Masters in Psychology

What Do You Learn in a Masters in Psychology?

Those completing a master’s in psychology may obtain the skills necessary to work in various positions. This type of program may provide education in biopsychology, cognitive and development, social and applied psychology, among other topics. Students also typically study ethical standards in evaluations and the treatment process. At the core, the work they do in school is often learning how to scientifically interpret and use data and assessment information to format treatment plans. Some may also gain skills that help improve research in the field.

The coursework may be based on the type of outcome the student hopes to achieve, such as which type of program focus they wish to take or where they wish to work. Most often, coursework focuses on cognitive processes, social psychology, and therapies of personality, among other areas.

Take a closer look at some of the areas of study a student taking a master’s in psychology may take.

Masters in Psychology Programs

Top 25 Schools Graduating Students with a Masters in Psychology

The following are the top 25 schools in the U.S. based on graduating student numbers for the 2019-2020 school year according to NCES.

College / UniversityGraduatesAcceptance Rate
Southern New Hampshire University$51788%
Ashford University$376N/A
Walden University$246N/A
Pepperdine University$11232%
Northcentral University$96N/A
Capella University$94N/A
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles$8513%
American Public University System$76N/A
Arizona State University Digital Immersion$7264%
George Mason University$7287%
Kean University$6769%
Utah State University$6791%
Florida International University$6158%
National University$6089%
Towson University$5676%
Rutgers University-New Brunswick$4861%
The New School$4857%
University of Pennsylvania$488%
Florida State University$4636%
CUNY Graduate School and University Center$44N/A
San Francisco State University$4467%
Harvard University$435%
William James College$43N/A
Ponce Health Sciences University-East$3943%
Divine Mercy University$37N/A

Courses May Include

1st course Research Methods

Research Methods

This course often covers various and common methods used in psychological research. Students may learn to gather and analyze data. Students usually acquire techniques and apply them to issues in psychology.

2nd course Social Psychology

Social Psychology

This course often focuses on current and contemporary issues in psychology. Research of people’s interactions with the environment and technology is typically covered. Theories regarding the conformity, obedience, identity, and attitudes may be covered as well. Evaluations of the usefulness and relevance of social psychology may also be another topic in the course.

3rd Course Cognitive Processes

Cognitive Processes

In this course, students may investigate different topics relating to memory, language, and decision making and how it relates to cognitive psychology. The usefulness and relevance of cognitive psychology may also be covered as a part of this course. How to use cognitive psychology when dealing with real world problems may also be a topic.

4th Course Measurement and Assessment

Measurement and Assessment

The use of and application of psychometric techniques is often a major portion of this course. Studying techniques of measurement and strategies used in administering psychological tests. Ethical issues and how they apply to testing, assessing, and interpreting these tests.

5th Course Theories of Personality

Theories of Personality

This course often covers, research, theories, and various approaches in regards to personal psychology. The use of Freud and other historical practices are typically analyzed and used. Looking at how the past and present types of analysis and theories work together to determine the course of where the field is going.

6th Course Ethical Practice in Psychology

Ethical Practice in Psychology

This course often covers the ethics of psychology. Topics may include respect, experimentation, and resolving ethical dilemmas. Professional conduct standards and psychology ethical behavior may also be topics to be covered.

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6 Most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a Masters in Psychology

Many people complete their master’s degree in this field to gain more insights and skills into the field, which may allow them to qualify for other jobs. Some employers may require a master’s degree before they hire applicants in the field.

People who earn a master’s in psychology may have the skills necessary to work in a range of jobs. This may include working as a forensic psychology, personal administrator, or public relations officer. There are often jobs in psychology in many industries, including advertising, prison, rehabilitation treatment centers, mental health treatment centers, and government offices. Some may also work as a psychiatric assistant.

A master’s degree in psychology could be a challenging educational path. For those who are interested in completing this education, it may be a daunting but rewarding experience. The coursework is typically more challenging than a bachelor’s degree.

As one of the most common majors in the United States, finding a master’s program in psychology may not be as challenging as many people think. However, each program may have different prerequisites requirements as well as admissions requirements to meet. This may include GPA requirements, completion of a bachelor’s degree, and internship or work experience.

A Master of Arts in Psychology is often focused on arts and humanities aspects of the field. A Master of Science in Psychology (MSc) is often more focused on research and the sciences. Either one may be a good option depending on the desired outcome.

Most of the time, a master’s degree in psychology takes 2 to 4 years to complete. It may be possible to take accelerated courses that allow for the completion in 18 months.

Find Funding

The cost of earning a degree like this depends on many factors including the current rates charged by the school. However, many students may utilize one or more funding options to cover those costs. NCES reports that the average college student in the 2020 to 2021 school year spent $19,749 on their master’s degree program. Costs differ by school, location, program options, courses taken, and other factors.

Paying for this type of education may be possible by using a number of different funding sources. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. Many students may choose to look into each of these options to exhaust all possibilities to meet their needs.


One way to cover the cost of a master’s degree in psychology is to apply for and win scholarships. These are funds given to students without the requirement to repay them. Available scholarships for psychology majors may be available from multiple organizations, including schools, local programs, and national organizations. Consider any of them.

Kelsey P. Dresser Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: USC Rossier offers a $15,000 Kelsey P. Dresser Memorial Scholarship to a promising first year Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) student. Applicants must be graduate students who attend University of Southern California (USC).

