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Master of Arts (MA) Degree Program in Counseling Psychology Overview

Majors Overview January 5, 2016

This article talks about Master of Arts (M.A.) degree programs in Counseling Psychology and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and licensure choices.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Counseling Psychology

The focus of Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling Psychology programs is often on research methodologies, human development theories, and ethical standards. Counseling psychology professionals have to assist groups and individuals in developing goals or treatment aimed at improving mental health.

Enrollees in most programs learn about clients as individuals, multicultural sensitivity, and personality theories. Students enrolled in some programs are offered the choice of a specialized track, such as adult clinical counseling, family therapy, or adolescent counseling. Students are imparted skills in assessment, interviewing, therapy techniques, consultation, and crisis intervention. Participation in internship experiences is a requirement in most programs. Program graduates can seek careers in counseling, social work, or therapy.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. Completion of some prior psychology coursework is typically a requirement. In some programs, admission criteria may also include the submission by applicants of writing samples, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

Coursework

Program graduates gain expertise in applying psychology principles and theories to real-world situations. Program coursework includes the completion of a counseling psychology practicum. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Psychopathology
•Psychometric testing
•Human development psychology
•Counseling principles
•Career counseling
•Group counseling and dynamics
•Substance abuse treatment

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek counseling jobs in both public and private practices. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Marriage and family therapists
•Rehabilitation counselors
•Mental health counselors
•Addiction and substance abuse counselors
•Marriage and family therapists

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, clinical, counseling and school psychologists are expected to see an at-par-with-the-national-average 11% job growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, these workers brought in an average annual wage of $74,030, with the highest earning 10% banking $112,380 or more.

Continuing Education and Licensure Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education may enroll in a doctoral degree program in an area of psychology. The emphasis of most Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in Counseling Psychology is on research and provision of advanced training and knowledge in psychology while students are allowed to specialize in an area of interest.

Licensure is compulsory in 49 states for counselors working outside of school settings (BLS). Licensure norms vary by specialization, but commonly include clinical experience and a master’s degree.

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