Interested in a career that focuses on how the mind, brain and behavior work together? Earning a psychology degree may place you on the path to pursu...
Interested in a career that focuses on how the mind, brain and behavior work together? Earning a psychology degree may place you on the path to pursuing a variety of roles in the field. Professionals in this area observe, interpret and record individuals’ cognitive, emotional and social skills. They focus their work on how humans interact with one another and their environments. And in turn, they provide their clients with the resources to cope more effectively with challenging life issues.
Psychology Degree Levels
Typically completed in two years, an associate’s degree in psychology is offered at most community colleges. After completion, students will often transfer to a four-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree. Because more education is typically required to work in the field, an associate’s in psychology is usually a stepping stone degree that offers an educational foundation for further studies. Consider pairing a psychology associate degree with other courses in social or health sciences, business, or education to become more employable. Graduates may find rewarding careers working with children, teens, or adults in residential treatment programs, mental hospitals as psychiatric technicians, or helping people who call crisis hotlines.
As one of the most popular four-year, undergraduate programs in the nation, a bachelor’s degree in psychology is offered by most schools as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or as a Bachelor of Science (BS) with a major in psychology. A BA degree typically requires more liberal arts and general education classes, while a BS focuses on the science- and math-related general education courses. Students should choose a BA or BS depending on their interests and career aspirations, but they are comparably valuable. Those who earn bachelor’s degrees in psychology may become employed in a wide range of industries since graduates are well-rounded, analytical thinkers who understand human behavior and succeed in jobs that require strong social and communication skills.
There are many different types of master’s degree programs in psychology. Some schools offer generalist programs, which provide an overview of graduate-level topics in psychology, while others offer training in specialized areas. Those with significant working experience can have successful careers in market research and consulting, commonly working under a licensed psychologist’s direction. In some states, individuals with a master’s degree in psychology can become licensed to provide limited clinical services, though they must do so under the supervision of a licensed, doctoral-level psychologist. Not all master’s degree in psychology programs are designed to prepare graduates for the workforce; some are focused on developing students for PsyD or PhD degrees.
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
A Doctor of Psychology, or PsyD, is a doctoral-level professional degree that trains students to provide assessment and therapy services to patients and clients. A PsyD can only be earned in the areas of counseling, clinical, or school psychology, as these are the three subfields that are eligible for licensure and clinical practice. Although PsyD programs include less of a focus on research than PhD programs, students are still required to complete thesis and dissertation projects and may become involved in other research opportunities.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology
A PhD in psychology typically requires between five and seven years of graduate study. In comparison to PsyD programs, PhD programs generally require more involvement in research. PhD students in counseling, clinical, and school psychology programs can expect to be prepared for careers in clinical practice, research, or teaching after graduation, as these programs incorporate training in all of these areas. PhD programs in other subfields of psychology (such as cognitive, social, or developmental psychology) do not include clinical training and graduates cannot become licensed to practice; instead, they generally work in research-focused positions. The employment opportunities for PhD in psychology holders include universities and four-year colleges, hospitals, outpatient clinics, community health centers, primary care offices, and college counseling centers.