This article provides an overview of the masters in applied research degree program, some of the subject matters and courses that the program covers, and why this particular degree could be excellent for your personal career advancement. It also presents a high-quality masters in applied research that is available online.
What Is a Masters in Applied Research?
Graduate studies in the field of applied research usually focus on applied clinical psychology. As a result, the degree programs often require hands-on experiences, such as internships, in clinical settings, whereby students receive professional supervision. It is also common for programs to require students to submit a thesis.
The masters in applied research is focused on both family- and individual-oriented topics, ensuring that graduates are ready to take on a wealth of different concerns affecting personal lives. Once the degree has been completed, students can become licensed as counselors, or they can continue their studies and complete a doctorate degree, enabling them to become licensed as psychologists.
It usually takes two years to complete this master’s degree. Schools can set their own admission requirements, although a bachelor’s degree in a social science, preferably counseling or psychology, is usually requested. GRE scores are also usually needed. Some schools also offer specialization options, such as drug and alcohol support, family therapy, or marriage counseling.
Most of the graduates of the masters in applied research program go on to study clinical psychology at the PhD level, meaning they learn how to research psychological conditions and how those should be treated. Often, they will focus on specific mental health challenges, whether they are chronic mental illnesses or just temporary crises. Specifically, the master’s degree will teach them how to evaluate the personal problems that people are experiencing, including their behavioral disorders, and help them overcome a range of emotional traumas. They also learn how to assess the people they work with, and come up with treatment plans. Often, they work not just with individuals, but also with groups, couples, or even entire families.
It is common for them to conduct research on everyday stress, substance abuse, divorce, and death in particular. They learn therapeutic techniques and how to test these for their effectiveness. While different schools can set their own curriculum, the following topics are often as part of the core curriculum:
- Research and Statistics
- Professional Ethics
- Child and Adolescent Therapy
- Abnormal Psychology
- Family Counseling
- Human Sexuality
Why Earn a Masters in Applied Research?
If you want to work in any form of counseling, you will require state licensure. Usually, a master’s degree is required for licensure as a counselor, whereas a doctorate is required for licensure as a psychologist. Hence, by obtaining a masters in applied research, you have the opportunity to either seek counseling licensure, or to go on to get a doctorate degree and then get licensed as a psychologist.
For both types of licensure, a clinical practicum is generally required. Most degree programs will include an internship or some other form of supervised work experience, which means most of those requirements are already met. Furthermore, the degree prepares students to take part in the relevant state examinations.
It is also possible to complete any of 14 different voluntary certifications made available through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). However, to obtain any of those certifications (including clinical child and adolescent psychology, couple and family psychology, or clinical psychology for instance), a doctorate degree is required. Naturally, completing the master’s in applied research can help significantly towards that.
Those who do not wish to study towards a doctorate degree, however, can also take on careers in a variety of other psychological specializations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that clinical, counseling, and school psychologists had a median salary of $73,270 per year as of May 2016.
Online Option for Masters in Applied Research
If you are interested in getting a masters in applied research degree, you may want to consider the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Applied Research that is offered by Capella University. This degree has been developed to provide students with a direct path into a Clinical PhD or PsyD, using course work that combines both practice-orientated skills and knowledge, and research. Graduates have the foundational skills required to take on positions of research or academia, while being encouraged to complete a doctorate degree level.
All courses are offered by practitioner-scholars, who engage their students and emphasize how psychological theories can be applied. They also look at ethical principles, research methods, psychopathology, and psychological assessments. Graduates are ready to apply research and theoretical findings to academic and professional activities. They can then go on to complete a PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology at almost any university in the country.
Graduates are respected for their ability to:
- Analyze existing research in clinical psychology
- Apply various ethical principles that relate to psychological practice in clinical psychology, including in research and academics
- Evaluate the importance of diversity by focusing on multicultural issues
- Apply research and theory findings to the standards of practice within the clinical psychology professional discipline
- Communicate properly through various technologies and scholarly writing, while using the clinical psychology professional standards
Core courses include:
- Foundations of Theory and Practice for Master’s Psychology Learners
- Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
- Introduction to Psychopathology
- Tests and Measurements
- Survey of Research Methods
- History and Systems
- Lifespan Development
- Biological Bases of Behavior
- Multicultural Perspectives in Human Behavior
- Quantitative Design and Analysis
- Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice
Graduates usually go on to complete a doctorate degree. However, they can also take on careers as:
- Part time or adjunct faculty instructor
- Research scientist
- Research associate
- Research psychologist
Graduates have also found employment in community colleges, online and land-based colleges and universities, the military, federal, state, and local government, nonprofit organizations, inpatient and outpatient hospitals and clinics, the health care system, correctional facilities, mental health clinics, and more.
According to the BLS, the greatest career opportunities exist for those who have a doctorate degree, a specialization, and a lot of practical experience. Master’s degree holders, however, also have various career opportunities available to them, some of which do require licensure, such as:
- Research assistant
- Psychology assistant
- Emergency assessment counselor
- Child and adolescent therapist
- Marriage and family counselor
Clearly, earning a masters in applied research is a great way to advance your career. You can choose to continue your educational journey by obtaining a doctorate degree and becoming licensed as a psychologist, or you can seek licensure as a counselor or therapist at the master’s degree level. Either way, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to make a meaningful and positive difference in the lives of others, something to take a great deal of pride in.
- Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists. (2017, Mar. 31). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm
- Applied Research Specialization – Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/masters-psychology-applied-research/
- American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.abpp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285