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If you are considering a master’s degree in psychology, this could be the ticket to a very rewarding career, both financially and personally. As more Americans grow older and enter retirement, it is expected that many more people will seek the assistance of psychologists and mental health counselors.
It is for that reason that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the field of psychology as a whole will experience 19% job growth from 2014 to 2024. Some specific fields of psychology, such as clinical and counseling psychology, may experience even more rapid growth.
Professionals who want to become psychologists will need to earn at least their master’s degree, and those who want to work in private practice must eventually earn their doctorate.
The most popular and common types of master’s in psychology degrees are the following:
A master’s degree in clinical psychology teaches you skills and knowledge to help clients to identify emotional, mental and behavioral problems in their lives. Using interviews, tests and observations, a clinical psychologist learns how to diagnose any potential or existing mental health disorders.
Clinical psychologists monitor the progress of the client on a timely basis to ensure that all needs are met to deal with mental health problems. Training activities in clinical psychology programs expose students to the relationship between scientific research and clinical services, as well as to various systems and methods of intervention and assessment.
This type of degree takes up to three years to complete, and may include the following courses:
- Psychopathology from a Clinical Perspective
- Lifespan Development
- Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice
- Research Theory, Design and Methods
- Psychological Assessment
- Culture and Psychology
- Psychological Interventions
- Social Psychology
A master’s degree in counseling psychology is focused upon teaching you to facilitate personal and interpersonal functioning across the entire life span. A master’s in counseling psychology places a strong emphasis on social, emotional, vocational, educational and developmental concerns.
A counseling psychology degree covers a wide range of culturally sensitive psychological practices that can help people to enhance their overall well being, reduce stress and maladjustment, and to resolve personal crises. This type of master’s degree in psychology also is focused on normal developmental problems and issues that are associated with emotional, physical and mental disorders.
Counseling psychologists will serve people in all age groups and cultural backgrounds. They typically work with people with less serious mental health issues, ranging from anxiety to depression, as well as relationship concerns.
Common courses that are taken in a counseling psychology program include:
- Human Development Through the Lifespan
- Understanding Research in Education
- Educational Measurement
- Counseling and Interviewing Skills
- Counseling Theory and Techniques
- Individual and Group Assessment
- Group Theory and Process
- Career Development
- Individual and Cultural Differences in Counseling Psychology
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Professional Psychology
- Diagnosis and Psychopathology
A master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology helps you to understand how human behavior affects the workplace. Through a combination of business and psychology courses, students will learn how they can use psychological principles and practices to solve problems in a variety of business areas. Some of the most common areas where you can use psychological principles to solve work problems include HR, sales, administration, management, marketing and more.
This type of master’s degree teaches you psychological principles and techniques to solve various work problems and to enhance quality of life for people on the job. You also will learn how to help employers to boost worker productivity. Industrial/organizational psychology also can be very useful to make policy decisions, screen employees and develop new training practices.
Industrial/organizational psychology programs feature a combination of organizational and clinical courses as well as business management courses. This gives you a very well rounded knowledge base so that you can understand and influence dynamics in your workplace. You also may choose to take courses to enhance your research skills and expertise.
The curriculum in this type of program will vary widely, but you can expect to take these types of courses:
- Consulting for Organizational Change
- Behavior Theories and Strategies
- Workplace Motivation and Attitudes
- Research Theory, Design, and Methods
- IO Tests and Measurement
- Personnel Psychology in the Workplace
- Training and Evaluation
A master’s degree in school psychology focuses on learning psychology and how it can vary between young people of varying ages. A master’s in school psychology program will teach you how to become skilled in identifying and testing for various emotional, learning and behavioral disorders, as well as the types of services students might need as a result of those issues.
School psychological programs often also cover strategies for intervention, as well as how one’s culture and socioeconomic status can have an effect on psychological health and well being. This type of psychology program also will prepare you to work in a school system and school to handle the following responsibilities:
- Helping students to overcome various barriers to learning, including behavioral disorders
- Intervene and offer support to students, families and teachers
- Assist schools in providing essential support services to schools
- Talk to students about their strengths and weaknesses, and how to best work through various personal and behavioral problems
A key part of choosing the correct school psychology master’s degree is ensuring that the program is focused on your career goals. For instance, you may want to work more in school and education psychology research. In that situation, you may want to look for a more theoretical curriculum. Another student could be interested in working more one on one with students. For that person, a practitioner-focused school psychology program is a better fit.
Typical courses in a practitioner-focused program are:
- Individual Testing
- Law, Ethics, and the History of School Psychology
- Statistical Analysis of Experimental Data
- School Psychology Practicum
- Academic Assessment and Intervention
- Research Design and Methods for Psychology
- Child Psychopathology
- Fundamentals of Behavioral Theory and Intervention
A master’s degree in forensic psychology explores the complex intersection of law and psychology. This type of psychology degree program looks at psychological practices and theories in the justice system and in law enforcement agencies.
Students in a forensic psychology program study advanced psychology concepts, the legal and criminal justice systems, and various topics in analysis and research. Student gain a better grasp of what influences criminal behavior and how psychological, social and biological factors can affect it. If you study forensic psychology, you may look forward to a career as an expert witness, offering therapy to criminals or victims of crime, or conduct criminal psychology research.
There are many possible specializations within forensic psychology, such as family violence, military studies, terrorism, victimology, police psychology, and cyber crimes.
Common coursework includes:
- Abnormal psychology
- Criminal psychology
- Psychological profiling
- Theories of criminal behavior
- Courtroom and legal issues
- Children and adolescents in the legal system
- Consultation and testimony
- Interrogation and interviewing
- Family law
- Evaluation and treatment of offenders
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- Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
- Master in Psychology Requirements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://epsy.ku.edu/sites/epsy.ku.edu/files/docs/academics/cpsy/MS%20Program%20Requirements%202016.pdf
- Master of Science in Clinical Psychology Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/masters/ms-in-clinical-psychology/curriculum/general-program