Encyclopedia Britannica defines applied psychology as the use of scientific psychology and methods to understand human behavior and help people solve problems. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't keep track of applied psychology as a separate field, it does indicate that psychologists in general are in high demand.

Approximately 181,600 people currently work as psychologists with an anticipated growth rate of six percent annually through 2031. The BLS also reports that psychologists at the midpoint of their careers earn an average annual salary of $81,040. Assessment Development Specialist, Clinical Psychologist, and Behavioral Intervention Specialist are just some of the job titles people with this credential can pursue.

Students completing a graduate certificate take a lighter course load than students working on their master's degree. They also don't have thesis or internship requirements. People choose to earn graduate certificates for many reasons, including:

  • Meet continuing education requirements
  • Acquire new skills
  • Improve prospects for career advancement
  • Entering the field of applied psychology immediately upon graduation

Graduate certificate programs come in a variety of formats including fully online or partially online options. The first step to working in the field of applied psychology is to complete a general psychology master's degree program and then earn a graduate certificate in the preferred specialty.

What Will I Learn in an Online Applied Psychology Graduate Certificate Program?

Regent University, a private Christian college located in Virginia, is a good example of the types of courses and learning tracks students can expect to encounter. Before completing the certificate program in applied psychology, students may wish to explore one of these educational tracks:

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Cyber Psychology
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Leadership and Coaching
  • Marriage and Family Therapy

As far as typical coursework goes, here are some examples from Grand Canyon University in Colorado:

  • Cognitive Science
  • Criminal Behavior
  • Ethics and Professional Behavior in Psychology
  • Geriatric Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Human Psychology through the Lifespan
  • Life Coaching
  • Research Methods
  • Sociology

Students frequently complete their graduate certificate program in the same program where they obtain their master's degree in general psychology. Although certificate programs don't require internships, students should look for schools that provide graduate students with this opportunity, and make sure that their online programs allow them to perform these internships locally. Accreditation for both the school and the program is also important, with backing from the American Psychological Association being especially critical.

Admissions Requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Applied Psychology

Acceptance to the top applied psychology graduate certificate programs requires the completion of a bachelor's degree and acceptance to a master’s degree program in psychology. Below are some additional admissions requirements typical of colleges and universities offering the best applied psychology graduate certificate programs.

  • A minimum grade point average in previous college coursework, typically 3.00 or above
  • Official copies of transcripts from all institutions of higher learning
  • Up to three letters of recommendation from someone who knows the student's work habits and character. An academic advisor, previous professors, or current or former employer are all acceptable references for most schools.
  • Resume or CV that outlines education and work experience to date, particularly as it relates to the field of psychology. Internship experience is acceptable.
  • A letter written by the applicant outlining their goals for the program, why they chose this particular field, and how they intend to apply what they have learned to a career after graduation.
  • Application fee as determined by the school.
  • Proof of English proficiency for applicants whose primary language is anything other than English.

One of the biggest misconceptions about applied psychology is that it limits people to working in the field of mental health. The reality is that people with this training are in demand in non-medical professions as well, such as marketing, politics, or onsite with an employer.

List of Applied Psychology Grad Certificate Programs

Find an online or campus-based graduate certificate program in Applied Psychology today – our state-by-state listings make it easy to find a great program near you.

Fairfax, VA

Graduate Certificate Programs
4400 University Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
(703) 993-1000

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

Joel Gill
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