Choosing a Psychology School, College, and Degree Program

Where Are You in Your Educational Path?

Pursuing a career in psychology can be challenging, and rightfully so, due to the high amount of responsibility and trust we place with individuals who care for our mental and physical health.  For those who reach their goal of becoming a psychologist, there are real advantages and rewards to enjoy.  For one, in 2010, psychologists earned a median salary of $68,640, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, research shows that psychology jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than average for all other occupations.

When you make the decision to pursue a career in psychology, you are committing yourself to several years of schooling, internships, and exams at every level to achieve your goal.  Unlike industries such as financial services and marketing, where employees may come from any kind of educational background, a career in psychology requires specialization in a chosen field, and a focused curriculum throughout your time in school. That said, there are a few different degree paths an aspiring psychologist may choose from in order to acquire those skills. Individuals with no post-secondary (college) credits, will begin by entering a associate's degree program in psychology (A.A), or a bachelor degree program (B.S) in psychology.  These programs will provide individuals with the prerequisite education they need to enter the field of psychology at an introductory level, and provide them with the academic foundation needed to ascend to more advanced levels within the field. After completing a bachelor degree program, the most common path is to earn a master’s degree in psychology (M.S), and to work in real-world situations under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.  Completion of a master's degree will allow individuals to continue work in the field of psychology, albeit under the supervision of someone with more experience and training.  All individuals who hope to work independently in the field as a licensed psychologist are required to earn a doctorate level degree (PhD) in psychology.  Completion of a doctorate level degree is mandatory in all states to earn the designation "psychologist", and is the highest level of academic achievement in the field.

Getting started along the right educational path is important and can be challenging for anyone without the proper resources and guidance. Read below for detailed information about each degree path, and navigate through our site to learn more about the education options available to you. We also provide information on a wide array of careers,  so you can start by identifying the career you would like to pursue, and then research the education you will need to achieve your goals.  The point of this is to help you make an informed decision, so that you can get your psychology career underway as quickly as possible.

Earning Your Associate Degree in Psychology

In the past 15 years, associate’s degrees have become an increasingly common education option for students hoping to improve their job prospects. Remarkably, no associate’s degree in any subject has seen a larger rise in popularity than Psychology. According to the National Study for Education Statistics, 1,600 associate’s degrees in Psychology were awarded in 1998-99. By 2008-09, 3,900 associate’s degrees in Psychology were awarded to students, which represents a 143 percent increase in just 10 years. What this shows is that not only are associate’s degrees on the rise, but the subject of Psychology is also increasing in  popularity .  Like with any subject, an associate’s degree in Psychology is most commonly offered at local community colleges because it usually only requires two years of coursework to complete. On its own, an associate’s degree in psychology serves as a stepping stone to a higher education. Most students earn their associate’s degree and then use it to apply to a four-year university and pursue their bachelor’s degree in the subject.

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If you can only earn an associate’s degree for whatever reason, there are still options available to you. For starters, the U.S. Government offers low entry requirements for entry-level psychology careers that may be ideal for someone with an associate’s degree.  Low entry requirements also means a larger pool of applicants, so expect to encounter stiff competition for these positions.  Also, time spent learning the basic principles of psychology will provide students with critical thinking and organizational skills that will make them more appealing for entry-level positions in potentially any industry. There are a large number of jobs where these skills are valued, such as a counseling assistant, psychologist assistant or nursing home aide, in addition to positions in a customer service, human resources, or marketing role.

Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

By now you have probably heard at least a few disparaging remarks about what sort of career options you are presented with when you earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Many believe the degree has few practical applications in the real world, but those people don’t know the whole story. Considered the No. 2 college major by The Princeton Review, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology is very popular and opens doors to a number of different career paths, both in and outside of the field. In 2008, 5.1 percent of incoming freshmen chose Psychology as their major, according to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s Freshman Survey, and in that same year, the NCES reported that 92,587 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. That popularity means that almost every major institution in the country has a Psychology program taught by experienced and talented instructors.

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If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree we suggest learning more about the colleges in your area.   Below we list some of the more popular online and campus schools in the U.S. for psychology.  The links will provide you with forms where you can request information directly from schools, who can answer questions regarding  tuition, coursework, financial aid and enrollment dates:

The Bachelor degree requires four years to complete, and students can usually choose between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in the subject depending on which type of psychology they specialized in. Some who earn the degree decide to pursue careers in other fields thanks to the field’s relatively modest entry-level salary, but for those who stick it out, the decision can be quite rewarding. Chances are, if you majored in Psychology, you had some idea that you wanted to use what you learned to work with and help people, so you are in luck. Social worker, psychiatric technician, market researcher, rehabilitation specialist, career counselor, and case managers are just some of the popular positions that are perfect for entry-level psychologists with a freshly-earned degree. Not only do these positions offer the chance to work with and help people in need, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that these positions also offer competitive salaries that offer recent graduates financial security to start their career.

