What to Expect from a Master's Degree Program in Psychology
Master's degrees in psychology offer students who were undergraduate psychology majors the chance to learn more about a field of psychology that is of particular interest to them, and to get involved in research and thesis writing, whether it be for career preparation or for advanced degree preparation.
Earning a Master's Degree in Psychology
Masters degrees in psychology take two to four years to earn, typically, and can be completed at most major research universities and colleges. They draw on the knowledge that students gained through their undergraduate psychology degree programs, and delve deeper into specific case studies and research methodologies. Students will study a range of topics, including child psychology, psychobiology, and sociology, though most students eventually specialize in a specific area.
Depending on the school a student attends, a graduate student in psychology may well be required to participate in original studies to look into a specific aspect of human behavior. They will assist professors in creating a study, gathering and monitoring subjects, and interpreting and communicating results. These research opportunities may- though they do not have to- directly relate to a student's masters thesis. This thesis is an extensive research paper on a topic of the student's choosing, completed with the help of a professor or even a team of professors, that draws a conclusion based on existing or original research. These theses are written in such a way as to be medically publishable, to prepare students for the day that they may publish their own findings.
Using a Master's Degree in Psychology
Technically, in order to work as a psychologist, a professional must complete a doctoral degree in psychology. A master's degree program is often just another step on the way to enrolling in a docotral degree program, as a stepping stone between undergraduate and doctoral study. Completing a master's degree before a doctoral degree gives students the chance to gauge their personal interests and determine what field of psychology they would like to go into, so that they can get involved in research projects in their field early on. It is not unusual for graduate students to begin a research project at the master's level and see them through at the doctoral level. This also gives them the chance to build relationships with professors at their institution and possibly write a master's thesis that provides the framework for a more extensive dissertation.
There are some jobs for which a master's in psychology degree can be particularly valuable. School psychologists and counselors may have a master's in psychology (though each state regulates the requirements differently) and there are many counselors at rehab facilities, prisons, and general counseling centers who have master's degrees in counseling with a specialization in psychology or masters degrees in psychology with a specialization in counseling. These careers provide graduates with the chance to work with people who are struggling with various personal and mental issues without having to earn a doctoral degree. Some graduates of masters in psychology programs work as school psychologists, also, provided they meet other state requirements. (National Association of School Psychologists)