How to become a Psychiatrist with a Psychology Degree

How to become a Psychiatrist with a Psychology Degree
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Individuals interested in the mental health area may question what the difference is between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, as well as how similar their school requirements are. Some people may be shocked to learn that, while both of these professionals have comparable tasks, the qualifications and training required are quite different. Some may even wonder if a psychology degree may lead to a career as a doctor. 

In the United States, a psychiatrist is a certified medical practitioner who specializes in mental disorders. A master’s degree in psychology does not qualify someone to practice medicine or be a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists use drugs, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and other psychiatric techniques to treat their patients. Psychiatrists can also determine whether a patient’s mental problems are caused by physical ailments. 

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Is it possible to become a Psychiatrist without attending medical school or earning a psychology degree? 

A psychology degree is not required to work as a psychiatrist. In fact, most persons who aspire to attend medical school major in pre-med, biochemistry, or a related field rather than psychology. 

To become a psychiatrist, you must, nevertheless, attend medical school. People who don’t want to go to medical school but want to help people with mental illnesses should consider becoming therapists or psychologists instead. A job as a psychiatric nurse or psychiatric physician assistant may be appealing to those interested in the medical side of mental health. 

Various psychiatric subspecialties may necessitate additional education. Because the precise path relies on the speciality, it’s critical to do your homework before deciding on a career. Doctors who are certain they want to practice in a certain sub-specialty should apply for residencies in that field. 

Psychiatrists’ Educational Requirements 

A bachelor’s degree with relevant coursework from a college or institution accepted to the medical school is required for admission. Psychology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics are all good choices. In addition, the person must pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and show verification of numerous other qualifications. To get an M.D., you’ll need to go to medical school for four or five years. 

Many candidates will not be accepted into medical school due to the high level of competition. You must have excellent grades at a prestigious school to boost your chances of admission. Volunteer work or an internship in a hospital or psychiatric clinic are also advantageous. Strong references from qualified physicians or psychiatrists are another technique to aid secure admittance. 

Other Requirements and Training 

An aspiring psychiatrist must undergo four or five years of psychiatric internship and residency training after graduating from medical school. They must also have a state-issued license to practice. They must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination and meet any other state requirements in order to do so. 

Psychiatrist board certification is optional but highly recommended. To be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, candidates must pass an examination and meet certain other requirements. 

Continuing Education 

Psychiatrists may be required to continue their education throughout their careers in order to maintain their board certification and state licensure. Approved workshops, seminars, and classes from professional institutions are typically used to give this knowledge. 

Undergraduate Education

Despite the fact that many medical schools only require three years of undergraduate education, the majority of accepted applicants have finished a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Any major, including psychology, is possible, but prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology, physics, and organic chemistry is required. Medical school admissions committees value coursework in epidemiology, anthropology, statistics, and ethics as well.

Medical School

The first two years of medical school will primarily consist of a curriculum in the sciences and human body systems. Anatomy, embryology, biochemistry, psychology, and clinical medicine are just a few of the subjects you’ll study. You’ll get more hands-on experience with physicians in clinical settings throughout your last two years of medical school. Elective rotations in fields such as pediatric neurology and gerontology will be available to you during your fourth year. During their medical training, many medical students interested in becoming psychiatrists locate a mental mentor. 

Residency in Psychiatry 

Psychiatry residency programs last four years and need at least 36 months of work experience in a psychiatric setting. Your first year is referred to as an internship, and it will consist of extensive medical coursework outside of your psychiatric specialization. Hospital rotations in general medicine, emergency medicine, and neurology will be completed. You’ll devote your remaining years to psychiatry and get experience working with a variety of patients, including eating disorders, geriatric, and schizophrenic patients. During your final year, you will have the opportunity to enroll in research electives, which will allow you to investigate specific areas of interest. 


After finishing your residency, you may choose to enter a fellowship to further specialize in the field of psychiatry, though it is not required. Fellowship programs last one year and allow you to specialize in a specific area of psychiatry, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatrics, addiction, forensic psychiatry, or research. A two-year residency in child and adolescent psychiatry is required, but you may be allowed to begin training after your third year of residency. 

Information on Licensure and Certification 

To practice medicine in the United States, you must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) ( This is a three-part exam, with the first two steps usually completed while still in medical school. During your first or second year of residency, you will normally complete the third and final step. 

After finishing your residency, you have the option of becoming board certified in psychiatry. If you opt to do a fellowship, you can also get sub-specialty certification. Board certification necessitates a commitment to lifelong learning, as well as the demonstration of cognitive and practical mastery in your speciality over the course of your career. 

What Does a Psychiatrist Do? 

