Quantitative psychology is a sub-field that involves research, mathematics and statistics dealing with human behavior. Find out about job duties, educational requirements, degree coursework and career salaries.
Quantitative psychology involves using statistical and mathematical models and measurements to gather and analyze data for use in the study of the human mind or psyche. This field is also sometimes called psychometrics. Unlike counseling or clinical psychology, which focus on treating patients with mental disorders and helping people overcome problems, quantitative psychology focuses more on research, mathematics and statistics.
For example, as a quantitative psychologist or psychometrician, you might develop or revise tests for measuring personality or intelligence; other psychology professionals then use these tests in clinical or counseling settings. You might also assist with designing a research project or interpreting its results. With a master's degree in quantitative psychology, you might work in private research or for a testing company. A doctoral degree is likely to be required to work for a college, university or government agency. You're likely to work in a comfortable office setting or laboratory, possibly splitting your time between research and teaching.
As a quantitative psychologist, you might expect to earn between $32,001 and $106,770 per year. This was the annual salary for most psychometricians as reported by PayScale.com in March 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also noted that psychologists with a background in quantitative research and computer science can have better job prospects than those with simply a background in counseling or health psychology. For psychologists not working in a counseling or industrial field, the BLS projects an 11% increase in job opportunities between 2012 and 2022.
To work in this field, you typically need a graduate degree. Several colleges and universities offer master's degree programs in quantitative psychology. To get started, you may want to consider taking high school or undergraduate courses in statistics, mathematics, technology and computer programming.
Before you can apply to a master's program, you typically need to earn a bachelor's degree. You generally don't need a specific undergraduate major, but some undergrad courses in psychology, research methods and statistics may be required or recommended.
A master's degree in this field typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. Many master's degree programs in this field are in general psychology or psychological sciences while offering concentrations or an emphasis in quantitative psychology. Courses in a master's degree program may include measurement theory, assessment methods, experimental design, applied behavior analysis, test theory, latent variable modeling and multivariate analysis. You might also take courses in some other areas of psychology, such as cognitive psychology or organizational psychology. Additionally, you may be required to complete a thesis or research apprenticeship to earn your master's degree.
Doctoral programs in quantitative psychology are also an option, and you may need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) for some research and teaching positions; it can give you a competitive edge in the job market for other positions as well. As of January 2012, the American Psychological Association (APA) provided at least a partial list of schools that offer Ph.D. concentrations in this field (www.apa.org). Quantitative psychology Ph.D. requirements typically involve completion of coursework (and sometimes a concurrent master's degree, such as in applied statistics) in topics such as experimental design and computational experimental programming, along with doctoral exams and a dissertation on a topic in quantitative psychology that can be published in an academic journal.