Psychology Masters Graduate Programs
Master's degree programs in psychology train students to diagnose, treat and prevent mental health disorders. Most psychology master's degree programs prepare students to think critically and analytically rather than train them for a specific job or position. Graduates are prepared to work in many industries from elementary, middle and high schools to mental health outpatient facilities and high-risk youth centers or at a private practice.
When identifying which psychology master’s program you’d like to attend, the American Psychological Association (APA) recommends asking yourself the following questions:
- What would your fellow students be like? What students does the program typically admit, in terms of test scores and academic background? Are they highly competitive or do they take a more balanced approach to academics?
- What percentage of admitted students graduate and how long does it take to reach graduation?
- What are the goals of the program? Do the objectives match your career goals and your capabilities as a graduate student?
- If you are interested in an academic or research career, you may want to look at the level graduates have for obtaining postdoctoral research fellowships, academic appointments, or applied research positions in an outside facility within the first five years after graduation.
- If you’d prefer a psychology graduate program that emphasizes professional practice, you will want to find out the rate of graduate licensure, as well as where they practice post-graduation.
Depending upon the program that you choose, you may need to have an undergraduate degree in psychology. Some programs require a GRE or MAT while some may not. However, admission into any psychology graduate program may be difficult, as the number of applicants usually exceeds the number of open seats in a semester.
Psychology Master's Degree Program Curriculum
Earning a master’s degree in psychology typically takes two to three years to complete. To earn a doctorate in psychology, add on another three to four years. It’s important to note that the APA does not accredit master’s degree programs in psychology, only doctoral-level psychology programs and the institutions offering those programs.
If you’re interested in earning a doctoral degree in psychology, you will have to choose between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D. The Ph.D. is the oldest and most widely regarded of the doctoral level degrees and is generally considered a research degree. Students in a Ph.D. program can generally expect to enter a research or academic-based professional field, possibly with a hospital or drug company.
First awarded in the late 1970’s, the Psy.D. has been increasing in popularity among universities and graduate students alike. Similar to the M.D. awarded to doctors, a Psy.D. signifies that the student has placed an emphasis on preparing for professional practice rather than extensive research training. According to the APA, about 75 percent of graduate students in psychology earn their Ph.D.
Psychology Career Paths
Once you have earned your graduate degree in psychology, you may find potential career opportunities in many industries including elementary, middle and high schools, mental health outpatient facilities, hospitals, colleges and universities, high-risk youth centers, or at a private practice.
Psychology Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs for psychologists are expected to increase by 12 percent between 2012 and 2022 . Those holding doctoral degrees will be at a significant advantage, while those with master’s degrees can expect competition in the job market.
Based on 2012 salary data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for psychologists was $69,280 in May of 2012. Pay levels vary with the industry of employment and the number of years a psychologist has been practicing. The graph below provides 2012 median salary information for different types of psychology professionals.