You Know?
National University also offers the Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) and the Master of Arts in Sport and Performance Psychology as separate degree programs.
Master of Arts and PhD in Clinical Psychology
DePaul University, known for its academic standing and distinguished faculty, offers the combined degree program of Master of Arts and PhD in Clinical Psychology. This dual degree program has an emphasis on providing training in both scientific research and practice. Students are expected to gain a deeper understanding of both the societal and systemic forces that impact mental health and contributes to the disparities when it comes to access to adequate health.
The dual degree program will only admit Ph.D. candidates since the MA degree is non-terminal.
- In this clinical psychology program, students will get a solid foundation to prepare them for positions in the public sector, including those in urban environments with diverse ethnic and socio-economic populations that are underserved by psychology.
- Students who wish to earn this program may do so by attending classes on the Lincoln Park Campus, which will typically take them five or six years to complete.
- The master’s degree will require students to take 20 courses, along with a practicum and thesis.
- Students will then need to take three core courses for the Ph.D. degree, two practica, an internship, and a dissertation.
- The dual degree program offers two areas of emphasis – the community track and the child track.
What Makes This Program Unique:
Students in the clinical program will be able to participate in extensive practicum opportunities, including state-of-the-art training that begins in the university’s in-house clinic, DePaul Family and Community Services. The dual program requires students to complete their practicum at FCS in the second year.
On top of this, students may also choose among other Chicago-area externship sites for advanced training, including Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Behavioral Health Service, Howard Brown Health Center, and UIC Neuropsychology (Pediatric and Adult), among others.
Did You Know?
The Clinical Psychology dual program at DePaul University has received three American Psychological Association awards. Two of those focused on overall excellence in training, and one recognizes the program’s commitment to diversity.
Differentiating Between a Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD Programs) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D. in Psychology Programs)
Both the PsyD and the Ph.D. in Psychology are terminal degrees and can form part of the set of minimum requirements for clinical practice, together with a license. Currently, both degrees are equally common in the field of Psychology, but there are a few key differences.
Traditionally, the Doctor of Philosophy is the older of the two degrees, with the PsyD first coming into existence around the 1970s. Like any other Doctor of Philosophy degree, the Ph.D. in Psychology is traditionally oriented toward high scholarly pursuit, in current terms, scholarly research. Students enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Psychology can expect to primarily take on roles in academia and research.
The PsyD, meanwhile, was conceived as an alternative terminal degree to the Ph.D., as a way to award a doctoral degree oriented toward professional practice focusing on Counseling Psychology and similar fields, as opposed to scholarly research. The PsyD is generally oriented toward practitioner roles as opposed to academic ones.
This fundamental difference in intellectual emphasis of the two-degree types also manifests in their respective curriculum designs. Students in Ph.D. programs can expect to take more statistics and research-related coursework, while students in PsyD programs can expect to take more coursework oriented toward hands-on training in actual clinical practice across a variety of settings.
Popular Courses in Psychology Dual Degree Programs
Dual degree programs in Psychology are primarily varied, with each program following its own set of learning outcomes that determine its subsequent curriculum design. Some dual degree programs that combine two usually separate fields of study into a single degree program add even more to the variety.
Here are a number of common thematic areas for the specific courses in these dual degree programs:
- Quantitative Research (Theory Bases, Design, and Methods) — Whether they be PsyD or Ph.D. in Psychology degree programs, both of these involve research in one form or another, with the PsyD orientated toward research for use in clinical practice settings, and the Ph.D. program toward research in more scholarly contexts.
- Qualitative Research – The methods and theory base that underlie qualitative research are fundamentally different from qualitative research methods, and these are often treated separately as a course all their own.
- Psychometrics – This thematic area serves as an exposition of the principles as well as the various types of psychological assessment tools currently in use in the field for a variety of applications.
- Multicultural/Cross-Cultural Psychology – The state of current professional practice in Psychology necessarily encounters various cultural contexts in the various diverse populations that graduates expect to serve once they earn their degrees.
- Ethics and Professional Issues – Much like any other profession, Psychology has its own set of ethics to keep in mind, as well as current prevailing issues in the field.
- Fundamental Topic Areas in Psychology – This set of courses covers the various topics that form the core content of the Psychology degree program. These courses can include areas such as developmental psychology, social psychology, health psychology, sports psychology, the behavioral sciences, and more.
Potential Careers For Dual Programs in Psychology Graduates
According to BLS, the overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow by 6% from 2021 to 2031. This means pursuing a career in the field is all worth it for interested students. Those who wish to carve a successful career in psychology may want to consider the following career paths:
This particular psychologist is responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating clients struggling with psychological disorders. They often work in mental health clinics, hospital settings, and private practice clinics. Clinical psychologists are Doctor in Psychology degree holders. It is common for most states to require clinical psychologists to complete a minimum of a one-year internship.
