Psychology Degrees

Psychology is all about studying the relationship between the brain and our behavior. As this is such an in-depth topic, psychologists have to study for years, learning all of the techniques and specializations of this expansive area of expertise. 

There are also many different psychology fields such as clinical psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, school psychology, and other kinds of practitioners. Depending on the type of psychology role, the entry requirements and qualifications may differ. 

If you want to become a psychologist, then there is a lot of education and training that you need to undergo in order to qualify and be a licensed psychologist. So, let’s take a look at some of the psychology degrees available.

Psychology degrees are offered at the best universities. Both undergraduate and postgraduate courses train students for psychology or psychology-related careers. These degrees are also available in online universities, and there are many students who prefer to earn their degree from a psychology school. No matter where you plan on pursuing your degree, below you’ll find important information to help you make an informed decision regarding your psychology education and career path.

What Can You Do with a Psychology Degree?

A major in psychology can lead to many different careers. In addition to the traditional route of providing therapy, you will be able to follow many career paths that apply knowledge of the mind and theories regarding behavior. With a psychology degree, you can conduct research, work for government facilities or in administration, or provide counseling or psychotherapy in a number of different settings.

What are the Different Types of Degrees in Psychology?

There are several different degree types in the field of psychology.

  • Associate’s Degree in Psychology
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
  • Master’s Degree in Psychology
  • Doctorate Degree/PHD in Psychology

An Associate’s Degree in Psychology will often be considered the starting point for those wanting to learn more about psychology. This course is often the most affordable way to start your career in psychology, and will provide you with an introduction or general course about psychology. 

The next level is the Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. A Bachelor’s Degree will typically take around 4 years to finish, and this level of study can help you understand psychology more in depth, and with classes about certain specialities such as substance abuse or child psychology. 

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is is completed through undergraduate education and is required prior to pursuing other degrees in psychology.

Then, you have the Master’s Degree in Psychology. This is another step up from the Bachelor’s Degree and will take around 2 years to complete. With this degree, you will have more hands-on experience with internships, and you can choose a speciality or sector of psychology in which you want to work, or one that you are very interested in. 

A Master of Science (MS) focuses on one or two specific areas of psychology for those with the ultimate goal of practicing counseling or clinical psychology. A Master of Arts (MA) also focuses on a narrowed subset of the field but is intended for those interested in industrial or research psychology.

Finally, there’s a Doctorate Degree, or a PHD in Psychology. This is a long-term degree that can take up to 8 years to finish, which requires extensive research and study into the world of psychology. Students completing this degree will also have to conduct their own research in the form of a dissertation, however a PHD is considered the highest of qualifications, and one of the most impressive, which makes job prospects much simpler. 

Doctorates are the terminal degrees in the field of psychology. Similar to the master’s degrees, the different doctoral degrees are intended for different career paths within the field. The traditional Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is ideal if you are considering teaching or conducting research. A Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) allows you to practice clinically through counseling or psychotherapy. If your focus is on working in schools or hospitals, a Doctor of Education (EdD) in psychology will provide you with the most relevant skills. If school psychology is your particular interest, an Education Specialist (EdS) degree will allow you to practice in this field.

So, let’s take a look at the psychology degrees on offer in more detail, to see which you would be interested in.

Psychology Bachelor’s Degree – Everything you need to know

A bachelor’s degree in psychology is an undergraduate level degree that usually takes around four years to complete. At most universities, you will be able to choose a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS). 

A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology is an excellent starting point to jumpstart your career in psychology. With a bachelor’s degree, you will be able to spend a few years getting to know your field of work, gaining insight and understanding into how the human mind works and why we behave the way we do. This can help you learn about the world of psychology,  and understand the field in a wide focus. What this means is that no speciality areas of psychology are zoned in on, and you will receive more of a well rounded education on psychology rather than a specific field. 

Depending on whether you choose a Bachelor Of Arts or a Bachelor Of Science, you may receive a different education. For instance, in a Bachelor of Science in psychology degree, you will have a more scientific or technical approach where the course may refer to the more clinical applications of the degree such as cognitive psychology and neuroscience. 

On the other hand, a Bachelor of Arts in psychology will be more about the aspects of the mind and how it works with children, the elderly and other populations. This will give you a more open idea of psychology, so that you are open to more career paths. 

A Bachelor’s degree can get you started on your career path in psychology, and will be the perfect stepping stone towards a Master’s or a Doctorate degree in psychology in the future. 

