According to About.com, the time it takes to earn a Ph.D. ranges from about three to seven years. The length of the program depends on a number of factors including the field of study, school and/or program and other factors such as life circumstances and unexpected emergencies.
Many schools design their programs so that students have as much time as they need to get their doctorate degrees, but others enforce time limits in order to keep down the number of ABD, or "all but dissertation" students. John C. Norcross, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Rhode Island, notes that psychology programs have different levels and different degrees within its doctoral possibilities. For instance, students who pursue a Ph.D. in psychology usually take from five to seven years depending upon required coursework as well as internship and supervised residency requirements. Students who already meet many prerequisite requirements tend to finish their programs before those who do not take prerequisite courses. These students also tend to focus more on the research aspect of psychology unlike Psy.D. students who generally teach or conduct psychology research while working in applied settings to provide mental health services. Psy.D. students typically take four to six years to complete their psychology doctoral programs, according to About.com.