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Psychology doctoral students in health-service provider subfields feel the heaviest burden of student debt when they graduate-nearly double the amount of debt compared with their counterparts in research and other psychology specialties, according to APA's 2001 Doctorate Employment Survey.

In fact, nearly 80% of recent doctorates in the health-service provider subfields reported debt, which averaged $58,885 upon graduation. However, 57% of recent grads reported debt in research and other subfields, averaging $33,755, according to the survey.

Why the difference?

"The research fields tend to use a larger proportion of their own or family earnings or teaching assistantships, which generally do not have to be paid back," says Jessica Kohout, PhD, director of APA's research office.

Also, some programs provide more financial support to students for tuition and living expenses, while other programs offer little or none, financial advisers say. Schools that provide the most financial support traditionally tend to be research-based, publicly supported universities.


APA's 2001 Doctorate Employment Survey is at APA Doctorate Employment Survey.