Psychiatry (M.D.)

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  • Trained as a medical doctor to diagnose and treat mental illness from a disease model; will often see patients with serious mental illness (e.g., disorders involving psychosis such as schizophrenia)
  • Emphasis is on biological underpinnings of mental health
  • Prescribe medication in hospital and clinic settings to treat mental illness

Program Length

  • Becoming a psychiatrist involves completing 4 years of medical school and 4 years of residency
  • Additional specialization will require a fellowship program after residency


  • Upon completing medical school and residency, the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required
  • Psychiatrists will also need to be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) 

For more requirements, see the board website

Program Specialization Examples

  • Addiction Psychiatry - focus on substance use issues, using medication to treat opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorders, treatment in the context of active use, withdrawal, or early/late recovery
  • Geriatric Psychiatry - focus on concerns of older adults, e.g., Alzheimer's disease and dementia, other neurodegenerative impairments 
  • Pediatric Psychiatry - focus on the concerns of children and adolescents in the context of their families, e.g., behavioral problems, ADHD, developmental disorders
  • Neuropsychiatry - focus on psychological symptoms of patients suffering from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, brain injury


  • Medical school costs on average $57,000 per year for 4 years

Work Setting

  • Psychiatrists typically work in medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics

Graduate admissions requirements (in addition to general requirements)

  • Will need to complete pre-medical course requirements and take the MCAT
  • See pre-medical advising to understand admission requirements for medical school