The field of psychology is growing in importance as more people realize the value of mental well-being, and are becoming more aware of mental illnesses in general. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts a 12 percent growth in the number of positions in this field between 2012 and 2022. If you are interested in becoming a psychologist, you will need formal training. Psychology degrees could help you receive this training, and help you enter the field.
What Types of Psychology Degrees Are Available?
At an undergraduate level, students may choose between two programs. They could either complete an associate's degree in psychology or a bachelor's degree. An associate's degree usually takes two years to complete, and is offered at community colleges. It is aimed at equipping students with the basic understanding of the field of psychology, and may include some practical training. Most students use this as a stepping stone towards a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree is usually spread over a four-year period, and could either be a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. The BA program typically couples your coursework in psychology along with courses in the humanities. These are aimed at improving the analytical and problem-solving skills of students, and to make them more compassionate individuals. The Bachelor of Science degree couples coursework with more technical preparation in general science areas.
At the graduate level, students could choose to pursue either a Master of Science or Master of Arts degree in psychology. Typically, graduate psychology degrees take between two to three years to complete, and students may specialize their learning by choosing a particular area of psychology in which they would like to work. Earning these advanced degrees may help to increase your job prospects because you are able to learn advanced techniques to use in your practice.Some master's level programs are designed to help students prepare for doctoral studies, while others will help you enter the professional field. It is a good idea to be sure of your own goals before choosing a program.
At the highest level, students could obtain either a PhD in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree. These last between four and seven years, and vary slightly in their approach. The PhD is more focused at making you a better researcher or academic; whereas, the Doctor of Psychology degree is oriented towards professional practice. However, students with either degree may swap between professional practice and research at their own convenience as well.
Obtaining psychology degrees is not enough if you want to become a professional psychologist. It is also important for you to go through licensing exams, and prove your capabilities before being authorized to practice your profession legally within the US. It is also a good idea to continue taking short training courses to improve your own practice, and become aware of the latest trends in the field of psychology. Typically, doctoral degrees are only required for senior-level positions or if you want to set up a private practice.