Psychology Degree Programs: Certificates, Majors & Important Info You Need to Know
Psychology degrees are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels, providing you with the tools you need to pursue a rewarding career in mental health.
Are you interested in helping others through psychological and counseling services? If so, enrolling in a psychology degree program may be the right choice for you!
With a variety of certificate and degree programs available, as well as majors to choose from, you have the opportunity to customize your studies to meet your career goals.
This article is designed to provide an in-depth look at the plethora of psychology degree programs available, their curriculum that can benefit you and your career ambitions, and a glimpse into the potential job prospects once you complete these programs.
Let’s discover the possibilities of these remarkable programs and how they can help shape your future!
What are Psychology Degree Programs?
Psychology and counseling are related fields that focus on helping people improve their mental health. Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes, while counseling focuses more on providing support and advice to individuals with mental or emotional issues.
Both psychologists and counselors work with clients to identify the underlying problems and develop strategies for improving their lives.
Psychology degree programs come in many forms depending on the institution. Some schools offer bachelor’s degrees in psychology or counseling that provide an overview of both fields. Others offer master’s degrees in psychology or counseling that include more specific courses such as clinical practice or research methodology. Finally, many universities provide doctoral-level programs focusing on research or clinical practice within the field.
No matter your education level, there will likely be some overlap between psychology and counseling topics covered during your coursework.
Studying psychology and counseling can provide a comprehensive understanding of how to aid individuals with mental health issues.
This involves not only the recognition of psychological disorders but also the ability to diagnose them accurately and develop tailored treatment plans that consider individual needs.
Overall, choosing a psychology degree program is ideal for those looking for long-term success. With so much potential available within these programs, now is a great time to explore your options!
Skills You'll Learn from a Psychology Degree
Psychology programs focus on developing the essential competencies to succeed in the field. These include:
- Critical thinking skills – Develop your ability to think critically and logically about complex problems so that you can come up with practical solutions.
- Communication skills – Improve your communication skills to effectively interact with clients, colleagues, supervisors, and other professionals in the field.
- Research Skills – Use research methods such as surveys and interviews to collect data accurately.
- Professionalism – Learn professional ethics and boundaries between therapist/client relationships.
- Knowledge of psychological theories – Acquire a comprehensive understanding of various psychological theories like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), humanistic-existential theory (HET), or psychodynamic therapy (PT), so you can better understand client needs.
A Psychology degree program can offer a variety of learning outcomes for those who wish to pursue a career in the field. Students enrolled in these programs can expect to understand psychological theories and research methods and develop skills in evidence-based assessment and treatment strategies appropriate for a range of mental health issues.
Additionally, students gain knowledge of ethical and legal considerations in the practice of psychology and counseling, as well as develop their interpersonal and communication skills. Upon completing a Psychology degree program, graduates are prepared to enter careers that involve providing psychological services in private practice, mental health facilities, hospitals, schools, or other settings.
Overall, a degree in psychology or counseling can open up numerous opportunities within the mental health field and beyond—from traditional clinical roles like therapist or psychologist to teaching at the university level or conducting research into human behavior.
What types of specialties and concentrations can you find in Psychology Degree programs?
Pursuing an education in psychology can open many doors for an individual, from obtaining licensure as a mental health counselor or marriage & family therapist to getting certification as a substance abuse counselor or social worker–the possibilities are endless.
Knowing what type of certificate or degree fits your interests and career goals can help you decide which educational path is right for you. With so many options available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, there’s sure to be something that fits your needs–all it takes is some research!
Let’s take a look at some of the most common majors in Psychology and what they offer!
Addiction/Substance Abuse Counseling
Addiction/substance abuse counseling is one of the most popular major options for psychology and counseling students, focusing on understanding addiction, prevention methods, and helping people with substance use disorders.
Those who pursue this major will learn how to assess addiction, provide guidance on prevention strategies, teach coping techniques, and help individuals develop healthy relationships with others.
Additionally, this major will prepare students to understand addiction-related issues’ legal implications and how to apply these laws when working with clients.
Forensic psychology is a relatively new major that combines law enforcement practices with psychological principles to understand criminal behavior from a legal and clinical perspective. Students interested in forensic psychology must gain an understanding of the legal system, including court proceedings, sentencing criteria, criminal responsibility, etc.
They must also study the science behind criminal behavior, including neuroscience, psychopathology, cognitive processes, trauma theory, etc. There are many opportunities within forensic psychology, including work with police departments, prisons, hospitals, consulting firms, and more.
Marriage/family counseling is another major option for those studying in the field of psychology or counseling. This type of counseling focuses on helping couples and families resolve conflicts and strengthen their relationships.
Students will learn about family dynamics such as communication styles, parenting roles, gender roles, etc., as well as gain an understanding of various family systems theories. Marriage/family counselors must also be familiar with ethical guidelines for working with couples or families, such as confidentiality issues or informed consent requirements.
Child and Adolescent Development
This major focuses on helping children develop emotionally, physically, cognitively, socially, and academically during different stages of life from infancy through adolescence.
