Psychology degrees cover various aspects and influences of human behavior. Graduates pursue a range of careers associated with the human mind, depending on the degree-level and area of specialization. Programs are offered through traditional colleges and universities, as will as online. No two psychology degrees are the same, but many share similar program structure and objectives.
Associate in Psychology
For students who hope to pursue careers in the field of psychology but aren’t yet ready to commit to a traditional four-year degree, an Associate of Arts degree in psychology may be a good choice. These two-year programs focus on the basic tenants and principals of personal and social psychology. Students will gain an understanding of the factors that affect the human thought process. The objective for associate degree programs is to prepare students for entry-level careers while working under the supervision of professional psychologists, and to ready students for further education. Required courses could include introduction to psychology, developmental psychology, theories of personality and research methods.
Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Four-year bachelor’s degree programs in psychology place an emphasis on the many factors that shape human behavior. Unlike most A.A. programs, B.A. degrees often require students to choose an area of specialization, such as human development or abnormal psychology. In addition to course work in the social sciences, a typical B.A. psychology program incorporates course work from the natural sciences, such as biological science. Research projects and internships are commonly associates with this degree. Many B.A. graduates go on to pursue further education in their chosen specializations. Those who don’t may pursue careers as counselor aides, case managers or social workers.
Master’s Degree in Psychology
Graduates with a B.A. in psychology often decide to continue their education at the master’s level. Master’s degree programs in psychology are usually quite flexible, allowing students to broaden their knowledge by exploring new areas of psychology, or to reinforce their current area of focus. In addition to M.A. programs in general psychology, there are often other specialized programs to choose from, such as consumer psychology, forensic psychology and industrial psychology. Though some graduates use their new qualifications to land jobs such as executive coaches, workplace trainers and psychological research assistants, many graduates choose to continue their education at the doctoral level.
Doctoral Degree in Psychology
Graduate students at the doctoral level focus on research in their particular area of specialization. In addition to required course work, these programs require students to satisfy a research project approved by the students’ faculty advisers. Most schools require students to pass a rigorous qualifying examination in their area of specialization a few years into their doctoral studies. Upon completion of all other requirements, including any residencies and internships, students must complete and defend a dissertation. Doctoral degrees in psychology prepare students for careers as educators, psychotherapists and specialized psychologists.
Bill Reynolds holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Rowan University. He has written hundreds of articles for print and online media, drawing inspiration from a wide range of professional experiences. As part of the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, he has been nominated for the James Kirkwood Prize for Creative Writing.