Master of Science Programs in Psychology
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology programs prepare students for careers such as industrial-organizational psychologists or mental health counselors or to enter a doctoral program in psychology. Learn about the coursework in a psychology master's degree program as well as online learning options and career information.
What Do I Need to Know About a Master of Science in Psychology Program?
A doctoral degree in psychology is generally required to become a licensed clinical or counseling psychologist or to perform independent research in the field. However, a Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology can prepare you for a variety of related careers, such as a mental health counselor, rehabilitation or substance abuse counselor, psychological assistant, industrial-organizational psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or school counselor. A master's degree in psychology can also prepare you for doctoral study.
A Master of Science in Psychology program may allow you to specialize in areas such as leadership, family therapy, public administration, health psychology and organizational behavior. Most programs end with a thesis assignment that can take the form of a paper, a research study or a scientific review. Some schools might require you to pass a comprehensive final exam in place of a thesis.
Master's degree programs in psychology typically take 1-3 years to complete. Most programs require you to conduct fieldwork under the supervision of licensed psychologists and faculty members. During these internships, you may assist with psychological studies by interviewing patients or compiling survey results.
|Specializations||Family therapy, health psychology, public administration, organization behavior, leadership|
|Learning Environment||Traditional classroom and online degree options are available|
|Common Courses||Child development, psychopathology, interviewing strategies, personality psychology, social psychology|
|Possible Careers||Mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, rehabilitation counselor|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||14% growth (for clinical, counseling and school psychologists)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$76,990 (for clinical, counseling and school psychologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Can I Earn A Master's Degree Online?
You can earn a M.S. in Psychology completely online. You can take tests online and turn in assignments via e-mail or an online content management system. Discussion boards allow you to communicate with other students at any time of the day or night. Your instructor may also be available via telephone during certain hours.
Lectures for online programs may use slides, notes, diagrams and audio recordings. Web conferencing allows you to connect with other students in real time. Technology requirements for online programs typically include speakers and a microphone for Web conferencing purposes.
What Will I Study?
In a Master of Science in Psychology program, you'll explore a wide range of psychology topics. Most courses require you to perform a great deal of reading and research. Particular attention is often paid to the impact of gender, culture, age and environment on human psychology and behavior. Common psychology classes you might take in a master's degree program include:
- Personality psychology
- Interviewing strategies
- Leadership in psychology
- Child development
- Social psychology
- Stress and post-traumatic counseling
- Technology in the psychology field
What Psychology Jobs Will Be Available to Me?
An M.S. in Psychology program prepares you to become a counselor or therapist in a variety of fields. You can work for a nonprofit organization, a corrections facility, a hospital or a private practice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), if you wish to become a licensed psychologist or a postsecondary teacher, you will want to continue your education with a doctoral program in psychology (www.bls.gov).
With a master's degree in psychology, you might pursue a career in marriage and family therapy. The BLS stated that marriage and family therapists earned an average annual salary of $54,150 in 2018. You can also become a mental health counselor with your M.S. in Psychology; according to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors made a mean yearly wage of $47,920 in 2018. Rehabilitation and substance abuse counseling positions are another option with a master's degree in psychology. The BLS stated that rehabilitation counselors earned a mean annual wage of $39,930 in 2018.
The BLS reported that jobs for marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors were predicted to increase 23% from 2016-2026, which was faster than the average growth for all jobs. According to the BLS, licensure is required by most states for all counselor positions. To meet most states' licensing requirements, you typically must earn a master's degree, perform supervised clinical work, pass an examination, adhere to an ethical code and take yearly continuing education courses.