What Are the Different Types of Clinical Psychology Degree Programs?

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  • Written By: Florence J. Tipton
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2019
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There are several types of clinical psychology degree programs that provide essential training for students pursuing a career in the mental health field. On the graduate level, a clinical psychology degree often follows an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field. The postgraduate degree program usually prepares students for a career as a clinical psychologist. Certificate programs are typically available for students who previously obtained a postgraduate psychology degree.

Typically, clinical psychology degree programs provide advanced educational training in treating conditions that affect the emotional well-being of patients. Clinical psychology degrees prepare graduates to counsel patients in a clinical setting who may suffer from psychological disorders, anxiety, or depression. The programs teach students a three-step process to counsel patients.

First, students learn how to evaluate certain symptoms that a patient experiences. The next step for students is learning how to make a diagnosis based on the evaluation results. In the third step, students learn how to develop treatment plans relative to evaluation results and subsequent diagnoses.

For the most part, students in graduate clinical psychology degree programs receive an education in treating patients with psychological conditions. The common coursework in these programs includes topics that cover the proper way to conduct clinical assessments. In general, students might study various therapy settings, psychological development, and ethical issues in the clinical psychology field.


With a postgraduate degree in clinical psychology, students are usually prepared for several types of career options. To work as a research professional in academic institutions, students learn how to conduct psychological studies of human behavior. Some postgraduate clinical psychology degree programs might also prepare students to teach academic courses in this field.

A few postgraduate degrees also have concentration areas that may narrow the focus of a clinical psychology education. For example, students interested in working with the elderly population might enroll in a program with a gerontology concentration. Majors with a concentration on philosophy 0typically focus on academics and research to explore common psychological issues. The psychology concentration is normally for those who want to practice as a clinical psychologist.

Certificate programs are typically available for students who previously obtained a postgraduate psychology degree and want to target the clinical practice of psychology. Unlike postgraduate clinical psychology degree programs, certificates largely focuses on practical experience in a therapy setting. Some certification programs provide internships where students can work in real-life settings to gain practical knowledge.

Another learning format for certification is through clinical psychology conferences or seminars. Many courses in this learning format offer practical training in evaluation techniques for both children and adults. Students may also learn theoretical concepts for personality disorder and how to serve a diverse population.


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