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The 4 Best Dual Masters and Ph.D. Programs in Psychology Online

Written by College Cliffs Team At CollegeCliffs.com, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: January 29, 2024, Reading time: 19 minutes

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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:

The Lowdown

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.

Methodology

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:

Learn more about our ranking process! Explore our Methodology page.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 4 Online Dual Masters and Ph.D. Programs in Psychology

Walden University

Walden University

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. 

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.  


Widener University

Widener University

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.

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)

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.

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.


DePaul University

DePaul University - College of Science and Health

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.

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

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.

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:

Potential Careers For Dual Programs in Psychology Graduates

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:

Clinical Psychologist

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.

School Psychologist

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.

Sports Psychologist

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.

Career Counselor

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.

Organizational Psychologist

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.

Is it worth enrolling in Dual Psychology programs?

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:

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.

Summary Points

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.


Additional Information: