Psychology is a highly popular undergraduate major. Unfortunately, very few careers are available to individuals who have only earned a bachelor's degree in psychology. Going on to graduate school is the best option for many students, and luckily, master's degree choices are plentiful for individuals with a background in psychology.
Psychology: Terminal Master's
Perhaps the most common degree obtained by students with a bachelor's degree in psychology is a master's in psychology. Once students earn a master's degree, they can find relevant work in counseling, therapy, and other related careers. Master's degrees in psychology are somewhat competitive but typically offer much higher acceptance rates than Ph.D. programs. Students can finance their degree through graduate assistantships in teaching and research, but assistantships are very competitive. Students earning a master's degree in psychology are often expected to complete internships or otherwise gain practical experience, as most terminal master's programs are directed more toward clinical work than research.
Psychology: Ph.D. or Psy.D. Track
Ph.D. or Psy.D. track programs usually do not offer terminal master's degrees. Instead, students sign on for all five years required to earn their Ph.D. or Psy.D. at one school and earn their master's degree along the way. Ph.D. programs are extremely competitive and difficult to get into, while Psy.D. programs are somewhat less competitive. A student with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. has excellent career prospects in a wide variety of settings. Ph.D. programs are typically focused on research, while Psy.D. programs focus on clinical work.
Related Mental Health Fields
Students with a bachelor's degree in psychology can also seek a master's degree in a related mental health field. Many students pursue degrees in social work, rehabilitation counseling, and drug addiction counseling, among others. A bachelor's degree in psychology can be extremely helpful for students wishing to pursue degrees in related fields. A large portion of non-psychology mental health work deals with human interactions and motivations, which psychology majors are very familiar with.
Many students with a bachelor's degree in psychology go on to earn master's degrees in unrelated fields, such as law, medicine, nursing, dentistry, physical therapy, speech therapy, and business. A degree in psychology can be useful in numerous fields that require a basic understanding of the human psyche. Most master's programs accepting students with degrees in unrelated fields require the completion of some prerequisites, such as basic classes in the desired field. Other programs, such as law, require no further preparation than earning a bachelor's degree. Students interested in attending graduate degrees in non-psychology fields should begin preparing long before graduation, or be prepared to complete a few extra classes before acceptance.
- University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: The Master's Degree in Psychology
- "The Insider's Guide to the Psychology Major: Everything You Need to Know About the Degree and Profession"; Amira Rezec Wegenek; 2010.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
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