Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Florida
Even as Florida serves as one giant theme park and vacation destination for the Eastern U.S. and Gallup poling shows Naples to be the happiest community in the nation three years running, just beyond the party beaches and resort towns is a growing mental-health epidemic that is nearing crisis levels.
Stress is one of the top contributors to deteriorating mental-health levels in the state. One study recently gave Florida the No. 3 spot on its list of the 10 Most Stressed Out States. The state has experienced a continued population explosion over the last two decades, and infrastructure has not kept up. This has led to stressful workday commutes, angry commuters, and a lot of accidents. In fact, in 2017 a number of Florida counties topped the list for most car accidents in the nation, while at the same time the state comes in second for most uninsured drivers.
And if those factors aren't enough to make a person seek the services of a psychologist, Florida's divorce rates are among the highest in the United States. These and other stress factors have created an urgent demand for psychologists, counselors, social workers and other mental-health care specialists in the state. The need for services greatly outweighs the availability of trained professionals, leaving many residents feeling overwhelmed and underserved.
The good news is that Florida offers nearly 30 master's and advanced degree programs in psychology, making it a great time to dive into this incredibly rewarding and valued career field.
Options for Master’s Licensure in Florida State
Psychology master's graduates will have no shortage of job opportunities in Florida. Social workers are needed for city and state-wide initiatives including welfare checks and hospice programs. There is also a high demand for school psychologists in both primary and secondary schools. Florida has two of the ten largest school districts in the nation, adding to its need for trained school counselors to help the state's young navigate the educational system.
Master’s Degree Options Available at a Wide Variety of Schools
Florida is home to a vast number of schools offering degrees in psychology. Not only do 46 schools here offer bachelor’s programs in psychology, 27 offer master's or doctorate degrees. Seven of these schools were ranked in the top 100 Kiplinger's Best Values in Public Colleges in 2017.
TheUniversity of Florida,which offers master's in psychology programs, was recently ranked No. 8 in the top 10 public universities in the nation. There are even online options for master's in psychology programs at colleges like Albizu University, for those who need more flexibility in scheduling classes.
School and Educational Psychology Proves to Be an Urgent Area
While nearly every state in the country has been touched by a school shooting tragedy, one of the worst in the country's history occurred when 17 students and teachers were gunned down at Parkland, Florida's Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. The county and state immediately deployed counselors from the area to the help the student's and instructional team cope with such a horrific event.
But day to day, students in Florida schools do not have open access to a psychologist. When Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg visited Middleton High School in Tampa, just two days after the Parkland shooting, he was astonished to learn that the school's 1,600 students had only one school psychologist. And that psychologist only worked at the school three days a week.
While the Parkland shooting was one of the most heinous of its kind, it did make districts across the state stand up and take notice. In the wake of the shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was established. This has brought in an estimated $69 million dollars for districts to share for the purpose of reinforcing safety protocols in schools, but also to expand mental health care.
The need for trained psychologists in schools has never been greater. Students in today's world are dealing with stresses that were never thought of just two or three decades ago, but have now become commonplace in society.
Addiction and Recovery Psychology Offers Hope
Like other states, Florida has its share of opiate addiction issues. In 2013 and 2014, nearly 410,000 Floridians were addicted to or had misused illegal drugs. Drugs abuse, however, is not the only addiction that shatters lives. Alcoholism and behavioral addictions like problem gambling are other areas that impact both the person addicted, and their family members.
There are a variety of both public and private funded recovery centers in Florida, offering hope and recovery to individuals afflicted with addiction.
In Florida, addiction specialists can hold any one of the following certifications: Certified Addiction Counselors (CAC), Certified Addiction Professionals (CAP), Certified Gambling Addiction Counselor (CGAC), Certified E-therapist (CET), Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS), and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS). The Certified Master's Level Addiction Professional (MCAP) requires a master's degree. With this certification, counselors will be part of evaluating, creating and providing treatment plans for substance abuse.
Find a Career in Military Psychology with a Master’s Degree
Florida has an extensive and underserved military population. Between the 21 military bases in the state, and the large number of military retirees, there is a real need for psychologists trained in this very specialized niche.
Military life has demands and sacrifices like few other careers, and those sacrifices are made by the entire family, not just the service member. Psychologists are needed to serve spouses, children and military members alike. The men and women in military roles are the country's greatest assets and they need to be at their best while serving their country. They also need to know that their families have mental-health professionals available to them, especially when they are called away on duty.
Many of the psychologist roles in the V.A. environment require a doctorate in psychology, but those with three years of graduate work study can apply to the Psychology Training Program at places like the North Florida/Georgia Veterans Health System.
Demand for Marriage and Family Therapists
In 2017 the U.S. Census Bureau found that Florida had the seventh-highest divorce rate in the country.
Divorce and single-parent homes only increase the need for mental health professionals to help both the parents and the children from these families. A Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) can help these families navigate the murky waters of splitting up and moving on. Offering a Master of Science in Family Therapy, Nova Southeastern University is one college in Florida leading the way in preparing students to take on the unique challenges that come with a career in MFT. Graduates of this program have demonstrated this preparedness with very high post-graduation success rates, including a 100% national exam pass rate and job placement rate for the past several years running.