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Information for Individuals who want to pursue the Master of Psychology Degree Program

Higher Education Articles January 6, 2016

This article talks about Master of Psychology degree programs and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Psychology Degree Programs

Foundational education in psychology is continued by many master’s degree programs in the field, even as the program enhances knowledge in psychological research and theory. Scientific methodologies and principles are available to students who examine issues in cognition, behavior, or society. Students in many programs are allowed to tailor their curriculum to a concentration area in psychology. These areas include developmental psychology, psychopathology, marriage and family counseling, clinical psychology, forensic psychology, neuroscience, and abnormal psychology.

Scholastic opportunities are provided to enable students to develop skills in reading psychological research, critical thinking, and using the American Psychological Association (APA) citation style while writing. Participation by students in supervised practicum hours or fieldwork is a common requirement, in addition to the conduct of research for a thesis assignment. Either a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is available through these programs that students complete in about two years. Enrollees in a master’s degree program are not typically ready for licensure as psychologists; however, program graduates interested in continuing education may enroll in a doctoral program.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. While the major does not have to be psychology, applicants are typically expected to have foundational knowledge and to have completed prior coursework in statistics and psychology. Submission of Graduate Record Examination scores by incoming students is an expectation in most programs.


In many programs, development of skills in problem-solving and research is augmented by coursework covering general psychology, in addition to principles and assessment. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Abnormal behavior
•Social behavior
•Personality theories
•Learning principles
•Motivation theories
•Behavior modification
•Cognition and memory

Career Choices

A master’s degree in psychology will not help a graduate automatically qualify for licensure as a professional psychologist. Graduates may seek careers in educational, clinical and industrial areas. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Industrial-organizational psychologist
•Mental health worker
•Behavior specialist

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, counseling and clinical psychologists brought in an average annual wage of $72,220. Industrial-organizational psychologists earned $98,800 per annum, on average during the same time-period (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Psychologists overall are expected to see a 19% job growth over the 2012 – 2022 decade (BLS); the best prospects are likely to be enjoyed by doctoral degree holders.

Continuing Education Choices

Doctoral work in an area of psychology may be available to program graduates seeking continuing education; this could be either a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology. Written dissertations and internships are usually requirements in both Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs. The focus of a Ph.D. program in Psychology is usually on research in the field, and the focus of a Psy.D. is on training candidates to work in clinical settings.

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