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Major Overview: Abnormal Psychology Program

Majors Overview April 4, 2015

Get information about abnormal psychology programs and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Information on Abnormal Psychology Program

The study of emotional and mental disorders that affect moods and behavior is the purview of abnormal psychology. Schools don’t typically offer bachelor’s degree programs in abnormal psychology; however, graduate and undergraduate degree programs in psychology commonly include courses in abnormal psychology. In contrast, students enrolled in some Ph.D. programs are allowed to focus on abnormal psychology.

Psychology programs comprise coursework that highlights topic areas such as assessment techniques, research methods, psychological testing, and neuroscience. Aspiring psychologists are required to gain licensure, in addition to earning a Ph.D. Even those that don’t hold a doctorate may avail counseling and coaching careers.

Bachelor’s Programs in Psychology

Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in psychology are provided with a grasp of the scientific principles and theories of the field; students often have to delve into numerous sub-disciplines, like abnormal psychology. These programs cover facets of psychological study such as memory, sensory perception, and social behavior.

Imparting training to students in the research methods that psychologists apply is a crucial aspect of these programs. Students often achieve progress through development of reasoning skills and performance of basic research projects.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.

Coursework

Coursework begins with general theory and advances to greater focus on research techniques and specializations; core coursework covers subject areas such as:

•Abnormal psychology
•Child psychology
•Developmental psychology
•Experimental psychology
•Social psychology
•Human sexuality

Career Choices

While aspiring psychologists need a doctoral degree, earning a psychology bachelor’s degree can open up many career options, including:

•Psychiatric technician
•Career coach
•Alcohol and drug counselor
•Case manager

Continuing Education Choices

A graduate degree is necessary for students aspiring to advance their careers beyond entry-level career options in the field. In addition to advancement opportunities, they can gain limited potential for some career options, such as industrial-organizational psychology by earning a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is essential for the majority of senior positions in the field; these include independent practice as a psychologist.

Master’s Programs in Psychology

Advanced coursework in abnormal psychology is available through a few master’s degree programs, including a Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Psychology. These are Ph.D. programs aimed at preparing aspiring practicing psychologists and as stand-alone programs aimed at training students to work in counseling.

Students typically take core classes; these focus on diverse aspects of psychology, such as diversity and ethics. Coursework related to the clinical counseling track may include an internship and explore the different available career options. The primary focus of Ph.D. track students is often on advanced psychological practices and theories as well as research techniques.

Education Requirements

While admission requirements for bachelor’s degree programs differ from program to program, general requirements include academic recommendations, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and a bachelor’s degree. A pre-admissions test in a particular psychological subject area is a requirement for admittance to some programs.

Coursework

Coursework usually combines upper-level and core subject areas, including:

•Counseling practices
•Psychological testing
•Psychotherapy
•Psychodiagnostic

Career Choices

Those who complete master’s degree programs often opt for continuing education aiming to become practicing psychologists. Though many career options may be available to students that don’t aspire for doctorate degrees, certification or state licensure may be required for some career choices. Students may choose from career options such as:

•Marriage counselor
•School counselor
•Family counselor

Ph.D. Programs in Psychology

Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs in Psychology are trained to become practicing psychologists, in addition to pursuing careers in research and education. Students often receive training in advanced techniques of treatment, intervention, and assessment.

Multiple concentration areas typically comprise Psychology Ph.D. programs, wherein students primarily study within a chosen career field. Child psychology, clinical psychology, and abnormal psychology are among the concentrations available.

Education Requirements

Incoming students to Psychology Ph.D. programs may have to compete for admittance. Admission criteria often require incoming students to have completed prior coursework in psychology; applicants to many programs need a master’s degree in psychology. Additionally, recommendations, prior work experience, standardized test scores, and grade point average are the benchmarks used to judge applicants.

Coursework

Though coursework can vary according to the chosen concentration area, common courses are devised to train students for advanced careers in psychology through the study of subjects such as:

•Neuroscience
•Ethical issues in psychology
•Research methods in psychology
•Assessment techniques
•Psychopharmacology

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, over 160,200 individuals were employed as psychologists in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth rate of twelve percent has been predicted for these professionals (BLS). Holders of a specialized doctorate from a high-ranked school are expected to enjoy the best opportunities. In May 2012, counseling, clinical, and school psychologists brought in an average annual wage of $69,280.

Continuing Education Choices

Though each state may have its specific requirement, certification or licensure is usually mandatory for psychologists working in group or private practices. Experience and education often limit licensing to an area of specialization. Licensure norms usually include passage of a state-administered exam, completion of a Ph.D. degree, and a combination of professional and internship experience.

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