Concentration Areas for Graduate Psychology Programs
Psychology is an extremely broad field. Your undergraduate years may have brought you into contact with some foundational subjects. However, graduate programs in psychology allow you to get more focused, more experienced and research a field that really draws you in.
For instance,do you have a passion for sports? If so, you might choose Sports Psychology Graduate Programs. On the other hand, do you know you would like to work with industry? Then, you might choose an Organizational Psychology Graduate degree program. Forensic Psychology Graduate Programs might be the right fit for someone interested in the criminal justice system, or in working with victims of crime.
Find Your Focus Area
We recommend you spend some time browsing the specialties listed in the menu to determine where your interests lie. The information on each page may also provide insight into the academic path to practicing in that field.
For many prospective students, it may come down to choosing between a clinical psychology graduate program or a counseling psychology grad program. Consider whether you are more of a researcher or aspire to a professional practice. Then check a few options out.
The American Board of Professional Psychology awards specialty certification in 15 areas of psychology, such as clinical health, couple and family, or rehabilitation.iii
What Types of Psychology Degrees Are There?
We gave you a hint up top, but that only skims the surface. In addition to exploring a variety of specialties, graduate psychology schools offer programs at three main levels: the masters, doctorate and graduate certificate. Below is a brief intro to each type of psychology degree to help you narrow down your choices.
Psychology Masters Programs
Psychology masters programs are typically 2 to 3 year programs of study beyond the undergraduate degree. Masters programs in psychology commonly offer either a Master of Arts (M.A.) and the Master of Science (M.S.) degree. While typically they cover similar topics, a MS in Psychology may have a stronger focus on research and science. MA in psychology graduate programs, on the other hand, may take a liberal arts approach.
A Masters Degree in Psychology could prepare students to pursue their doctorate, or certain careers, such as a mental health counselor or organizational psychologist. Thesis and non-thesis options are offered depending on your intentions.
Do you plan to study at the doctorate level? Then, completing a thesis might be a good choice. Do you plan to enter the workforce right away? If so, a non-thesis option might be fine.
Some Psychology masters programs you might encounter include the following.
- MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Master of Arts in Psychology
- General Psychology MS
- Master of Arts in Counseling
- Specialization in Forensic Psychology.
Or, browse all the Psychology Masters Programs offered.
Psychology Doctorate Programs
Aiming higher academically? A Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology is one of the highest-level degrees achievable in the field of psychology. Students might also choose a Psy.D. or Doctor of Psychology degree at this level.
The main difference is that the Ph.D. in Psychology focuses on the scientific model, emphasizing research. In contrast, the Psy.D. in Psychology focuses on the practitioner model and emphasizes clinical practice.
In either case, a psychology doctorate degree might take between four to six years of additional graduate study after earning a bachelors degree. This may depend on enrollment, program requirements and the amount of time it takes to complete a dissertation.
Some of your options might include:
- PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development
- Clinical Psychology Psy.D.
- PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology
Browse the Psychology Doctorate Programs
Graduate Certificates in Psychology
A graduate certificate in psychology is designed to help you develop skills sets and knowledge in a particular area of psychology. They may be available at the masters or post-masters level.
While not a full degree, a certificate may be a great way to gain additional expertise and explore a topic in depth. Certificates are often shorter and may be completed in 1-2 years of full time study. Programs vary.
Some potential certificate programs include:
- Solution Focused Coaching Graduate Certificate
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology
- Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis
Browse the Graduate Certificates in Psychology
Ways to Earn A Graduate Psychology Degree
One of the ways to approach your search for a psychology graduate program is to determine whether you prefer to study on a college campus or in an online format. Some graduate schools for psychology may actually offer a hybrid or blended format, allowing you to take advantage of the potential benefits of both.
You want to consider whether you have time to commute to class. You may also want to think about whether you need to schedule studying at your own pace. Also, you might want to factor in whether you prefer the hands-on and social learning atmosphere, or the independence of a distance-learning format.
Use the on page menu to filter psychology programs by the the format you prefer. Or search by location, if you have always wanted to study in a specific city, state, or country. And remember to look for accredited psychology graduate programs!
Find an Accredited Graduate Psychology Program
Students should ensure they choose an accredited institution, and learn whether, for their career purposes, they need to look into an APA-accredited psychology graduate program. The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits[ii]:
- Doctoral programs in clinical, counseling and school psychology. Pprograms offering combinations of two or more of these areas are also accredited. The primary professional degrees offered are the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and PsyD (Doctor of Psychology).
- Internship programs that are a required component of doctoral training.
- Postdoctoral residency programs that provide professional preparation.
Be aware that the APA does not accredit psychology schools, or programs at the bachelor’s or master’s levels. The U.S. Department of Education should have a list of legitimate psychology masters programs.
And, you should always contact a prospective graduate school directly to discuss requirements, pre-requisites and whether their program might help prepare you for licensure.