A psychology master’s degree is a graduate-level degree that takes two to three years to complete and is often tailored around a specific specialization, for example, school counseling or marriage and family counseling. Similar to the bachelor’s degree, there are generally two types of master’s in psychology. These are the Master of Arts (MA) and the Master of Science (MS). A Master of Arts in Psychology puts focus on counseling and is liberal arts oriented, while the Master of Science in Psychology emphasizes research and sciences. Bear in mind that schools have unique courses and tracks for each program, so take time to understand what each specialization entails. Many people are opting to obtain their degree online or through a hybrid program that requires online work and periodic visits to campus. Campus, hybrid, and online programs offer students a variety of means to fit education into their schedule.
In some schools, a terminal master’s degree is offered which is a stand-alone program. Students who wish to enter this type of program generally aim to gain additional training and credentials in preparation for a doctoral program or to acquire knowledge and skills to progress in a particular career path or work setting.
Masters Degree At a Glance
- Degree Options: The two general types are Master of Arts in Psychology and Master of Science in Psychology. Programs are offered online or on campus.
- Specializations: The master’s degree in psychology has various specializations such as counseling, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, and a lot more.
- Admission Requirements: Schools have a variety of admission requirements. Although preferred, many don’t require coursework in psychology. In addition, you need to present test scores, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
- Acceptance Rate: 57.4 % * of students who apply for a master’s degree in psychology get accepted.
Years: Program completion generally takes 2-3 years.
- Certification or Licensing: In most states, having a master’s degree will qualify you for a counseling license. Doctorate is required for licensed psychologist
Planning early does wonders if you intend to pursue masters in psychology. Below are practical tips to aid you in your application.
- Check the prerequisite courses and requirements of the programs you are considering so you can take them during your undergraduate study.
- Requirements for admission differ from school to school and program to program. Make sure you research what each program requires before submitting an application.
- Most (but not all) psychology programs prefer undergraduate coursework in psychology.
- Some graduate programs (often Master of Science) prefer students with research experience.
- Some schools require applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Further, some schools might ask you to take the GRE Psychology Subject Test.
- Schools usually require basic admission requirements such as essays, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Ensure that you prepare all needed documents.
Your school of choice may have a number of specializations available for the masters in psychology program. This comes as no surprise as psychology is a very broad field. Taking a psychology master’s degree helps you further specialize in a particular field that you are passionate about. Below are some of the specializations that you can consider when taking up masters in psychology.
The Behavioral Neuroscience specialization concerns with the study of the physiological and neurological basis for cognition and behavior. You will find yourself exploring topics such as parts of the brain are responsible for motivation, language, or emotion.
The Clinical Psychology specialization is the most popular specialization. You will find yourself learning about how to study, diagnose, and treat persons who experience emotional, behavioral, and psychological problems or disorders. Some clinical psychologists help people deal with grief while some treat anxiety and mood disorders, just to name a few.
The Cognitive Psychology specialization is about the study of the nature of cognition or thought. You will explore topics such as attention and information processing.
The Counseling Psychology specialization concerns with activities such as enhancing normative functioning. Other topics include helping people adjust to life changes, and providing vocational assessment and career guidance.
The Developmental Psychology specialization studies human development. You will find yourself learning about patterns of growth, change, and stability, across the life span.
The Educational Psychology specialization focuses on effective teaching and learning. Factors such as abilities, motivation, classroom effect, diversity, and culture are considered.
The Experimental Psychology specialization focuses on conducting scientific research. Researches are usually used to increase knowledge in specific areas such as cognition.
Forensic Psychology specialization concerns with studying and applying psychological findings to legal issues. You will find yourself learning about reliability of eyewitness testimony, juror selection, prisoner evaluation, and whether defendants are competent to provide testimony.
Health Psychology specialization focuses on biological, psychological and social factors and their effects to health and illness. Health psychologists usually think about the most effective ways to control pain or change poor health habits. They also create health care strategies that promote emotional and physical well-being.
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Industrial and Organizational Psychology specialization is about applying psychological principles and scientific research findings to the workplace. Industrial and organizational psychologists concern themselves with manners of recruitment, training, and evaluating employees.
Social Psychology specialization focuses on studying people interaction and social environment influence. You will find yourself learning about topics such as personality, attitude formation and change, persuasion and conformity.
Sport Psychologists specialization focuses on helping athletes achieve their full performance by focusing on their goals, becoming more motivated, and dealing with anxiety and fear of failure.