Students interested in psychology are fortunate enough to have a variety of degrees to choose from. Depending on their level of education, i.e., undergraduate or graduate, they can choose the degree that they are eligible to enroll in. Moreover, the profession they choose will also play a role in the degree they gravitate towards. For instance, for some jobs, a bachelor’s degree will be sufficient. But for others, they may need to complete their master’s qualification.
Below, we describe the four main kinds of degrees in psychology:
This qualification requires that a student complete two years of education. They can achieve that while enrolled in any community college or a university. However, a student should know that they will be limiting their career options with an associate’s degree. That’s because most jobs will mandate a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree – but not all, such as psychology technicians, mental health associates, and aides. An associate can also use their degree as a stepping-stone to the other advanced qualifications, such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
If you are looking at an associate’s degree in psychology, you will have the following options and may choose an Associate’s degree in:
- Science in Psychology
- Arts in Psychology
- Arts in Applied Psychology
Students who have completed their associate’s degree may apply for a bachelor’s degree in the same subject. Its focus is on understanding human behavior, and it teaches course-takers how to help others overcome challenges, such as stress, family issues, depression, abuse, substance abuse, etc. As an enrollee, you will be drawing up plans to help patients deal with those issues and evaluate other existing ones.
Just as with an associate’s degree, you may consider your bachelor’s degree in psychology the next step in earning a master’s or doctorate later on. However, don’t confuse your bachelor’s in this subject with a degree in psychiatry. It is a psychiatrist’s job to monitor their patient’s treatment plans via medication. Psychologists, on the other hand, provide treatment in the form of behavioral intervention.
Based on which institution you attend, your college may either offer a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology. The two may have different names and certain other variations in the topics taught, but they are essentially the same degree.
A master’s degree can be described as a specialization in psychological sciences. For many aspiring psychologists, this qualification is the culmination of their academic pursuits. But it doesn’t have to be your terminal degree, especially if you intend to get into clinical psychology. The latter requires a doctoral degree in addition to your master’s one in psychology.
You may want to consider several factors while deciding whether to enroll in a master’s in a psychology program or not. You may be required to complete anywhere from two to four years of studies to obtain this qualification. Therefore, we’d recommend only highly motivated students to pursue this line of education.
On the positive side of this degree, psychology students can take an alternate, speedier route to an advanced degree. After they have completed undergraduate studies, they could simultaneously enroll in BS and master’s. Thus, they not only increase their chances of earning well, but they also become eligible for a Ph.D. much more quickly!
The master’s level is also where higher studies get considerably more expensive. For a student who is juggling two degree programs at once or has a full-time job and other expenses, working toward a master’s degree in psychology may cost too much. The solution in this situation is to win one of the many psychology scholarships.
With regards to financial aid, we always give two pieces of advice to all students. We ask them to choose a scholarship opportunity specifically aimed by an organization dedicated to their major. Firstly, because the said institutions have a vested interest in encouraging the educational system to produce more psychologists. Therefore, they provide support and other resources to those enrolled in a degree program. Secondly, you will face less competition when trying to win such awards since only psychology students will apply to them.
The psychology field offers a doctorate as the highest graduate degree for students of the subject. But it is also where they can again choose between two options. Some of them decide to opt for a Ph.D., but others want to go with a PsyD. Either choice is suited to unique practice areas and thus vary both in educational scope and training.
Novices, consider yourself warned. Many fields related to psychology and other mental health sciences also offer a diploma with “Doctorate of Psychology” emblazoned across it. Do you want to throw in your lot with the latter group? Then you can choose any of those academic disciplines and still achieve your goal. But if you aim to work in a field actually related to psychology, like counseling, education, social work, or therapy, look for a program offering a Ph.D. in psychology!
Throughout the graduate level in the field of psychology, you will be working towards a specialization. Your Ph.D. won’t be any different. Therefore, be prepared to choose one area to specialize in. Your choice is likely to be one out of the following psychology subjects:
Normally, students who are less interested in spending time associated with academia or doing research choose this branch of doctorate studies.
A Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD) is someone who practices psychology but in any of the many clinical settings. Thus, unlike their Ph.D. counterparts, they are more focused on clinical practice, instead of research. PsyD is ideal for students who don’t have the resources for research or the time to continue down the path leading to a Ph.D.
As evident, studying psychology comes with many options. Students may choose one educational path or any of the several others and still have a shining career. We’d recommend talking to our counselors before making that choice. Knowing the kind of career, you’d want to pursue in the future will allow us to offer insights into the kind of degree you should choose!