Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in West Virginia
Although less than two percent of the population here are involved in the mining industry, it’s part of the identify of the state and the self-identity of the people who live here. Flinty and resourceful are the name of the game in mining… a mindset that psychologists can find tough to crack without the right training.
West Virginia’s fortunes have fallen with the reduction in coal consumption and production, and more residents have left the state than entered it since 1990. In the midst of the economic woes, it’s a state that is having to reinvent itself, and that makes it an exciting place for psychologists to set up shop.
But the disruption has also created human suffering. When people are hurting and don’t have access to psychological services, they often turn to other solutions… some of them deadly. According to the DEA, West Virginia has the highest per capita drug-related death rate in the country.
Psychology in West Virginia is all about small-town psychology practice. Charleston is the only city in the state to break 50,000 in population.
History and honor are important to West Virginians, and both are factors that make psychology here a different game than elsewhere in the country.
Home to Small Universities with Big Heart
Online master’s degree programs are popular for psychology students here in West Virginia since you don’t have a lot of options close to home. But the good news is that both your options are good ones. Marshall University and West Virginia University are both small, but well-respected public research universities with first-rate psychology departments.
WVU admits only about four students each year (you read that right!) but those students have access to five different specializations and a lot of individualized attention from program instructors. And Marshall’s APA-award-winning faculty has similar benefits to offer their select group of graduate students.
Licensing Requirements Demand a Commitment to Higher Education
A doctoral degree is what you need to shoot for if you plan to become licensed as a psychologist in West Virginia, but you’ll have to pick up a master’s degree along the way, so it pays to look carefully at your options.
Becoming a school psychologist is a different story; West Virginia’s qualifications are fairly relaxed, and you will have no trouble meeting them with a master’s degree.
There’s also good news if you plan to practice counseling or marriage and family therapy in the state: both fields offer licensure to psychology master’s graduates, although for an MFT license you will have to take a concentration specific to that area of practice in order to qualify.
The Center of The Opioid Crisis in American Needs Psychological Assistance
Little Williamson, tucked up along the Tug Fork in Mingo County, is a characteristically sleepy West Virginia coal town with fewer than 3,200 residents living in homes dotting the surrounding hillsides and along either side of the railroad tracks.
But the sleepy side roads obscure something dangerous and critical about the town: the more than 21 million prescription opiate pills shipped to the town over a ten-year period that have made it ground zero for the national opioid epidemic. At 6,500 pills per resident, it’s no secret that the drugs have gone for something other than legitimate medical use.
Psychologists specializing in addiction treatment have been at the forefront of combating the overprescription tendencies that have contributed to the epidemic. In West Virginia, the state with the highest number of addicts per capita, it’s become clear that there simply aren’t enough trained professionals to handle the issue. WVU has been breaking ground in addiction studies education to help tackle that problem, which makes it a great choice for students planning for a career in addiction treatment.
Widespread Poverty in a Rural State Requires Innovative Approaches To Psychological Services
One revelation coming out of the drug addiction problem in West Virginia was that nearly a quarter of all counties in the state didn’t have a single drug addiction counselor. While that fact bore most directly on addiction issues, it pointed to a more general issue facing the state: poverty and isolation in a largely rural population.
West Virginia was already near the bottom of the barrel in American poverty statistics, with nearly 20 percent of the population below the line, but even as the rest of the country has seen dropping unemployment and rising wages, West Virginia’s problems have only been increasing.
Psychologists can’t do much about income disparities directly, but they are vital for dealing with the emotional and physical consequences of poverty. The challenge of providing those services only goes up in rural areas such as West Virginia, and it takes special training to deal with it.
Marshall’s psychology department has an emphasis on rural and underserved populations that aligns perfectly with this state-wide need.
Whether you get your master’s there or at WVU, you’ll find yourself with some of the tough, resourceful traits that West Virginians are known for when you graduate.