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This article gives an overview of the masters in applied psychology degree program, some of the subjects and courses you would take as part of the curriculum, and why you may want to choose this degree to further your career. It will also present a description of an online masters in applied psychology program that you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Applied Psychology?
The field of applied psychology is highly specific. It has set scopes, standpoints, and aims designed to address human problems. The subject of psychology is theoretical in nature, but applied psychology is far more practical. Essentially, it concerns itself with applying the theories to real-life situations. Psychology is about understanding human behavior, with a focus on the inner mind. Applied psychology, meanwhile, is about improving the health and well-being of people at every stage of development.
Those who work in the field of applied psychology aim to be subjective. This is because they are not theoretical researchers, which is a more objective field. This key difference also determines exactly how applied psychologists work, and what results they expect. This field can be subdivided into forensic, industrial and organization, sports, human factors, and health psychology.
The only real downside of the field of psychology is that you must complete a doctorate degree in order to practice. Hence, the masters in applied psychology is but a stepping stone towards the future.
Why Earn a Masters in Applied Psychology?
There is a huge demand for psychologists across the board, although they do have to be educated to doctoral standards, except for the school psychologist. It is also believed that this particular field of work will see tremendous growth over the coming years, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a job growth of 19% from 2014 to 2024, which translates 32,500 jobs. There are a number of reasons why this demand is so strong, including the fact that:
- There is less of a stigma on mental health, meaning people are confident about asking help when they need it.
- There is an increased understanding about the fact that many behaviors are linked to mental illnesses rather than criminal behaviors. Drug addiction is a key example of that.
- The aging population on the one hand leads to more demand for psychological services and, on the other hand, leads to a large number of psychologists who are retiring.
If you earn a master’s in applied psychology, you can go on to study towards a doctorate degree. This will enable you to work in independent research or in direct patient counseling. Alternatively, you can work as part of a multidisciplinary team with social workers, physicians, and others involved in holistic care. You may even be able to do some of this with a master’s degree only.
A large percentage of masters in applied psychology graduates go on to study towards a doctorate degree. This is because they want to work directly with patients who have mental health issues. Sometimes, they focus their skills on particular elements of care, such as assessment, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment. At other times, they focus on specific mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. Others, meanwhile, move out of the front line mental health provision fields, researching specific conditions instead.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that psychologists earned a median salary of $75,230 per year as of May 2016. However, this salary is for those who hold a doctorate degree, which is required to be licensed and practice as a psychologist. The vast majority of those who obtain a masters in applied psychology will move on to complete a doctorate degree.
This career brings a number of key benefits with it, including the fact that employment is almost guaranteed, but only once you hold your doctorate degree. Applied psychologists also work independently, which many find to be beneficial. Mainly, however, it is an incredibly rewarding career, as you can see how your work makes a positive impact on the health and well-being of your patients.
Online Option for Masters in Applied Psychology
Sacred Heart University
If you wish to study towards a masters in applied psychology, you may want to consider Sacred Heart University‘s Master of Science in Applied Psychology (MSAP) program, which is offered online. This program has been designed for those who want to improve human performance and happiness. Graduates seek out those who need assistance and support, be that in the public or private sector. This degree perfectly blends workplace and behavioral psychology, ensuring that graduates know how to use available resources to conduct research in behavioral problems, and using psychological theories to find solutions. They will then apply this to the real world, and then move on to the doctorate program.
Sacred Heart University offers three specific areas of concentration for their masters in applied psychology:
- Industrial-organizational psychology, which focuses on psychology in the workplace
- Community psychology, which focuses on social services and nonprofit organizations
- General applied psychology, through which students can choose among four elective courses to suit their personal interests
Sacred Heart University is a highly respected university, having been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for three years in a row. SuperScholar also ranked it among the 50 best programs of its kind. This is in part due to the expert faculty members that the school has employed to deliver the program. Indeed, they are highly distinguished, and 90% of all faculty members have a doctorate degree.
The degree is delivered online, which means there is no requirement for clinical hours. It is a researched-based degree and can be completed in two years. Start dates are available six times per year for the convenience of students. Classes are capped to ensure a highly personalized, involved, and interactive experience for all students. Students have to complete a capstone course, in which there are three different options (exam/essay, thesis, or field work).
The core curriculum of the degree includes:
- Foundations of Applied Psychology
- Developmental Issues Across the Life Span
- Identifying and Managing Psychopathology in Community Settings
- Applied Research Methods and Statistics
- Individual Psychological Assessment and Appraisal
- Program Development and Evaluation
Obtaining a masters in applied psychology is a great way to give yourself the necessary research and leadership skills to advance your career. It is expected that you will move on to a doctorate degree in order to be able to practice as a psychologist. That said, the master’s degree will provide you with important and transferable skills that will allow you to embark on a long and interesting career.
- Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
- Master’s in Applied Psychology (MSAP). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://onlineprograms.sacredheart.edu/msap/masters-degree-psychology-overview