If you are a psychology student or not, if you wish to pursue your master’s degree in psychology, you will first have to determine whether it is the right course for you. However, there are some pointers you should check before taking admission to any desired course. For example, you can check what the course offers, what areas you will study, universities you can apply to, your opportunities after completion, and how much money you will make. We will try to answer some of these in this article.
About the Course- Master’s Degree in Psychology
A master’s degree in psychology is a one or two years long postgraduate program. You can go for your master’s degree after the completion of your undergraduate degree. There are two forms of master’s degree in psychology that various universities offer; M.A. (Master of Arts) and M.S. (Master of Science).
- M.A. – A master of arts degree generally focuses on the theoretical and humanities aspects of the subject.
- M.S. – A master’s in science degree mainly focuses on the science and research aspect of the subject.
After completion of your master’s degree, you can go for a doctoral program. There are terminal degree programs that provide you with proper knowledge of the specific field to professionally practice after completing your master’s degree in your specialty area. In a master’s program, students study many advanced topics depending on their specialization. There are programs in general psychology at the master’s level, but many students go for specifications according to their interests. The following are the specifications you can study:
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Experimental Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Child Psychology
There are many online programs you can opt for according to your convenience. Before joining any course, you should first aim for the right colleges and universities. The college and the course you are going to study must be nationally or regionally recognized. If you aim to pursue a doctoral degree, most colleges won’t require a master’s degree.
You can directly go for a doctoral degree after completion of your bachelor’s degree. In case you are not sure if you want to pursue a Ph.D., then you can go for a master’s degree in your desired specialization, which will give you great exposure to the subject, and you can better decide then if you want to go for a doctoral program or not.
Most students go for master’s in a specific field. Specializations help improve one’s knowledge in a specific area, reflecting on your resume. In addition, a specialty in a specific field can provide you with many internships and job opportunities related to it.
Some specializations are listed below:
- CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY. It is similar to counseling psychology in many cases, but it deals with more severe disorders and plans to treat them. You have to earn your license to treat patients after the completion of your degree. This is a vast field of study, and you learn topics like abnormal and cognitive psychology.
- DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. In developmental psychology, you study the emotional physical, and that occurs during the lifecycle. Thus it is different from child psychology which focuses mainly on child development. Different stages of life, the changes, and their effects and behavior are studied under this area.
- FORENSICS. Like forensic psychology, you deal with accused or convicted criminals. Forensic psychologists work at police departments or prisons to analyze the behavior of criminals. Some work at rehabilitation centers where they engage with inmates.
- SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY. A school psychologist engages with students of the school and helps them with any social or emotional problems. In general, they deal with parents and other teachers to discuss the students’ well-being and improve their emotional behavior and academic performance.
- INDUSTRIAL – ORGANISATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY. In this field, you work with companies to improve the work environment and productivity of the employees by analyzing and implementing rules that help build a good productive work environment.
- SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY. In social psychology, we study how our social environment influences our behavior, thoughts, and actions. For example, we study how the thoughts and behavior of clothes influence ours. In addition, you study the concerns of society and social issues like violence, crime, bullying, drugs, prejudice, and many more.
- NEUROPSYCHOLOGY. In the field of neuropsychology, you study the relationship between a person’s behavior and their brain and the nervous system. You study the changes in behavior due to diseases that affect the brain or the nervous system. You also study how injuries in those areas can affect the behavior of a person.
PREPARING FOR MASTERS PROGRAM
- Prepare a list of the programs you are interested in
- Check the requirements and eligibility of the desired programs.
- GRE (Graduate Record Examination) may be required to take before admission to the desired program.
- You should also check for any subject-specific tests for admission to a particular course.
- Before joining, check the subjects and schedule of your choice and plan your year accordingly.
After completion of your course, you end up learning various skills like:
- Team rocking skills and interpersonal awareness.
- You improve your written and vocal communication skills.
- Comfortable in using software for statistical data.
- Problem-solving and analytical research skills.
- Critical thinking.
- Organizational and management skills.
There are opportunities to work after completion of your master’s degree but not too many. Still, you will get better opportunities after postgraduation than you will at the bachelor’s level.
Some of the options are listed below:
- SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST. School psychologists assist students on various levels. First, they act as counselors and help students who suffer from any emotional or social issues. Second, they help in resolving any conflicts with which the student approaches them. Finally, they help in counseling about career interests and selection of courses. They also interact with parents when required and help students who witnessed trauma due to disturbing encounters like bullying.
- MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST. As a marriage counselor, you interact with couples suffering from disputes in their marriage. With various therapy sessions, they try to engage and address the issues and try to resolve the problems. A family therapist helps you help people in dealing with their close relationships and problems related to them. For example, people dealing with a recent divorce, the death of a loved one, recent changes within the family, or any problem involving closed relationships within family and friends seek help from a family therapist.
- SOCIAL WORKER. You can work as a social worker in an organization of your choice. However, before starting, you might have to earn a license to help people suffering from any psychological issue or disorder. As a social worker, you can provide therapy sessions, help to solve practical concerns of your clients or assist in any welfare program.
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR. As a counselor, you help people struggling with addiction to drugs. Your goal is to treat their addiction and help them improve their health and lifestyle. You can even work as a counselor for prisoners. You help them cope with their environments.
- INDUSTRIAL – ORGANISATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST. As an industrial psychologist, you work with companies in enhancing productivity. You try to understand the team functioning and try to improve their employee’s work environment, try to implement rules to increase productivity and satisfaction of their employees for better results.
Also, some entry-level jobs in fields like forensic or medical, universities, businesses, or government offices.
After completion of your master’s degree, you can work in various fields as listed above. Although, your salary can vary according to where you work. Different organizations and different states offer different ranges of salary. If you work as a school counselor or psychologist, then you can earn up to an average of $75,000 annually. A marriage or family counselor and a social worker earn around $45,000 – $50,000 annually.
If you start working as a teacher at the primary or secondary level, then you can earn up to $75,000 on an average annually. Psychology is a vast field, and a master’s degree will help you gain more knowledge in the area and improvise your chances of succeeding in the field of interest.