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If you are considering earning a degree in psychology, you will quickly see just how many options there are. Psychology degrees span the gamut of levels, from undergraduate to postgraduate. Furthermore, and particularly at graduate level, there are many sub-types of psychology degrees to choose from. Your starting point, therefore, should be to determine the type of career in psychology you would like to have once you complete your degree.
Let’s take a closer look.
Different Types of Psychology Degrees by Level
1. Associate’s Degree
This is an undergraduate degree that you can complete in about two years, usually at a community college. Most students go on to earn a bachelor’s degree as well. Unfortunately, not many jobs are available for those with this degree, with the exception of psychiatric technician jobs in mental health hospitals. Some rehab jobs may also be open to you, although you will need to have completed 32 social science credit hours.
2. Bachelor’s Degree
This degree can be completed in four years. You can earn a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or a BS (Bachelor of Science). BA degrees focus on the liberal arts, whereas the BS degrees focus on science. More job opportunities exist for those who have complete the bachelor’s degree, but studies have shown only 25% of those who enter the workforce with this degree work in their field. Some job options include rehab specialist, career counselor, psychiatric technician, and case manager. Most, however, go or jobs in childcare, training, marketing, sales, or advertising.
3. Master’s Degree
The master’s degree is a graduate degree that can be completed within 18 months to three years. As with the bachelor’s degree, students can choose between an MA (Master of Arts) and an MS (Master of Science). There are quite a lot of jobs for those who have this degree, which is why this is the option most psychologists would go for. There are some “terminal degree” master programs in psychology, whereas others prepare students to go on and get a doctorate degree. With a master’s in psychology, you can find work in psychological and related fields, but the job market is incredibly competitive.
4. Doctorate Degree
There are two doctorate degrees available in psychology. The first is the Ph.D. in psychology, which is the doctor in philosophy. This takes between five and seven years to complete. The focus is mainly on research, and it prepares people to work in a psychotherapy area, or in psychological research.
The second type of doctorate degree is the Psy.D., which is the doctor of psychology. This degree focuses more on clinical practice. Once completed, you can become licensed to diagnose and treat mental illness, provide psychotherapy, and conduct psychological tests. It usually takes between four and seven years to complete this degree.
Both doctorate degrees include coursework, practical experiences, and internships. After graduation, you can take a state and/or national licensing exam. Then, you will have to work under supervision for a period of time, before you can become an independent practitioner.
Different Types of Psychology Degrees by Concentration
1. Child Psychology or Developmental Psychology
This is perfect for those who like working with children, as they will focus on their psychological development. Most who graduate in this field will work in private practices, educational settings, outpatient clinics, and pediatric hospitals.
2. Counseling Psychology
This field means that you will conduct behavioral modification and therapeutic interventions to help improve the mental health of patients. Your goal is to make positive changes in the behaviors of families, groups, and individuals. Once licensed, you can work in government agencies, hospitals, schools, community centers, and private practices.
3. Experimental Psychology
This field focuses strongly on designing studies, conducting empirical research, and understanding in full the ethical dilemmas that those who study living beings have to face. You will research various psychological topics through observation of human and animal behavior. You can do this through data collection, understanding various psychological phenomena. As an experimental psychologist, you can work in research universities and government centers.
4. General Psychology
General psychology gives you the opportunity to take on virtually any psychological career. You will learn about psychological theory, practice, and research. Often, students end up choosing a specialty minor as well. Employment opportunities exist in education, business, hospitals, local agencies, and federal agencies.
5. Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology looks at behavioral and psychodynamic approaches within the different psychological theories. It focuses on treating and assessing abnormal behavior, psychiatric problems, and mental illness. Clinical psychology works on treating complex problems with the human mind, taking a scientific approach to this. It is a field that is both challenging and rewarding, and you can expect to work in universities, colleges, medical settings, and private practices.
6. Health Psychology
The field of health psychology uses psychological research and theory in order to help communities, groups, and individuals to develop ways to be healthier in their lives. Graduates understand not just the human mind, but also focus on stress, wellness, health, and nutrition, and also on psychological interventions. You can get to work in community health clinics, hospitals, government agencies, corporations, private research centers, and universities.
7. Media Psychology
The field of media psychology is a brand new one, and you can truly make pioneering changes in this area. Every time a new social media platform is released, this field changes. As a result, if you graduate in this area, you can develop the foundations needed for future psychologist. You will study in the area where media and human behavior overlap. This means that you will look at human generation, consumption, and information spreading, using various media technologies. Jobs exist in private, laboratory, and university settings and are fully research based.
8. Engineering Psychology
Engineering psychology looks at how machines and humans interact, and it is a growing field of psychology because we are now so reliant on technology. You can use your knowledge to improve technological design, learning about what both the abilities and the restrictions are of human beings, focusing on perception, movement control, and cognition. You can integrate this with efforts towards the creation of new technologies that align better with human needs. Usually, engineering psychologists work in the private sector.
9. Social Psychology
A social psychologist focuses on various social issues using a psychological perspective. You will develop ideas and theories to create a better understanding of how humans behave overall. You will look at how human beings feel and think, and how they relate to others. Usually, you will work with influential theories, but you will also develop your own on how individuals and groups develop and maintain identities, and how people respond when they face perceived power.
10. Forensic Psychology
The field of forensic psychology will allow you to practice and research the area of forensics. This includes design and research, contextual and legal issues, and general skills in this field. This is a field that is seen as a very varied one, allowing you to work within occupational or clinical areas. You are likely to work across health services and government agencies, managing or consulting with others. Your clients will include those in the criminal justice system, including victims and offenders.
11. Industrial Organizational Psychology
The field of industrial organizational psychology is one of the fastest growing ones. The focus is on how psychology can be used to create solutions that improve workplace relationships, between employers, and employees. You will apply innovative methods and the latest research to improve how businesses operate. This work has been shown to be incredibly effective, because it is the first time a psychological discipline truly integrates the human influence and the business influence. You will motivate people to work more, create multicultural business environments, manage organizational change, and build leadership. It is a very diverse field of work, and most job opportunities are in consultancy, academic fields, and the world of business.
12. School Psychology
School psychologists work within educational settings. You will work together with students who have academic, behavioral, and psychiatric problems, creating interventions and providing support. There is a strong focus on ethical and multicultural concerns within education. You will work together with parents, school administrators, and teachers, ensuring that your services help to improve how young people experience their educational pathways.
13. Military Psychology
The field of military psychology uses theories and principles within existing psychological research to review the unique political, environmental, and cultural aspects of the military. You may yourself be on active duty, or you may be a civilian who works within universities, corporate settings, or military bases. Generally, you will work both with active duty personal and veterans, as well as with their families. Some of the focus areas are post traumatic stress, suicide, substance abuse, and transitioning out of the military.
14. Sport Psychology
Sport psychology focuses on helping people build up their endurance and overall physical fitness. It is a very challenging degree that ensures you receive both the theoretical knowledge and hands on experience in the interactions of humans and sports. The focus is usually on performance enhancement, sport science, and counseling intervention, and the goal is to ensure people can become better athletes overall. You are likely to work in community organizations, athlete teams, and college teams.
Clearly, there are many different degrees and fields in psychology, which show just how wide this discipline is. You need to learn what type of psychology degree will be right for you. This is why, as previously said, the starting point should be thinking about what you would like to do once you are psychologist. Because you may have to study for a long time, early planning is vital if you want to make sure you follow the right career path for your interests.