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Psychopharmacology Degree and Career Facts

Psychopharmacology degree programs are typically offered at the post-master's or post-doctoral levels, though individual courses are also available. Various medical professionals, including psychologists and nurses, may study psychopharmacology. Continue reading for more details about these degree programs, including courses you may take.

What You Need to Know

If you are a physician, psychologist or nurse, you may want to pursue a master's, post-master's or post-doctoral degree in psychopharmacology. Your program might include classes in assessing and diagnosing patients, chemical dependence and pain management.

Degrees Post-doctoral master's in clinical psychopharmacology or master's or post-master's degree programs in psychiatric and mental health nursing
Classes Neuroscience, neuroanatomy, biochemistry
Future Career Options Clinical psychologist, licensed mental health nurse

What Careers Involve Psychopharmacology?

Clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and neuroscience physicians all typically use some form of psychopharmacology in their work. Physicians who have completed a residency in mental health or pharmacology are able to prescribe psychotropic medication, and licensed mental health nurses are able to administer it. In some states, psychologists interested in prescribing medication need to demonstrate competency in psychopharmacology by earning a post-doctoral master's degree and passing a competency test.

What Kinds of Degrees Can I Earn?

You can find post-doctoral master's degree programs in clinical psychopharmacology at a select number of universities. Typically housed in psychology departments, these degree programs are designed for practicing psychologists and can take 18-24 months of full- or part-time study to complete.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Although courses in these programs may be available both online and on site, some programs also require extensive clinical practicums or supervised treatment sessions that must be completed in person. You can also find psychopharmacology courses in master's or post-master's degree programs in psychiatric and mental health nursing. Standalone online courses may be available at select universities.

How Should I Select a Program?

You may want to base your selection on which program is most fitting for your education level and career. For example, if you already have your doctoral degree in psychology and you are a practicing psychologist, a post-doctoral master's program in psychopharmacology may benefit you the most.

If you are interested in learning more about psychopharmacology as a physician, a standalone course may be more applicable. If you're a registered nurse interested in becoming an advanced practice nurse who can prescribe medication, you might pursue a master's degree in psychiatric and mental health nursing.

What Will I Learn?

Courses in clinical psychopharmacology programs focus on methods for diagnosing and assessing patients. Many programs rely on both case studies and the supervised treatment of patients for instruction. Other courses can include:

  • Clinical biochemistry
  • Human physiology and neuroanatomy
  • General pharmacology
  • Pain management
  • Analyzing the effects of treatment
  • Basic principles of common drugs
  • Chemical dependency
  • Ethical issues
  • Neuroscience