In private or group settings, psychiatrists diagnose and treat the mentally sick. Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists or counselors, are medical doctors (MDs) who are allowed to administer drugs. Psychotherapy, hospitalization, and psychoanalysis may all be used as part of their treatment plans. Psychiatrists spend the majority of their time working with patients, although many also educate and conduct research. 

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What does it cost to train as a psychiatrist? 

The average cost of becoming a psychiatrist varies based on where one attends school, whether or not they receive student loans, and whether or not they live in a high-cost-of-living area. Out-of-state students pay around $23,890 each year in tuition at four-year public colleges, for a total of $95,560. This does not include the costs of books, accommodation and board, food, or student fees, which can run into the thousands of dollars per year. 

Out-of-state medical school students spend an average of $58,668 per year in tuition, for a total of $234,672. Books, accommodation and board, and other expenditures might significantly boost the price tag. 

This means that the total expense of medical school plus college for an out-of-state public school student is over $330,000. Those attending public schools in their home state often pay less, whereas students attending private schools may pay twice or even triple the amount. 

Psychiatry residencies pay around $60,800 per year on average. Some inhabitants, on the other hand, may feel underpaid for the amount of effort and knowledge required. Many psychiatrists spend the first few years of their careers catching up on their finances and battling school loan problems. In 2018, the average American-trained psychiatrist earned roughly $256,000 per year, according to Medscape. 

In Canada or the United Kingdom, how can you become a Psychiatrist? 

With two exceptions, the procedure of becoming a psychiatrist in Canada is very identical to that in the United States: Only 11 of 17 medical schools in Canada require the MCAT, and psychiatric residencies in Canada are five years long, not four. The Institution of Physicians and Surgeons or a provincial college must register psychiatrists. 

The school system in the United Kingdom differs significantly from that in the United States, as does the process of becoming a psychiatrist. Students apply to medical school after graduating from high school, which lasts 4-6 years. Following that, students begin foundation training, a compensated program akin to a medical residency. Typically, foundation training takes two years. Students must then finish three years of core psychiatric training before moving on to three years of higher psychiatry training. 

Job Prospects 

In general, psychologists and psychiatrists can make a good career in a variety of businesses and settings. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, have the potential to make much more than psychologists, according to PayScale data. Fortunately, both fields are expected to develop significantly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 


The day-to-day practice of any profession, whether psychology or psychiatry, is vastly different. During talk therapy, psychologists do more than just sit and listen to clients, contrary to popular notion. Many psychology students participate in research studies on human behavior and other sorts of brain processes while pursuing their degree. After becoming licensed and working in the field, some psychologists continue to serve on research committees instead of or in addition to working with individual patients. Psychologists typically work with clients and patients one-on-one or in small groups, utilizing discussion and psychotherapy to confront, work through, and cope with emotional discomfort or mental disease. 

Psychologists work in a variety of settings, including private offices, hospitals, and academic institutions. Some even work as organizational psychologists for large organizations or in government agencies as forensic psychologists. Psychologists may operate in counseling centers or student health facilities alongside medical professionals at universities or institutions. Because licensed psychologists must have a PhD, some choose to teach psychology as professors at postsecondary schools. 

The majority of psychologists employed, according to the BLS, work in clinical or counseling settings. The pay scale for a practicing psychologist varies depending on where they work, the industry they work in, and their level of expertise. California has the biggest number of psychologists and the highest mean compensation for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, at $108,350, which is significantly more than the national median salary of $79,010. Psychology occupations are expected to rise by 14% in the next few years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Psychiatry is classified as a medical science, and practicing it requires a medical degree. Those interested in psychiatry should get a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in medical school, whereas psychologists should earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. Psychiatrists go through the same license and certification process as other medical practitioners, including completing a residency after medical school. Psychiatrists have considerable medical training and are qualified to give drugs and treat patients with mental problems and illnesses in a clinical setting. 

Psychiatrists deal with patients on an individual basis every day to detect behavioral difficulties and disorders and to develop the optimal medical treatment plan. They may also collaborate with psychologists to develop treatment strategies that include psychotherapy as well as medicine. 

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Psychiatrists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, psychiatric institutions, and government agencies. Psychiatrists typically evaluate a patient’s medical history and collaborate with other medical providers to discover recurring concerns, diagnose mental illness and disorders, and develop and implement treatment regimens without interfering with the patient’s other drugs or therapies. 

The income potential of a psychiatrist is determined by his or her location, industry, and amount of expertise. The majority of psychiatrists work in doctor’s offices or private practices, substance addiction and psychiatric facilities, and general hospitals, according to the BLS. Psychiatrists earn the highest average wages in Hawaii, Connecticut, and Maine, with a nationwide median salary of $220,380.


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