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Master’s Degree Programs in General Psychology Overview

Majors Overview January 17, 2016

A graduate degree relating to psychology is a requirement for many jobs in the field. Students in a master’s degree program in general psychology will gain a base knowledge about the study of the mind. Graduates may apply for doctoral programs in psychology or enter career fields in the industry.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in General Psychology

A foundational knowledge in practice and theory is available to students in a master’s degree program in general psychology; they will be prepared for various careers. Students in most master’s programs can complete them within two years.

Coursework covers a wide array of topic areas including personality types, family violence, physiological psychology, and organizational behavior. The program emphasizes research and is devised to impart experience in the lab and the field. A comprehensive exam or a thesis may have to be completed by students; in some programs, they may have to complete both.

In several states, program graduates may qualify for licensure as behavioral or mental health counselors. Some program graduates may seek careers in research. Many may seek continuing education by earning doctoral degrees in psychology.

Master’s Programs in General Psychology

Basic scientific concepts, theories, and research will be understood by students who earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in General Psychology. The programs involve the exploration of emotional and social behavior, in addition to developmental and cognitive psychology. The program encourages the application of students’ learning about theory and analysis of psychology by offering experiences in both data and field research.

Varying by the program, general psychology students can choose to complete a thesis or sit for a comprehensive exam, but in some programs, they may have to comply with both conditions. Such programs may take 1-2 years of full-time study to complete.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year school. Applicants to some programs are expected to have completed prerequisite classes in statistics, introductory and abnormal psychology, and research.


Program coursework covers topic areas encompassing the entire field of psychology. In other courses, students may receive assistance in research, diagnosis, and data collection. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Physiological psychology
•Psychological statistics
•Organizational behavior
•Psychological trauma
•Violence within the family
•Methods of research
•Development of life span
•Personality theories

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek careers in the field including field research, data collection, and theory application. Graduates who are hired by a school or clinic may often have to report to a psychologist with a doctorate. Program graduates may seek possible job positions such as:

•Assistant and consultant to psychology research
•School psychologist
•Postsecondary teacher of psychology

Continuing Education and Licensure Choices

State licensure is compulsory in most states for counselors and psychologists who wish to practice psychology. Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs. They can select an area of interest in keeping with their general psychology background. For instance, the focus of their studies may be in specialties such as counseling, clinical psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology.

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