Master’s Degree in Psychology

Master's Degree in Psychology

A master’s in psychology requires two to three years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree and can open up a whole new world of career opportunities. There are two types of psychology degrees at the master’s level: the Master of Arts (MA) and the Master of Science (MS). MA programs have a strong foundation in the liberal arts, whereas MS programs focus heavily on research and the sciences. Explore the benefits of a master’s degree in psychology to determine whether it is worthwhile for you to enroll in a graduate psychology program.

Prerequisites for Master’s Degrees in Psychology

The prerequisites for MS and MA programs in psychology are usually a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum required GPA, letters of reference, and minimum required GRE scores. Some master’s degrees in psychology are terminal, or in other words, prepare graduates to practice in their area of specialty. Other graduate programs in psychology prepare students for PhD programs.
Areas of specialty include clinical psychology, experimental psychology, forensic psychology, industrial organizational psychology, developmental psychology, counseling, and child psychology, among others. Some master’s programs focus on general psychology, and thus, give students the flexibility to pursue a variety of areas in psychology. Courses that psychology students may be required to take include:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders
  • Personality assessment
  • Social psychology
  • Theories of personality
  • Techniques of counseling & psychotherapy
  • Physiological psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Behavioral principles & theories of learning

Students are often required to complete a practicum before graduation to gain hands-on experience in their area of choice. Graduates of psychology master’s degree programs tend to come away with a thorough understanding of psychological theories and research, as well as the processes that underlie human development and behavior. In addition, psychology graduates are prepared to apply psychological theories to real-world situations. Depending on the psychology specialty you choose to pursue, state licensure may be required. Voluntary certification is also available in a variety of fields.

Jobs for Psychology Master’s Degree Holders

Terminal master’s programs in psychology could prepare you for careers in forensic psychology, industrial organizational psychology, and mental health. Organizations that employ psychology graduate degree holders include private companies, colleges and universities, government agencies, and healthcare facilities. Potential jobs for psychology graduates include the following:

  • Behavioral counselor
  • Family services worker
  • Industrial organizational psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Mental health counselor
  • Group home coordinator
  • Vocational rehabilitation provider
  • Employment counselor
  • Human resources analyst
  • Social service manager

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of psychologists is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020, with large growth expected in the area of industrial organizational psychology as companies will continually seek to improve employee efficiency in the coming years. Candidates with master’s degrees face high competition for jobs, and many work in related fields outside of psychology, such as social work, criminal justice, and business administration or pursue further graduate study at the doctoral level. In 2010, psychologists earned a median annual wage of $68,640. The lowest 10% earned $39,200, and the highest 10% earned more than $111,810.

A degree in psychology can open the door to an array of careers. Studying psychology at the graduate level also offers opportunities for personal growth, because you learn so much about the human mind and behavior. If you enjoy working with people and want to learn more about yourself and others while advancing your career, pursue a master’s in psychology today.