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Psychology Degree Programs

When you think of a psychologist, do you imagine laying back on a leather recliner, reciting your craziest dreams to someone who jots them down and interprets them? While some of that still might hold true, psychology degree programs have come a long way since the days of Dr. Freud.

Featured Schools Schools with Psychology Degree Programs

Psychologists today still help people with mental and emotional issues, but they also work with students, help improve the workplace, and assist in the judicial system. There is wide array of career opportunities open to anyone interested in psychology. Some of most common kinds of psychologists include:

Clinical Psychologists make up the largest percentage of specialized psychologists. They assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of mental disorders and illnesses, from schizophrenia to depression.

Counseling Psychologists help their patients deal with the day-to-day stresses of life, from workplace to family to school stress.

School Psychologists work with children in elementary and middle school, and also make recommendations to improve the school’s programming and environment.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists use their psychology skills to help improve the workplace.

Developmental Psychologists study human behavior in its many different stages to understand how we grow, learn, and age.

Social Psychologists observe how we interact with out environments, as well as with each other.

Experimental or Research Psychologists work in universities or private research institutions. They study humans as well as animals to grasp a better understanding motivation, thought, attention, learning and memory, sensory and perceptual processes, effects of substance abuse, and genetic and neurological factors affecting behavior.

Forensic Psychologists work to help judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals understand the psychological findings of a particular case. They may also act as expert witnesses, provide counseling to crime victims, and assess a perpetrator’s mental competency.

Types of Psychology Degree Programs Available

Those who receive a Bachelor’s college degree in psychology cannot become practicing psychologists, but they can go into a range of other fields. Because a psychology degree teaches solid critical thinking skills and an understanding of human behavior, this makes it a good precursor to a career in   human services, public relations, advertising & market research, teaching, and retail and sales, among many others.

A Master’s or Doctoral college degree is required for anyone who wants to become a psychologist. (Having your Bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite, but it doesn’t have to be in psychology.) A Master’s Degree will take approximately two years to complete, while a Doctorate degree will take roughly four to seven years to complete.

If you’re considering going for the doctoral degree, there are two to choose from: a Psy.D., which stands for Doctor of Psychology, or a Ph.D., which stands for Doctorate of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology.

The main difference between the two is that the Ph.D. program focuses more on research, while the Psy.D. focuses more on clinical training. If you can see yourself doing psychological research at a university, the Ph.D. is the way to go. If you would prefer to work directly with patients, the Psy.D. might be right for you.

In addition, all psychologists must meet certification or licensing requirements (which differ in each state).

What a Psychology Degree Teaches You

What you learn will depend on which degree you pursue (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate) and which psychology field you enter (mental health, substance abuse, developmental). But in general, a psychology degree will help you understand the human mind, gain critical thinking skills, conduct research, and study how people interact.

Featured Careers with Psychology Degree

Questions to Ask About a Psychology Degree
  1. Are you looking for a career that will allow you to help others?
  2. Are you patient, sensitive and compassionate?
  3. Are you able handle hearing about traumatic or stressful situations?
  4. Do you enjoy studying the human mind and how it works?

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm (visited February 24, 2013).