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What is a PsyD or PhD?

PsyD or PhD: PsyD stands for “Doctor of Psychology,” and PhD stands for “Doctor of philosophy.” These degrees constitute the highest level of clinical training, and are required to be licensed as a psychologist. The difference between the two is one of emphasis in clinical work versus research, with the PhD usually having more emphasis on research, and the PsyD, clinical work. Usually doctoral programs in psychology last from five to seven years, and include between 5,000 and 6,000 hours of clinical work prior to obtaining the degree. 

  • Years in School: 5-7
  • Hours of supervised clinical experience: 5,000 - 6000

What is an MSW or LCSW?

MSW or LCSW: MSW and LCSW are used to denote someone who has received a master’s degree in social work, and someone who has been licensed as a social worker, respectively. A master’s degree in social work usually includes two years of graduate education and concurrent clinical work. As social work degree programs last only two years, generally MSW programs include between 1,000 and 1,500 hours of clinical work prior to obtaining a degree. 

  • Years in school: 2
  • Hours of supervised clinical experience: 1,000 – 1,500

What is an MFT?

MFT: An MFT, standing for Marriage and Family Therapist, represents the least amount of graduate training necessary to practice therapy. Generally, MFT programs last only two years, and typically include less than one year of practical clinical training, usually under 400 hours. Due to the few requirements for this certification, most states do not recognize MFT, and will not license someone with this level of training. Several doctoral programs that are unaccredited (such as online programs) or those that do not provide the requisite level of training to become licensed as a psychologist, provide their students with a “doctoral degree” in name only. Although receiving a PhD or PsyD, students are limited to licensure as MFT’s due to the lack of rigor of the programs. This is increasingly the most popular graduate degree due to the ease with which it is obtained. 

  • Years in school: 2
  • Hours of supervised clinical experience: 400