Psychology Degrees: What You Should Know

A career in psychology requires an in depth study of how people and/or groups think and feel. The observance of human behaviors, how they think, how they feel and in the majority of cases, why they think and feel the way the do, is the goal of someone in the field of psychology. Albeit a rewarding career, there are several different fields in which someone interested in psychology can specialize. There are several different psychology degrees available, ranging from an associate degree to a doctorate degree. Various fields of psychology require more in depth studies than others, for example if you want a career as a doctorate of sports psychology, the length of education would be several years longer than if you should opt for a career as a psychology technician. The following is a detailed explanation of only a few of the different fields of psychology, the education required and what career options are available for the psychology degree earned.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is a specialized area of psychology with a concentration on mental disorders or problems. Some clinical psychologists may have a specialization such as dealing primarily with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder while someone else may specialize in more personal problems such as grief. In order to practice as a clinical psychologist, you must hold either a masters degree in psychology or a doctorate in psychology. With a masters in psychology, you can have a practice, however, in most states there must be a psychologist with a doctorate degree either in the same location or available to sign off on certain diagnosis's or recommendations.

Research Psychology

Some with a degree in psychology choose to work in the field of research or experimental psychology. The work can be conducted either at a business or a university. The research psychologist will typically study human or animal behavior and their relationship to the environment. Although it is possible to work in the field of research psychology with a bachelors in psychology, the work you could do would be extremely limited. For in depth research and evaluations, to work in a university as an instructor of research psychology and to be “recognized” for evaluations, a ma in psychology or a PhD in psychology is required.

Counseling Psychology

This is the field that most students associate with when they are studying or considering an education in psychology. A counseling psychologists typically spends time with clients to "counsel" them on a vast array of personal and social issues. If you would like to work in a hospital, rehabilitation center or have a private practice, a masters degree in counseling psychology is required.

Branches Of Psychology

There are several branches of psychology such as with a degree in clinical psychology you could specialize in other fields such as forensic psychology or criminal psychology and with a degree in counseling psychology you could, for example specialize in sports psychology.

Associate Degree

An associate degree is a two year degree program. With this degree you could in a few different fields such as a technician at a hospital that has a mental health unit. The client contact with an associate degree is extremely limited, for example if working at a hospital, the duties would include monitoring patients, helping with grooming and meals.

Bachelor Degree

With a bachelor of psychology degree, the career options are much larger than with an associate degree. For example with a bachelors in psychology, you could work as a probation or parole officer, lab assistant, mental health case manager, in most states you could teach grades K-12, psychiatric assistant, career specialist or recreation specialist, as well as several other options. Earning a BA or BS degree in psychology typically takes four years.

Masters Degree

Earning a masters degree in psychology typically takes an additional two years after receiving a bachelors degree, however, with some online universities a psychology masters can be completed in a year and a half if classes are taken full time. With a masters degree in psychology there are several career options available such as a counseling practice, teaching, research or developmental psychology.

Doctorate Degree

A doctoral degree is the highest degree you can earn in psychology. A doctorate in psychology typically takes an additional three to seven years to complete, depending on the number of courses taken and the amount of time it takes to finish the dissertation. There are two options for doctorate degrees in psychology, a PhD in psychology or a PsyD. A PhD is a research degree and requires a standard dissertation be completed before the degree is awarded. With a PsyD, a dissertation is not typically required, instead the focus would be on clinical training and you are required to pass a variety of exams before the degree is awarded. With a doctorate degree, the career options are limitless ranging from working as a researcher to owning a private clinical practice.