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Psychology Professor: Degree & Requirements

If you are interested in becoming a psychology professor, read on to learn about education requirements and job duties for college and university psychology professors to discover if this is the career for you.

Career Information at a Glance

Psychology professors work in colleges and universities teaching students. They also participate in scholarly activities, such as undertaking research and publishing journal articles. Have a look at the table below, which outlines the education requirements for psychology professors as well as the key skills required.

Degree Required Master's degree at minimum; doctoral degree in psychology recommended
Education Field of Study Psychology, sociology, counseling
Key Skills Interpersonal, speaking, writing, critical-thinking
Job Growth (2018-2028) 12% (postsecondary psychology teachers)*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $76,710 (postsecondary psychology teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Psychology Professors Do?

Psychology professors work at colleges and universities teaching students various aspects of psychology, including educational, behavioral and developmental.

A psychology professor in a junior college will most likely be delivering introductory-level courses in psychology as well as research methods and statistics classes and courses in their area of expertise. They could also be teaching in closely related degree areas, such as social work.

A psychology professor at a 4-year school is likely to teach both undergraduate and graduate classes. Undergraduate classes can consist of large lectures where students are provided with an overview of different psychological debates and theories. Teaching graduate students would involve helping them gain advanced degrees in their chosen profession, such as counseling, psychiatry or clinical psychology. In addition to teaching, it is likely that these professors will work on their own research, from collecting data to presenting at conferences, as well as publish their research in journal articles or books.

What Are the Education Requirements?

To teach psychology in a junior college, it is a necessity to have a master's or advanced degree. This is likely to be in psychology or a closely related subject, such as sociology or counseling. Due to competition for jobs, however, it is common for most college or university psychology professors to have a PhD or to be hired as tenure-track teachers who are working toward that degree.

How Much Might I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for postsecondary psychology teachers was $76,710 as of May 2018. The majority of postsecondary teachers had an annual salary between $39,760 and $175,110. The institutions with the highest pay for postsecondary junior colleges; local, and colleges, universities, and professional schools; state.

What Is the Job Growth?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the number of postsecondary teachers in general will increase by 11% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than average. The expected growth rate for those teaching psychology is 12% during that same span of time. Although growth should be good, many of these jobs are part-time positions, with competition for the full-time, tenure-track spots expected to be very strong.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a PhD in psychology, you could go into a more hands-on role as a clinical, counseling or behavioral psychologist. These roles would involve working with patients, but similar to being a professor, could involve work on research studies.

Another related career is a sociologist. Sociologists study society and social behavior. Sociologists generally need a master's degree and a good understanding of research methods and statistical analysis to carry out research.