What type of psychology master's degree should you pursue?


  • What type of psychology master's degree should you pursue?

    If you're interested in various elements of human behavior, you might be thinking of going back to school for Psychology & Behavioral Sciences. Maybe you earned an undergraduate degree and are looking to advance your understanding of a specific topic within the field. Or perhaps you're looking into a career change that requires you to dive deep into the fascinating field of psychology.

    We've compiled a list of master's degree programs that allow you to dig deeper into the field of psychology, as well as potential career paths you can pursue with these specializations:

    Clinical psychology

    This branch of psychology focuses closely on psychological dysfunctions and disorders, as well as methods of treating them. Individuals who are interested in learning the therapeutic methods of intervention to help patients deal with their conditions and neuroses may find that a master's degree in clinical psychology best suits their goals.

    Some potential careers you might consider after completing your master's in Clinical Psychology include:

    • Clinical social worker
    • Substance abuse counselor
    • Psychotherapist
    • Forensic psychologist

    Cognitive psychology

    If you're more interested in the inner workings of the mind, you might consider a master's degree in cognitive psychology. The main subject areas associated with this branch of psychology involve matters of thinking and mental processes. Cognitive psychology explores the functions of the brain, including attention, learning and memory.

    The most natural career progression you will experience after earning a master's degree in this area of psychology is as a cognitive psychologist. The expected earnings projection for these professionals depends on a variety of factors, including experience and degree level. Although you have a higher earning potential if you pursue a Ph.D., you have more optimistic salary options with a master's than you would with a bachelor's alone. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive psychologists working as industrial and organizational psychologists earn more than $114,040 a year.

    cognitive psychology brain head skullCognitive psychology focuses on the inner workings of the brain.

    Developmental psychology

    This type of psychology involves the study of the ways in which people operate during every stage of their lives. Those studying developmental psychology attempt to make sense of the ways people behave, think and feel over the course of their lifespans. Developmental psychology students will work across a wide range of age groups, from infants to the elderly.

    Even though developmental psychology involves the study of different age groups, you may decide to hone your career in on one developmental stage that you find the most interesting. Or you can pursue a more wide-ranging career path, taking on patients and clients in all walks of life. Here are some career paths you might pursue with a master's degree in developmental psychology:

    • Behavioral therapist
    • Adolescent development specialist
    • Early childhood education specialist
    • Hospital facilitator

    Educational psychology

    While many fields of psychology focus on the relationship to individuals, educational psychology examines the subject as it relates to teaching and learning. Those who are pursuing advanced degrees in educational psychology will assess and experiment with different educational practices, determining what works and what doesn't work in various learning environments.

    Whether you'd like to work in a K-12 school setting, in higher education or in a research lab, there are plenty of career choices you can make with a master's degree in educational psychology, such as:

    • School psychologist
    • Professor of education
    • Educational researcher
    • College counselor

    Counseling psychology

    Counseling psychology is the field most people think of when they imagine a psychologist — picturing the visual of a counselor taking notes of the statements made by a patient who is lying on a couch. This type of psych is similar to clinical psychology, as it focuses on ways to help individuals work through stress and issues. Unlike clinical psych, which focuses primarily on the individual, counseling psychologists work with their patients to improve their interpersonal relationships in order to achieve emotional well-being.

    Here are some careers you might consider if you are interested in the field of counseling psychology:

    • Substance abuse counselor
    • School psychologist
    • Marriage and family therapist

    Social psychology

    Last but not least, we have the field of social psychology. Many people confuse this practice with sociology, the study of human society. The main difference between these disciplines is the fact that sociology tends to focus primarily on groups of individuals, while social psychology places an emphasis on human behavior and communication on more of an individualized basis.

    Because psychology is a crucial component in all types of fields and settings, you can specialize in social psychology through the following careers:

    • Industrial-organizational psychologist
    • Political strategist
    • Researcher

    Once you've pinpointed what parts of the field you're interested in, you can narrow down your search by browsing various graduate degrees in psychology. Whether you'd like to learn more about the inner workings of the brain or people's connections and interactions with one another, there are plenty of degree options to choose from.

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