Psychology Degrees Overview: What Psychology Degree Is Right for Me?

There are currently several different degrees you may earn in psychology, as well as a graduate-level certificate program. It’s possible to find work in this industry at every level. However, if your long-term goal is to work as a researcher or clinical psychologist, you’ll need at least a graduate degree. Here’s a quick comparison of the psychology degree types available:

Associate’s DegreeUndergraduate degree in psychology2 yearsIntroductory courses in psychology, including research methods, statistics, and an overview of major theories and subfields
Bachelor’s DegreeUndergraduate degree in psychology4 yearsBroad overview of the field, including research methods, statistics, major theories and subfields, and practical applications of psychology
Master’s DegreeGraduate degree in psychology1-3 yearsSpecialized training in a subfield of psychology, such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or social psychology, as well as advanced research methods and statistics
Graduate CertificatePost-master’s program in psychology6-12 monthsFocused study in a specific area of psychology, such as cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, or forensic psychology
Ph.D.Doctoral degree in psychology5-7 yearsIn-depth research training, advanced coursework in a subfield of psychology, and preparation for academia or advanced research roles
PsyDDoctoral degree in psychology4-6 yearsEmphasis on clinical training and practice, including supervised clinical experience and a focus on the practical application of psychology

Associate’s Degree in Psychology

It typically takes two years, or four semesters, to earn an associate’s degree in psychology or a related field. This is equivalent to roughly 60 credit hours. With an associate’s degree in psychology, you may be prepared to take on an entry-level position. Careers such as teacher’s aide, family advocate within the legal system, or youth counselor often list an associate’s degree as a requirement.

Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

A bachelor’s degree in psychology is a four-year degree that’s equivalent to about 120 credit hours. Earning your bachelor’s degree gives you the opportunity to delve into more advanced psychology training, and it may help you narrow your focus career-wise. For instance, you may decide to specialize in industrial-organizational psychology, child psychology, or sports psychology.

Master’s Degree in Psychology

If you earn a master’s degree in psychology, you’ll have earned a graduate-level degree that is equivalent to six additional years of education beyond high school. Graduates at this level typically earn more money and have greater responsibilities. With a master’s degree, you may begin to counsel clients under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist. This degree requires the completion of an additional 30 to 40 credit hours beyond the 120.

A master’s degree in psychology may prepare you for a variety of rewarding careers, including:

A master’s degree in psychology is an asset in many industries, including corporate, education, and health care.

Graduate Certificate in Psychology

A graduate certificate in psychology requires the completion of additional college credits — usually about 30. It’s useful as a tool for graduates who may hold a master’s degree (or, in some cases, a bachelor’s degree) in a related field and desire more training and education in psychology. It’s important to note that a graduate certificate is not a standalone degree; it’s a specialty certificate designed to help individuals broaden their knowledge base in a psychology concentration.

Doctorate Degrees in Psychology

You may earn either a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology, which is more research-based, or a Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD), which is a clinical degree. It usually requires an additional 70 college credits to earn a doctoral degree. A doctorate is the highest degree a psychology student can achieve, and will lead to the most advanced career opportunities in the field.

Popular Psychology Specialties

There are many specialty areas that psychologists can pursue. Whether you want to work with a specific client population or focus in on a niche area of mental health, there's a career pathway out there for you. The following are some popular psychology specialties - visit our Psychology Careers page for more.

Child Psychologist

Child Psychologists specialize in diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. They work with children and their families to develop treatment plans that address specific issues and promote overall well-being.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychologists utilize psychological techniques in the criminal justice system; not only in understanding the criminal mind and devising profiles but also in designing programs for crime prevention.

School Psychologist

A School Psychologist is a trained professional who works within a school setting to support students' academic, social, and emotional development. They use their knowledge of psychology and education to help students overcome challenges and reach their full potential.


Online Degrees and Programs in Sports Psychology

Discover Online Psychology Programs

Online psychology degrees offer the flexibility and convenience to complete your education on your terms.

Find out if an online or hybrid program is right for you.

Online Psychology Programs

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