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for bachelor’s degrees depend on how demanding the degree is and how prestigious the university is. However, for the most part, you may require a high school diploma, with one, two or more A graduation grades. The grade requirements may also differ from university to university. Typically speaking, you will need: 

  • A high school diploma or equivalent qualifications
  • At least three high graduation grades
  • Relevant qualifications or work experience if no diploma

Most bachelor’s degrees are the first step in a psychology degree, and do not require extensive experience or difficult entry requirements. 

How Long Does It Take To Study?

If studying full time, you are able to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology within four to five years.

How Much Does a Bachelor’s in Psychology Make?

The average pay for someone with a bachelor’s in psychology is around $47,000 a year. Salaries vary based on the specific field and geographical area they are employed in and range from about $20,000 to nearly $100,000 annually.

Is Psychology a BA or BS?

In the field of psychology, either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is awarded upon completion of an undergraduate program. A BA is geared toward those interested in research and teaching, while a BS is the intended degree for those who want to practice clinically.

What Does a BA in Psychology Mean?

A BA, or Bachelor of Arts, in psychology refers to the degree that is awarded at the culmination of an undergraduate program of study in the subject. This degree allows students to go on to pursue further education, research opportunities, or a career in the field of psychology.

What Can I Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

Nearly all fields of psychology require an advanced degree to practice in the field. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you can pursue an advanced degree, participate in research, or enter into an internship.

Psychology Masters Degree – Everything you need to know

A Master’s degree in Psychology is the next step up from the Bachelor’s degree. As a result, a master’s will open up a whole new world of possibilities and career opportunities for you, and will delve more deeply into the field of psychology.

See also: Master’s in psychology jobs

This type of degree generally takes about 2-3 years to complete, and you can either choose to study a Master of Arts degree in psychology, or a Master of Science in psychology. With a master of science degree, you will take a closer look into the research and science behind psychological matters, whereas a master of arts in psychology will be a more liberal and theoretical approach to psychology. 

Most master’s programs are designed to give you the chance to dive into specific areas of psychology, so you may find Master’s degree programs such as M.A. or M.S in Social Psychology, or Child Development, or Forensic Psychology. This can give you a chance to hone in on your particular area of interest, and decide upon a course of study that will give you all of the tools you need to be qualified and successful in specific areas of psychology. 

With a master’s degree, you can open the door to entry level positions in fields regarding mental health, colleges, universities, private business, industrial organizational psychology, forensic psychology and so much more. 

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements to study a psychology master’s degree will vary depending on the university or the program. However, for the most part, you will need a bachelor’s degree in psychology in order to qualify for the program. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree in psychology is not required, however you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in a similar field of interest, or the relevant and equivalent experience to enter into the program. 

How Long Does It Take To Study for a master’s degree in Psychology?

For most students, a master’s degree in Psychology can take anywhere from two to three years to finish.

Career Path with a master’s degree in psychology

A master’s degree in psychology will really broaden your horizons when it comes to jobs in the field of psychology. Which career paths you take will depend on which specialty area of psychology you study in university or what your interests are.

With a master’s degree in psychology, you may choose to become a social worker, a family services worker, a human resource manager, market researcher, a behavioral counselor, a psychiatric technician, rehabilitation speciality, child protection worker, a psychiatrist, a therapist, clinical psychologist, psychology lecturer, or a counselling psychologist. 

Earning Potential with a master’s degree in psychology

The earning potential can vary depending on your location, which area of psychology you go into and what your role is. However, the majority of those with master’s degrees in psychology can achieve salaries ranging from $38,500 to $82,000. However, the top earners with a masters degree in psychology can earn up to $113,000 per year.

PHD in Psychology – everything you need to know

If you are interested in furthering your education and studies in psychology, then a PHD or doctorate degree in Psychology may be for you. In addition, a PHD can open up a lot of job opportunities, and better job prospects in specialized areas of psychology. 

As part of your doctorate degree, you will be expected to conduct your own research and studies in the form of a dissertation, whilst also being part of internships and gaining on the job training and work experience. 

The PHD in psychology is the highest level of graduate degree in the field that you can acquire. As a result, there are lots of career options to choose from, including research roles, and mental health professional roles. 

When it comes to doing a PHD or doctorate in psychology, you will need to know which area of psychology you want to work within, as many programs are divided between Clinical Psychology and Counseling Psychology.  You can also gain your PHD if you wish to work as a University or college professor, or as a research psychologist. 