This includes topics such as child psychology; learning processes; factors that affect development; parenting styles; adolescence; education systems; different cultures; health issues; substance abuse; poverty; mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety; risk factors associated with suicide ideation or attempts; etc. Students will gain insight into how these factors interact with each other to understand children’s development over time better.
Human Behavior and the Environment
Through this important major, students gain the tools to identify and explain behavior while also learning how family structures, institutions, organizations, and communities can contribute to critical matters faced by various populations.
The knowledge acquired through this major helps individuals understand critical theories and build practical intervention skills.
Clinical psychology is another major option that explores psychological assessment techniques used by mental health professionals, including psychotherapy sessions with individuals or groups; research methods; diagnosis; treatment planning; ethical considerations; crisis intervention.
Students pursuing this major will gain a deep understanding of psychological theories related to diagnosis and treatment planning and an appreciation for ethical practices when dealing with patients with mental health disorders. They will also be able to participate in clinical research projects while completing internships at hospitals or clinics during their studies.
What does the course curriculum look like in Psychology Degree Programs?
The course curriculum for Psychology degree programs typically includes a range of topics, including theories of psychology and counseling, research methods, abnormal psychology, clinical assessment techniques, interventions, and social and multicultural issues.
Coursework often includes theoretical and practical components, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.
Read on for an overview of some of the courses available in psychology and counseling programs.
Clinical Psychology Course
In this course, you will understand the essential elements of clinical psychology, such as its history, practice, and application in different settings.
Also, ethical issues will be analyzed to be aware of when counseling clients and explore what it means for therapists to exercise their professional roles and responsibilities sufficiently. You will also develop your own set of clinical skills with an emphasis on cultural diversity considerations and potential career-building opportunities.
Abnormal Psychology Course
This course presents an integrative and multidimensional perspective on the fascinating field of abnormal psychology. In this course, you will become familiar with the major psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, and various mood and psychotic conditions.
You’ll also learn how to assess abnormal behavior using our current classification system and its limitations. Also, you will get a comprehensive exploration of the essential models utilized to comprehend psychological disorders and their corresponding therapeutic methodologies.
Research Methods & Statistics in Psychology & Counseling
Research methods are essential for making sense of complex data sets related to psychological phenomena.
This course introduces students to qualitative research methods such as interviews and surveys and quantitative methods such as analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests and structural equation modeling (SEM). Additionally, students learn about essential statistical tools used for interpreting data.
Case Management in Clinical Settings
This course will give you an in-depth understanding of case management within a clinical setting. By exploring systems theory and models of case management, you will dive into the evaluation process for assessing client strengths and needs, treatment planning strategies, administration of services to meet individualized goals, working collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary team to support clients’ progress towards their treatment objectives as well as developing successful discharge plans.
Clinical Interview Techniques & Professional Ethics
Clinical interviewing is an essential course for any psychologist or counselor; it involves forming trusting relationships with clients to assess their needs accurately and provide effective treatment plans tailored specifically for them.
This course will teach you the basics of clinical interviewing techniques while also introducing the professional, ethical standards you must abide by when working with clients.
Important to Know
With the intertwining nature of Psychology and Counseling, it can be challenging to decipher their various qualifications. Acquiring a degree in psychology may lead you into counseling; alternatively, counselors might also have degrees in other subjects, such as sociology but are allowed to practice counseling nonetheless.
It is essential to understand that not all counselors are psychologists, and not all psychologists can be counselors.
To practice counseling professionally, most counselors must obtain a master’s degree in psychology or some form of counseling. There is also an array of specializations available at the master’s level, such as Addiction Counseling, Marriage Counseling, and Mental Health Counseling.
Psychologists, however, must have a doctorate in Psychology, meaning that psychologists have a much deeper experience and expertise, particularly in research, and have more options for their career paths, including clinical practice, research, and teaching.
Psychology Degree Programs: Career Outlook, Salary Potential & Positions
Psychology and counseling programs are in high demand, as evidenced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showing an astonishing growth in occupations related to psychology and counseling. Employment of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is projected to grow an impressive 4% from 2019 to 2029 – faster than the average for all occupations.
The employment of psychologists is predicted to grow 6% from 2021-2031, and around 14,100 new job opportunities for psychologists are anticipated each year on average over the decade. Most of these openings will be due to the necessity for replacements due to people transitioning jobs or leaving their posts, such as retirement.
In addition, employment of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is forecast to grow 22% from 2019 to 2029 – much faster than the average for all occupations. These positions offer quite competitive salaries, with clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earning a median annual salary of $76,990 in May 2019 and mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists earning a median yearly salary of $49,610 in May 2019.
On the other hand, employment in counseling and social service occupations is projected to grow an incredible 10 percent from 2021 to 2031. This increase is expected to result in about 294,600 new jobs over the decade. The median annual wage for this group was $48,410 in May 2021, which was higher than the median yearly wage for all occupations of $45,760.