Earning Your Master’s Degree in Psychology

If you have made it to the point where you are considering a master’s degree in Psychology, then you are very serious about becoming trained and licensed as a professional. These programs aren’t for individuals who have a casual interest in psychology. Psychology graduate programs are very competitive and are a prerequisite,  if you intend to become a school psychologist, behavioral counselor, child protection worker, drug specialist, or social services manager.

After you earn your bachelor’s degree, you can expect to spend another two or three years at school before you can earn your Master’s degree and like Bachelor’s degrees, you can choose between a Master of Arts or Master of Sciences. If you are interested in psychology but decided to major in something else as an undergraduate not all is lost. Most Master’s degree programs do not require the specific undergraduate major in psychology, but they will expected to see some completed introductory coursework in crucial subjects like experimental psychology and statistics.

The most commonly studied types of psychology for Master’s degrees are clinical psychology, counseling psychology and industrial/organizational psychology. This is the level where there will really be a large focus on research, research methods, and statistics.

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If you are interested in pursuing a master's degree we suggest learning more about the colleges in your area.   Below we list some of the more popular online and campus schools in the U.S. for Psychology.   While many master's programs can be highly competitive, online colleges may be easier to get into, provide a more flexible learning environment, and offer you curriculum that is very similar to that of a traditional college.  Use the form page on the links below to get information regarding tuition, financial aid and enrollment dates.

As mentioned earlier, a master’s degree in psychology will open doors to better job prospects and provide you with skills that will help you in any industry. In addition to all the jobs mentioned above, a master’s degree will also allow you to practice psychology in many different fields, albeit usually under the supervision of someone with a more advanced degree.  This is why most individuals who earn their master’s degree eventually decide to pursue doctoral degree (PhD), which will allow them to practice psychology independently in most states.

Alaska Master's
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Wisconsin Master's
Wyoming Master's

Earning Your Doctoral Degree in Psychology

A doctoral degree (PhD) is the most advanced degree you can earn in the field of psychology.  This degree is commonly pursued by individuals who wish to become a clinical, counseling, or research psychologist, to name a few.

A doctoral degree is the minimum education requirement for licensure in nearly every state in the U.S. and will allow you to practice independently and to call yourself a psychologist. The Ph.D. in psychology is a research-intensive program that will take 2-4 years to complete depending on the field of specialization and aptitude of the student. The program will also require a dissertation based on your area of specialization and a one-year internship when in clinical programs.. According to the American Psychological Association, enrollment in an accredited doctoral program is required for entrance into APA sponsored student-internship programs.

Students enrolled in a psychology doctoral program will learn advanced concepts critical to the practice of psychology, and immerse themselves in real world situations that will prepare them for independent practice.  Upon completion of the degree, students will be poised to take the final steps to become a licensed psychologist, and will have built an impressive academic foundation.  If you aspire to be a  clinical or counseling psychologist, and wish to open your own practice in counseling or psychotherapy, your career path will lead you to a doctoral degree.

Receive Information from the Popular Psychology Doctorate Degree Programs Below:

If you are interested in earning a doctoral degree we suggest learning more about the colleges in your area.   Below we list some of the more popular online and campus schools in the U.S. for psychology doctorate programs.   While entrance to many doctoral programs can be highly competitive, online colleges can be easier to get into, provide a more flexible learning environment, and offer you curriculum that is very similar to that of a traditional college.  See the links below to get information regarding tuition, financial aid and enrollment dates.

Choosing the right doctoral program can be another challenge. Luckily, there is so much information readily available on the Internet; it will be hard to make an uninformed decision. For starters, the U.S. World News and Report  published a list of the top psychology graduate schools in 2009. If that isn't enough to convince you the extra schooling is worth it, then consider that a 2009 Employment Survey from the American Psychological Association’s Center for Workforce Studies found that 72 percent of psychologists who earned their doctorates in that year got their top choice when looking for a job. In addition, 73 percent said they were employed within three months of receiving their degree.  For those who are concerned about the salaries of psychologists, the highest paid and greatest range of jobs in psychology are available to those with doctorates in psychology. Unemployment levels remain below those noted for other scientists and engineers and few leave the field.

Featured Schools with Psychology Degree Programs

If you are interested in finding a school that meets your level of educational need start by browsing the featured programs below.  Many of them offer online and campus programs. Learn more about their offerings by requesting more information.