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Psychology Programs

Preparing and Applying for Graduate School in Psychology Video Series

Created by the APA, this series includes 12 videos outlining the process of applying to graduate programs including preparation, application, interview and admissions. Also includes anxity-reducing strategies for mastering each step.

Preparing and Applying for Graduate School in Psychology Video Series

APA Graduate Study Tool: How To Use It To Find Psych Grad Programs

APA Graduate Study:  Just psychology programs - meet with an advisor to learn how to access. This database has more detailed information on not only programs offered, but application details and deadlines, tuition, etc.

The main page allows many search options:

  • Quick search - use for a specific school
  • Advanced search - narrow search down by a factor like admissions requirements, tuition, programs offered
  • Browse By Institution - Gives a list of institution nams with links to their department listing
    • Browse By Area of Study - Index by specific field
    • Browse By State - Index by state 

Watch this video to learn how to utilize this tool and all its features! 


Master's Degree Options

Master’s degrees can be earned as either a stand-alone degree (terminal master’s), or as part of a doctoral program where you earn a master’s degree as part of your work on your thesis.  Individuals entering terminal master’s programs usually have one of two goals: either to gain extra training and credentials to enter a doctoral program or to acquire skills and knowledge to advance in a specific career or work environment.  Individuals with master’s degrees find employment in a wide variety of settings, including private business or government, schools, hospitals or mental health settings. When considering a master’s degree, you should find out for each program what career path its graduates pursue and how the program prepares them for that path.

Will a Master's Degree Get You Where You Want to Go? 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Many students who major in Psychology will go on to pursue a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW).  This degree is an academic and practice-based professional discipline that seeks to facilitate the welfare of communities, individuals, families, and groups. It works to promote cohesion, social change, development, and empowerment.  Social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance well-being.  It is underscored by theories of social sciences and guided by principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility. For student's who are interested in becoming a licensed clinician or working in community organizations with direct personal contact, without focusing on research, the Master's Degree in Social Work can be an ideal route.    

Masters in Psychology

Masters in Psychology programs can be used as terminal degree for those who are interested in entry-level jobs in fields such as mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology.  In other cases they are earned within a doctoral program or to prepare a student to apply for a doctoral program. A Masters in Psychology will prepare you to work in a wide variety of specialized areas within the field of psychology itself.  it is important to choose an area of specialization and determine whether you want to work in the clinical, educational, research, or business setting. There are masters in counseling psychology, masters in clinical psychology, sports psychology and forensic psychology masters programs to choose from

Master of Education (MEd) in Counseling

Like the M.A. or Counseling, the Master of Education in Counseling is offered through an institution's school of education. These programs take two years of graduate study to complete. Individuals with an M.Ed. may go on to work in academic settings as counselors, or they may choose to gain licensure to work in mental health counseling.

Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Counseling

Master's degrees in counseling are often offered through a university's school of education. These programs focus on therapies and behavioral modification techniques. Individuals with an M.A. or M.S. in counseling often work as school counselors or career counselors, but they may also be employed in private practices, mental health clinics or hospitals.

Doctoral Level Psychology Programs

Doctoral programs provide students with a greater depth of knowledge and skills in a specialized field of psychology. Students interested specifically in scientific research, including setting up experiments, collecting data, comparing experimental groups and learning statistical and analytical techniques, often apply to PhD programs. Some PhD programs, however, offer both training in providing psychological services and the production of new knowledge. Programs that offer the PsyD degree focus on the application of psychological science to provide a service to individuals or groups. When gathering information about particular programs, it is important that you understand what training and education the program provides in order to make a fully informed decision. 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is one of the highest level degrees you can earn in the field of Psychology.  PhDs in Psychology are offered in a variety of specialized fields of study with wide ranges in their area of focus and career intents. The American Psychological Association accredits graduate programs in three areas: clinical, counseling and school psychology. If you are interested in going into one of these specialty areas, be sure to choose a school that has received accreditation through the APA.  Applied PhD's include Industrial/Organizational, Sports Performance and Forensic along with many other options. Research Psychology PhD's are offered in almost every subfield such as cognitive psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology and experimental psychology. The level of research required during a program varies by field.  In all PhD programs you will be required to present a dissertation involving original research. With a PhD in Psychology, many career paths in Psychology are open to you.

Doctoral of Psychology Degree (PsyD)

The Doctorate of Psychology Degree (PsyD) is a relatively new offering which first came into being in the 1970s.  This degree is geared for those who are more interested in the practice of psychology and will have less emphasis on research and more focus on applied topics. The degree was started as an alternative to the traditional PhD and works well for those whose career interests are limited to applied practice of the profession. A PsyD degree will allow you to work and practice in almost all mental health fields.  The programs typically take 4-6 years to complete and not all are funded.  When you are researching PsyD programs, be sure that you are looking closely at whether they are APA accredited as well as what the internship match rate is for the program, both of which will impact your employability after you have graduated. 

Doctor of Education (EdD)

The Doctor of Education (EdD) degree is a doctoral degree given by a department of education. Many programs are focused on education and related areas; however, there are programs such as counseling psychology EdD's, which can be quite similar to PhD programs. EdD programs usually have a more practitioner-­oriented focus but still provide a strong background in research and theory, and in particularly in applied research. You can be eligible for an EdD for licensure as a psychologist if your program is APA accredited.  This degree can be seen as a mix of the PsyD and educational psychology PhD.