A career in clinical psychology can be fulfilling – you can provide therapy to patients, conduct research, teach courses at a university, mentor students at an earlier place in their career, and provide consultation on a number of different topics. It’s a surprisingly flexible degree.

Getting through graduate school, however, can be a somewhat different beast. Besides navigating the degree, one question that many prospective students and current graduate students like have is regarding salary. That is – how much will I get paid as a graduate student?

Honestly, the short answer is not a lot.

You usually get paid enough to survive (not thrive, mind you) if the cost-of-living is not high and you are living modestly. It is certainly possible to get out of school debt-free, but the finer things in life may be somewhat off-limits.

That being said, there are avenues to leverage to support an interesting lifestyle and financial goals. For example, travel grants are available to mitigate costs of traveling to different countries as a way to present your research. Moreover, the flexible schedule of a graduate student can support fun activities (such as going to try out a new brunch place at 11:00am on a Tuesday).

In this post, I provide some information on how much a graduate student in clinical psychology gets paid and ways to increase your income.

Internal school funding

All PhD programs financially support their students in some way. Most schools offer a base stipend for your research work, and some may supplement that income with opportunities to complete teaching assistantships. In Canadian schools, this amount is usually somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000 but varies depending on the school. Some schools will also waive tuition fees, which is a significant financial reprieve.  

External research funding

Securing external research funding is one of the best ways to have a strong and consistent income stream. For example, master’s and doctoral funding from the Tri-Council agencies in Canada (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) is typically $35,000 a year for three years. There are also a number of external funding in the States, such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Therefore, it is important to looking into external funding opportunities if the program does not have a built-in support system for applications. For example, Canadian universities ask students to apply for federal funding (e.g., Tri-Council, Ontario Graduate scholarship) to relieve financial burden (and so that the program doesn’t have to pay as much out of pocket).

Teaching Assistantships

Working as a course instructor or as a teaching assistant can also be a good way to supplement your income while obtaining experience in this area if you are interested in being an educator in the future. Duties of a TA include: marking assignment/exams, holding office hours, invigilating exams, and holding tutorials/workshops.

Clinical work in private practice

Some students also work in private practice roles through supervised practice. This type of work can be beneficial in numerous ways: (1) you get to work with patients which is a big part of going into clinical psychology (2) you get relevant experience and hours towards your internship application and (3) you get paid! The hourly wage for clinical work can also be quite high, though there may be more preparation and administrative tasks in between seeing patients compared to teaching assistant jobs.

Other types of university work  

Beyond teaching assistantships, there are often calls for different work positions in the university that may be of interest. For example, I work as a writing consultant at my university providing feedback to undergraduate and graduate students to support their writing and language skills. Moreover, I have worked paid research assistantships in other labs (a few hours a week). This avenue can also be useful to obtain research experience if you have interest in other research topics outside of your lab’s.

Awards and additional grants

Sums of money are sometimes available in the form of awards and research grants. For example, there are certain awards for service and leadership that come with a monetary honorarium. Additionally, as discussed, research and travel grants can support your ability to conduct research and desire to travel. Some research grants are not only limited to paying participants and purchasing research relevant equipment; they can also be partially used to pay yourself as part of a stipend.


I hope this post was helpful in getting a general sense of salary for a PhD student in clinical psychology. It’s hard to be incredibly specific given the variability of each program in funding their students. However, the specific methods of increasing your income applicable to most programs.

Below are a few other posts that may be helpful to support prospective and current graduate students.

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Best wishes,