Are you considering studying in psychology? Completing a psychology degree is a rewarding choice because it leads to a fulfilling career of helping people in a wide range of work settings. According to the American Psychological Association (APA),
“Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience — from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, “the understanding of behavior” is the enterprise of psychologists.”
There are different psychology programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. That’s why it is important that you understand the level of education that you need for your chosen career. Some career options accept a bachelor’s degree while most professional psychology careers require a graduate degree such as a master’s degree for counseling and a doctorate degree for a practicing psychologist.
|Psychology Degrees At A Glance|
|Program Length||1.5 to 2 years||4-6 years||2-3 years||5-7 years|
|Courses||Basic and foundational courses||Broad applications of principles and theories||Advanced coursework and narrower specialization||Highest level of courses and specialization|
|Career Options||Entry-level positions in social welfare industries, early childhood education, and addiction rehabilitation counseling.||Entry-level positions in management, marketing, human resources, writing, and childcare.||Increase in career options fields such as schools, government, hospitals, and corporations, and many more.||Career options are endless which include private practice or working in almost any organization such as healthcare, teaching, social work, and more.|
Psychology courses are increasing in popularity over the decades. As of 2014, NCES has noted a total of 117, 298* bachelor’s degree students, 15,466** master’s degree students, and 10,564** doctorate students.
Psychology is an attractive program for many students because of the opportunity to work with different kinds of people in a variety of settings. Graduates can go to hospital settings, corporations, as well as teaching and research. It is a wide encompassing area of study that is very relatable and relevant to students of different backgrounds, goals, and needs.
Taking a psychology degree program also hones numerous skills and competencies that are needed by many industries. Examples of these skills are knowing how to interact with people, knowing how people learn and function, knowing how to research and interpret data, knowing how to employ critical thinking, and knowing how to deal with high-stress situations.
Associate’s Degree in Psychology
An associate degree in psychology is an introduction to the basics and fundamentals of psychology. You will obtain foundational knowledge that can help you gain access to careers. Others treat it as a stepping stone towards higher education.
To enter an associate’s degree, you will need either a high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED). The program usually takes two years to complete. You also have the option to take Associates of Science (A.S. in Psychology), Associates of Applied Science (A.A.S. in Psychology), Associates of Arts (A.A. in Psychology), and General Associates Degree with concentration in Psychology. Most programs under the associate’s degree will include introduction on foundational topics in psychology.
Job opportunities are somewhat limited with this type of psychology degree since many entry-level positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, there are many social work careers, early childhood education, and addiction rehabilitation counseling. Another option is to take your learning further to bachelor’s or graduate level study to gain more access to jobs.
Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is considered an undergraduate-level degree that takes four to six years to complete depending if you choose a full-time or a part-time status. You can also choose between a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BS) and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (BA).
Most courses in the bachelor’s level revolve around broad applications of principles and theories. There is a mix of core classes, major classes, and elective options that are unique to each school.
Job opportunities increase at this level. Many bachelor’s degree graduates land entry-level positions in management, marketing, human resources, writing, and childcare.
Master’s Degree in Psychology
A Psychology master’s degree is considered a graduate-level degree that takes two to three years to complete. A master’s degree enables you to gain a narrower specialization than that at the bachelor’s level. You can also choose between the Master of Arts (MA) and the Master of Science (MS). Bear in mind that schools have unique courses for each program type so take time to study the school’s catalog.
Career options further increase once you obtain a master’s degree in psychology. Various specializations in psychology (such as developmental psychology, industrial organizational psychology, and counseling psychology) open up careers in schools, government, hospitals, and corporations.
Doctorate Degree in Psychology
A doctorate degree is the highest level of formal training in psychology. Students who wish to have a serious and successful career in professional psychology view this psychology program as an ideal path.
A doctorate degree takes five to seven years to complete. Students can choose between PhD programs which confer a Ph.D. in Psychology and PsyD or Doctor of Psychology programs. The former puts more emphasis on research and experimentation while the latter focuses on practice and application.
Having a doctorate level will enable you to acquire a license to open up your own private practice and apply your knowledge in psychology. Further, since the doctorate level is the highest level, the career options are endless. Other work settings include clinics, hospitals, prisons, police stations, federal government, state agencies, colleges and universities, research laboratories, and the corporate sector.
Learn more about PhD in Psychology here. You can also read about PsyD programs here. View our sponsored schools that offer this degree here.
Since psychology is a broad field, it can be narrowed down to specializations. Different psychology degrees can specialize in the following:
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Clinical psychology
- Cognitive Psychology
- Counseling Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Educational Psychology
- Experimental Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Sports Psychology
Learn more about the different specializations and psychology career options.
- * https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=37