This paper aims to articulate the multi-regulatory and complex territory that programme developers of professional doctorates are required to navigate, and, using examples from Health Psychology and Sport and Exercise Psychology, discusses the impact of this territory on programme development. ‘Practitioner Psychologist’ is a legally protected title for use by those listed on the UK’s Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register of practitioner psychologists. Achieving registration involves undergoing training to meet the HCPC prescribed standards, with the professional practitioner doctorate representing a viable training vehicle. The paper makes critical comparison between the HCPC standard-driven research and practice competences required of psychology professionals in a professional doctorate framework, versus traditional professional doctorates that provide a platform for qualified ‘in situ’ professionals to undertake research that problem solves and generates real–world application. For programme developers, the paper outlines a number of key considerations, including the importance of considering the territorial compatibility between the professional body requirements and the associated university framework to develop a viable product. The paper also provides some useful and informative suggestions for programme developers who may encounter similar territorial challenges, and is of relevance to an international audience interested in programme design for certified professional practitioners.