Amount: $15,000

Deadline: March 31

IHS Health Professions Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available for American Indian and Alaskan Native undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a full- or part-time study program leading to a degree in a health-related profession for one of the health career priority categories as determined by Indian Health Services. Students must have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher. Applicants must be an undergraduate or graduate student at the time of application.

Amount: $192,016

Deadline: March 28

The Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation Scholars Grant

Who Can Apply: This award is available for residents of Maryland who are pursuing a graduate degree in social work or a mental health field. Preference will be given to students who speak Spanish or another second language. Find the full requirements for this scholarship here.

Amount: $5,000

Deadline: April 1

Teens Path to Success Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who are majoring in majoring in counseling, psychology, sociology, social work, or another related field leading to a career in counseling, psychology, or therapy. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Amount: $2,750

Deadline: April 30

Is a marriage therapist a good career?

One career choice that may be available to those with a master’s in psychology is a marriage and family therapist. These professionals may diagnose and treat the emotional and mental health needs of people within a marriage or family unit. They may provide services to individuals or couples. This may include diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.

To do this type of job, a person must have core skills, including active listening skills, social perceptiveness, and problem solving. They may also need to be able to communicate well to provide individuals with information and instructions on managing their conditions. Often times, they may also need to have good judgment and decision-making skills to ensure the best or most appropriate treatment is applied in that situation.

Work activities as a marriage therapist may include documenting and recording information including gathering data from conversations and sessions. They may also have to analyze information and evaluate results to develop a way to solve a problem. Many times, they may assist in caring for others including enabling people to get help for emotional support, personal care needs, and medical attention. They may establish and work to maintain relationships with clients to create better outcomes.

Those working as a marriage therapist typically need to have extensive skills and knowledge in the area. This typically requires a master’s degree, though some may also require Ph.D. work, based on what the employer desires. Limited on the job training may be provided in that many occupations could require an employee to already have the necessary knowledge and skill to complete the necessary tasks. Some positions may require experience in the field or previous training as well.

Masters in Psychology , Skills needed for Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness – Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking – Talking to others to convey information effectively.

2022 Median Salary for Marriage Therapist

The annual median salary for those working as a marriage therapist in 2022 was the following in each state based on BLS data.

State2022 Median Annual SalaryState2022 Median Annual Salary
New Jersey$83,590Missouri$63,410
New York$55,430Nebraska$53,990
North Dakota$58,050New Hampshire$56,630
Oklahoma$52,570New Mexico$59,850
Pennsylvania$57,570North Carolina$51,750
South CarolinaN/AOhio$54,810
Utah$88,980Rhode IslandN/A
Virginia$52,260South Dakota$47,580
West VirginiaN/AWyomingN/A

Is a behavioral counselor a good career?

A behavioral counselor is a professional that offers counsel and advice to people who are facing one or more conditions such as eating disorders, gambling disorders, drug or alcohol use, or other types of conditions. They may work with individuals, families, or groups to provide these services. Some may also provide prevention-based care.

The work of a behavioral counselor often includes completing and maintaining accurate client histories and records including all services provided. They may counsel people on overcoming dependencies as well as making changes to their habits or lifestyle. Many may assess those with drug dependency and provide support in the addiction recovery process. They may treat payments in facilities and offices and may following patients for some time after providing treatments as needed. They may work as a part of a chemical dependency program.

To do their job, these professionals typically need to be good, active listeners, have good speaking and communication skills, and have an understanding of critical thinking and social perceptiveness.

Work activities may include writing reports and evaluations, counseling clients one-on-one or in groups, providing substance abuse treatment, and monitoring clients for progress. They may also administer drug screenings and tests.

Those who wish to work as a behavioral counselor typically need to have completed graduate school, which may include a master’s degree, though some employers prefer a Ph.D. Extensive skill and experience are noted as valuable to have here. That may include having 5 or more years in the field. Employers may provide some on-the-job training, but many may require individuals to have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the work. This may come from other training programs, other positions, or work-related experience.

Masters in Psychology , Skills for Behavioral Counselors
  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking – Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

2022 Median Salary for Behavioral Counselor

The 2022 median annual salary for those working as a behavioral counselor in the U.S. is the following based on location and BLS data.

State2022 Median Annual SalaryState2022 Median Annual Salary
New Jersey$65,090Missouri$47,200
New York$60,320Nebraska$54,200
North Dakota$60,710New Hampshire$50,860
Oklahoma$57,180New Mexico$62,610
Pennsylvania$51,650North Carolina$55,530
South Carolina$46,760Ohio$53,310
Utah$65,180Rhode Island$53,830
Virginia$56,350South Dakota$48,160

Sandy Baker


Sandy has extensive experience writing educational articles for topics ranging from online education to college degrees. She’s worked with several Ivy League colleges to create blogs, newsletters, sales material for recruiting as well as “how to manage” college lifestyle pieces. Additionally, she’s written for well-respected study abroad programs helping students to find international opportunities spanning the globe from South America to Africa and Asia.

Sandy’s experience also includes writing about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarship searches, and managing college loans and grants. This includes aiding both students and parents in managing the application and financial aid process from start to finish. Her writing in this area has been featured in The New York Times, Cleveland Magazine, and several blogs.

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