However, you should bear in mind that a doctorate or PHD in psychology will be the most detailed, challenging and in depth program, with classes relating to Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, the Foundations Of Cognition, along with Psycholinguistics, Behavioral Mechanisms, and studies into language and development. You will also be expected to have a great interest in researching methods, treatments and the nature of the human mind. 

A PHD in Psychology will be incredibly challenging, but it is a highly esteemed and rewarding qualification. 

Entry Requirements

The minimum requirements to study a PHD or doctorate degree in psychology will vary from institution to institution. That being said, generally speaking, a PHD will require at least a Master’s degree in psychology or a relevant field, along with transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended. You may also have to pass qualifying examinations or tests to enter a PHD program. 

How Long Does It Take To Study?

For the majority of students, a PHD or doctorate in Psychology may take anywhere from four to seven years to finish, which will include a research dissertation and most likely residency or an internship in clinical or medical environments. 

Career Path

With a PHD in psychology, you have a whole host of options when it comes to your career. With this kind of degree, you can work in specialty areas of psychology, depending on your studies and particular interests, or you can work as a researcher, an educational consultant, a forensic psychologist, political strategist, staff psychologist, private psychologist, professor of psychology, psychiatrist, or a clinical psychologist.

Earning Potential 

The earning potential for psychologists with doctoral degrees or PHDs can vary greatly depending on the specific specialty of psychology in which they work. General psychologists may earn around $90,000 a year, with the average salary around $84,000 per year. 

On the other hand, clinical, counseling and school psychologists with PHDs tend to earn around $81,000 per year. The highest paying psychology careers can average up to $167,000, so studying a PHD in psychology will be worth it in the long run when it comes to career prospects.

FAQs about Psychology Degrees

Is a Psychology Degree Worth It?

A degree in psychology leads to many successful careers. The field has many specialized areas of practice, including research, school psychology, health administration, and even corporate settings developing, for example, employee training. Careers in psychology allow you to help others directly, engage in research that leads to a greater understanding of human cognition and behavior, and employ problem-solving skills.

What Major is Required to Become a Psychologist?

To become a psychologist, students are required to complete a major in the field of psychology. The coursework typically includes courses in general psychology, experimental psychology, and more specialized areas such as developmental or abnormal psychology.

What is the Highest Degree for Psychology?

A doctoral degree is the highest awarded in the field of psychology. Doctorates in psychology include the degrees of Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and Education Specialist (EdS). Each degree is intended to lead to different career paths in the field of psychology.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Psychology Degree?

A psychology degree allows you to pursue many different careers. If you are interested in clinical psychology, you can work as a school psychologist, counsel in private practice, or provide therapy in a hospital setting. With a degree in psychology you can also conduct research, teach in universities, or work in government agencies.

Can I Major in Psychology and Become a Doctor?

A major in the field of psychology can allow you to become a medical doctor. Upon obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you can enter a medical doctor (MD) program to become a Doctor of Psychiatry. An advanced doctoral degree in other areas of psychology will allow you to obtain the title of doctor and to practice in hospitals or other clinical settings, but you will be unable to prescribe medication.

If you look at the data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an increase in competition for entrance to graduate psychology courses. It is possible that many students are interested in the lucrative careers that having psychology degrees can get them.

How Much Money Does a Psychologist Make?

Generally, psychologists make a good living. How much psychologists make will vary depending on the specific field and the geographic area they practice in. Jobs requiring more advanced degrees will also pay more. A psychiatrist, which requires an MD, is the highest paying field of psychology, earning around $216,000 annually.

Experience

Entry-level (0-5 yrs.)

Mid-career (5-10 yrs.)

Experienced (10-20 yrs.)

Late-career (20+ yrs.)

Average

Clinical psychologist

$69,000

$78,000

90,000

$94,000

$76,000

Forensic psychologist

$61,000

$73,000

$83,000

$118,000

$64,000

School psychologist

$54,000

$60,000

$66,000

$72,000

$60,000

Industrial psychologist

$61,000

$94,000

$112,000

$131,000

$72,000

Median Salary by Years of Experience and Specialty Area. Source: PayScale

On average for all degree levels, a psychologist makes about $77,000. It is important to adjust for cost of living in an area when assessing the salary to determine how good the pay is. For example, a psychology position in Los Angeles with a salary of $100,000 comes with a high cost of living. A similar job in Charlotte, North Carolina may pay slightly less, but the lower cost of living makes it an excellent salary.

Careers requiring a degree in psychology can be found in both the public and private sectors, ranging in positions from mental health counselors at nonprofits to private university professors. The expertise gleaned from studying psychology can lead to stimulating, meaningful careers.