What Can I Do with a PhD in Social Psychology?

A Ph.D. in Social Psychology is a multi-functional, interdisciplinary degree. Cognitive, statistical, research and analytical skills provide graduates with a flexible and broad skill-set to carry forth into the job market. Schools offering Social Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options for a PhD in Social Psychology

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners oversee the management of land, determine land usage, as well as design and develop plans for communities. Advanced social science skills, like understanding how culture, values, and bias influence social behavior, can be influential in designing community plans that promote, and adapt to, urban population growth. The learned PhD level application of organizational theory is a beneficial skill set in managing projects and people and how to encourage individual and group motivation in completing goals.

Public Relations and Fundraising Manager

With technology's involvement in contemporary marketing practices, the exploratory advanced studies in statistics and quantitative analysis are useful tools in monitoring the reputation and public image of the PR's product, organization, group, or individual. The program's language and communication studies, and how they relate to perception and prejudice, may be beneficial to the fundraising and reputational management aspects of the job. In having hands-on research and analytics skills, graduates will be equipped to conduct and interpret research, and use analytical statics to predict successful target-audience marketing and promotion strategies.


Because economists gather and analyze data, doctorate studies level research, statistics, and quantitative analysis are applicable skills gained from a PhD in Social Psychology. Since economics also involves researching and understanding trends, advanced knowledge of statistics and understanding human and group motivation learned and practiced during course work is of great use.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Urban Regional Planner $73,050 11%
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager $114,800 8%
Economists $104,340 8%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*

Common Areas of Study in a PhD in Social Psychology

For those looking to go into research, marketing, counseling, or public relations, social psychology is an applicable branch of the social sciences that studies social interactions by aligning the theoretical, analytical, and sociological aspects of social psychology. The 4 to 5-years long PhD programs may require GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores in addition to a GPA of at least 3.0 for admittance, and students must be capable of graduate level work in sociology and/or psychology level research and courses such as the ones listed below.

Research Methods and Theory

In research courses, students develop a deeper understanding of core knowledge and skills in order to analyze and design research. Students gain additional knowledge about the research process and how theory applies to that process. Through various data collection methods (questionnaires, interviews, etc.) students may apply mixed-method, quantitative and qualitative research designs and data collection methods, and through such experiential work learn to better analyze and interpret data.

Social Psychology

By utilizing the methodologies of social psychology and examining issues with presiding research and writings on the subject, students apply social psychology concepts to the examination of biases and prejudices, relationships, attitudes, motivations, and other individual and group reactions and interactions. In this course, students may use experimental design and/or research findings to enhance their analysis. Students can use this knowledge in a variety of professional settings.

Statistical Methods

Research and theory are a strong part of social psychology programs. Students utilize methodologies like sampling, probability, graphs, and data analysis. In understanding and using these methods, students also examine the reliability and implications of results on within communities and within society at large. Technological applications may be utilized to gather, analyze, and store results.

Social Cognition

This coursework includes an orientation to social cognitive processes like social inference and attribution theory. How social cognition and the self are interrelated, and how social cognition influences personal memory may also be explored. Other key elements in cognitive processes that may be covered are psychological control, social schemata, heuristics, and social cognition biases.

Quantitative Reasoning and Psychology

Students go from developing core knowledge to building up to advanced, doctoral level knowledge and skills needed for designing and implementing quantitative research. Students use statistics, including statistical concepts and techniques, in their quantitative research to aid in problem solving. At this level, advanced statistical concepts and multivariate data analysis are used to tackle more complex social problems and research questions.

The study in the human psyche and how humans relate to and interact with one another demonstrate how a doctorate in social psychology can be beneficial in the job market because multiple sectors can profit from the applied knowledge and research skills graduates have to offer. Social, theoretical, and statistical methodologies, including motivations and effects on individuals, are applicable even in not so obvious career choices such as economics.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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