Often found in educational work settings, school psychologists help children deal with problems that have to do with their emotional, academic, and social state. It is known as one of the fastest growing fields as more and more support pours in to support the needs of students.
The field of sport psychology is thriving. This particular area focuses on the psychological aspects of sports. It covers essential topics such as motivation, performance, and injury. The role of sports psychologists often involves helping athletes improve their performance. They also aid those who need to improve their mental and physical health with the use of sports.
Another career path for those with a dual degree in psychology is that of a career counselor. It is their job to aid people who are searching for new jobs or changing their careers. As career counselors, one will help clients make career decisions, all the while utilizing relevant tools such as personality assessments and other evaluation measures. Part of their responsibility is to look at clients’ interests, education, job history, and skills to come up with careers that will match their interests and capabilities.
Focusing on workplace behavior, an industrial organizational psychologist utilizes psychological principles to increase workers’ productivity. They are also responsible for matching potential employees with particular jobs that are best suited for them. Sometimes, they may even need to train and assess employees and evaluate job applicants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth enrolling in Dual Psychology programs?
Often, the main obstacle to earning advanced degree programs in psychology is the length of time it takes to complete them. Those who want to earn both a master’s and a doctoral program will find a dual degree in psychology valuable. This means students can accelerate their degree, saving both precious time and money in the process.
Most of the dual programs in psychology offer flexibility, especially if they are offered online. Students who are earning the dual degree program will be able to gain in-depth knowledge of the various elements of psychology, including theory, research, and clinical practice. They will be able to transition into the highest degree available in the field of psychology without having to spend too much time and money on master’s and PhD degree programs separately.
Before arriving at a decision, however, students must first consider their personal and professional goals. Dual degree programs are not the same. Some have unique combinations that may not fit within their desired career paths.
What are the requirements for earning dual Masters and Psychology doctoral programs?
The admission process to a dual program often differs from one educational institution to another. Some may be more competitive and require students to meet specific requirements such as a particular GPA or test score. Others may require certain prerequisites that must be completed before enrolling.
Others may be more flexible. Still, most of the online dual degree programs require more or less the same admission requests, no matter which graduate school they are offered. Some of them include the following:
- Transcripts of record
- Three letters of recommendation
- Academic statement of purpose
- Updated resume or CV
- Academic writing sample
- GRE, GMAT, and other standardized test scores
- For international students, English proficiency scores (TOEFL or IELTS) may be needed. Scores must be dated no more than two years prior to the date of matriculation.
- An application fee
It is important for interested students to check with the university of their choice and find out the specific admission requirements for a more seamless application process.
How long can students expect to finish their dual Master’s and Ph.D. programs in Psychology?
The short answer is… it depends. The program duration differs from university to university, depending on how rigorous the curriculum is and how difficult the degree requirements can be. It may also be affected by the mode of enrollment of students. Those enrolled full-time will understandably earn it quicker than those on a part-time enrolment basis.
Typically, a master’s degree may be earned within two to three years. A Ph.D. degree, on the other hand, can be earned somewhere between three to five years. That is, if one is pursuing those advanced degrees separately. The dual program gives students the benefit of earning both the master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in as little as four years.
The number of course credits required and students’ study schedule largely impacts the length of time it takes for one to earn the dual degree program. The gravity of the requirements can also be a factor. Some dual degree programs include the need to complete a capstone project, a thesis, a dissertation, or professional licensing requirements. All of these can take time.
Are there available financial aid options for students of Dual Degree Psychology programs?
Like any other degree type, these dual degree programs will be covered by at least one type of financial aid being offered by a specific university and can include grants, loans, and even competitive scholarships.
The set of financial aid options (and sometimes special discounts) offered by specific universities can vary, so it is best to talk directly with a specific university to get the most exact information on any financial aid options they may offer, as well as the most exact cost estimates for their degree programs, as the information posted on their degree programs’ websites are often only rough estimates.
Dual degree programs in Psychology don’t always award both Master’s and Doctoral degrees for only the field of Psychology; some degree programs take a more innovative path and provide a more interdisciplinary education by combining Psychology with another separate field of study into a single degree program.
Through dual degrees in Psychology, students are poised to gain a more comprehensive set of skills and foundational knowledge without having to apply for and enroll in two separate degree programs.
Dual degree programs demand just as much dedication and focus from students as their standalone degree counterparts. Especially with dual degree programs that integrate two separate areas of interest, students are presented with a unique opportunity for scholarly pursuit. Still, they must be mentally prepared for the coming coursework.