Overall, psychology and counseling programs are set to provide a steady stream of high-paying jobs with outstanding prospects for many years to come, making them an attractive option for those who wish to pursue careers in this field.
Furthermore, the demand for these positions will likely continue as society’s mental health needs increase.
With a counseling or psychology degree, you can look forward to many career opportunities in the future.
Top Jobs you can get with Psychology Degree:
Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and their environments.
$81,040 per year
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people on various issues like alcoholism, addictions, or depression.
$48,520 per year
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.
$49,880 per year
School and Career Counselors and Advisors
School counselors help students develop academic and social skills. Career counselors and advisors help people choose a path to employment.
$60,510 per year
Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently.
$38,560 per year
Social workers help people prevent and cope with problems in their everyday lives.
$50,390 per year
Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.
$37,610 per year
High School Diploma
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists assist in rehabilitating law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.
$60,250 per year
Health Education Specialists
Health education specialists develop programs to teach people about conditions affecting well-being.
$48,860 per year
School psychologists diagnose and implement individual or school-wide strategies to address educational, behavioral, or developmental issues that adversely impact academic functioning.
They may address student learning and behavioral problems, counsel students, and evaluate performance.
$82,770 per year
*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.
Popular colleges with Psychology Degree Programs
Psychology and counseling are two growing fields that offer individuals a chance to help others and positively impact society. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in these fields, it’s essential to choose the right educational program to help you achieve your goals.
Here are the top 5 most popular psychology colleges and universities in the USA:
Harvard University is among the most prestigious universities in the United States, and its psychology and counseling programs are highly acclaimed for their innovative educational approaches.
Students have access to courses that cover a wide range of topics, from neuroscience to clinical practice, as well as research opportunities with renowned faculty members.
The school also offers several specialized programs for those interested in specific areas, such as child psychology or marriage therapy.
Stanford University’s Psychology Department is highly regarded for its cutting-edge research and innovative curriculum. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, and the department is home to numerous renowned scholars. The university offers clinical, developmental, and social psychology programs, among others.
This top-ranked university offers a cutting-edge program for those who wish to have an effect on the field of mental health. At Northwestern, students have the chance to immerse themselves in the dynamic world of offering therapy to various clientele.
Northwestern also offers a high-quality online program for those needing more flexibility. The program prides itself on being at the forefront of research and breakthrough therapy approaches. Students are taught to be reflective practitioners in a “learning-by-doing” model that immerses them in clinical work from the beginning.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a world-renowned institution that offers a substantial selection of psychology and counseling courses, including clinical psychology, educational psychology, and mental health counseling. In addition to its impressive course offerings, the school also provides opportunities for research and clinical internships to help enhance the student’s learning.
Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University is a respected institution with an excellent reputation for its psychology and counseling programs.
Students benefit from a curriculum that features both practical experience and research, giving them the skills they need to be successful in their future careers. Additionally, the school offers specialized programs for anxiety and depression.
What you need to know about Accreditation
Programmatic accreditation ensures students obtain a quality education in their desired field of study. Rather than reviewing the institution as a whole, programmatic organizations evaluate individual programs or offerings to guarantee they align with established standards and provide an adequate level of instruction within the specialty area.
*Our website proudly displays a reputable list of colleges and universities, all accredited by either renowned regional associations or highly respected national agencies that have been acknowledged by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
FAQ about Psychology Degree Programs
While psychology focuses on studying the human mind and behavior, counseling applies psychological principles to help individuals resolve personal, emotional, or behavioral problems.
Degrees in psychology and counseling can range from an associate’s to a doctoral degree, including Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D.
The time to complete a psychology or counseling program varies depending on the level of degree and program. Still, it can range from two years for an associate’s degree to six or more years for a doctoral degree.
Gaining practical experience is very important in Psychology & Counseling as it provides students with hands-on training and helps them develop skills essential for success in their careers.
The length of time it takes to complete a nursing degree depends on the type of degree being pursued and varies from two years (for an associate’s) up to eight years (for a master’s).
Individuals working in the field of Psychology & Counseling must adhere to ethical standards and guidelines set forth by professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association. These standards cover confidentiality, informed consent, and dual relationships.
To prepare for a psychology & counseling career, you can gain practical experience through internships, volunteer work, or research projects. You can also develop a strong network of professional contacts by attending conferences, participating in industry organizations, and connecting with others in the field.
The field of psychology and counseling offers a unique opportunity for students to explore their potential, develop interpersonal skills and gain insight into the dynamics of mental health.
These programs provide an invaluable resource for those looking to pursue careers in the helping professions or just interested in gaining personal understanding.
With the right combination of education, experience, and passion, psychology and counseling programs can open up countless opportunities for those interested in impacting the lives of others in meaningful ways.
The College Compass is reader-supported and committed to maintaining complete editorial independence. All views expressed are solely ours and are not influenced by any external party. We may include affiliate links in the article, which helps us earn a small commission to support our work. We always have a link to the source for any data or information we include. Learn more about our editorial practices.