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Master’s Degree Program in Applied Psychology Overview

Majors Overview January 12, 2016

Community psychology, counseling, and health psychology are all in the broad field of applied psychology. Those with an interest in helping others solve issues and learning about human behavior should look into master’s degree programs in applied psychology.

Information on Master’s Degree Program in Applied Psychology

A broad range of studies are in a master’s degree program in applied psychology where students learn about using the principles of psychology in resolving practical problems in healthcare, business, and other settings. Students usually need 1-2 years to complete the program.

Master’s Programs in Applied Psychology

The focus of applied psychology master’s degree program is usually on using psychological principles in resolving practical problems in various settings. Areas of focus cover community psychology, evaluation research, health psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and counseling psychology. Schools may award Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees. The concentration area notwithstanding, completion of independent research and writing of theses are usually requirements.

Industrial and organizational psychology students can find employment in associations and businesses that seek help in improving human resources management and increasing productivity. Program graduates may become adept at creating program agendas and further developing organizations.

Alternatively, those who focus more on counseling or health psychology may gain more knowledge on human health, including the physical, social, and emotional aspects. Additionally, they will learn treatment and diagnostic techniques. They aim to prevent disease and promote health, along with improve the healthcare system. Students in counseling psychology may concentrate on various topics in the field, including mental health, career counseling, substance abuse counseling, multicultural counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. In the majority of cases, schools prefer psychology majors, but may also consider individuals who possess substantial psychology credentials, in addition to degrees in related fields. Meeting of minimum GPA requirements, submission of GRE scores, and personal letters of interest may also be among admission requirements.


Students can tailor coursework in accordance with their concentrations. Typically, research methods, social psychology theories, and applied techniques are included among required classes. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Behavioral assessment techniques
•Behavioral science statistics
•Group counseling theories
•Developmental psychology
•Personality theory
•Human relations
•Ethical and legal issues in applied psychology
•Motivation and leadership
•Family therapy

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, counselors, in general, are expected to see an eight percent job growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2010, marriage and family therapists brought in an average annual wage of $51,730. Mental health counselors earned $43,990, rehabilitation counselors made $37,890, and substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors banked $41,870 (BLS).

Industrial and organizational psychologists are expected to see a 26% job growth over the 2008 – 2018 decade; they brought in an average annual wage of $90,070 during May 2014(BLS).

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

Additional certification and licensure are compulsory for those who wish to practice in professions that involve direct patient care, including counseling; certification and licensure requirements can vary by states. Passage of an exam and a certain amount of prior work experience are common requirements. Voluntary certification may also be attained by psychologists in areas such as family psychology and rehabilitation.

Program graduates who seek continuing education may enroll in graduate certificate programs in professional counseling. They may also pursue Ph.D. programs in Applied Psychology. Doctoral students are expected to contribute to the field through the conduct of original research and write dissertations before they graduate. Ph.D. holders may seek additional career choices in practice and academia.

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