10 career options for master’s in psychology graduates

June 9, 2015

Psychology, in its simplest form, is the study of how and why people do what they do.

But this field is more than clinical observations and one-on-one therapy (requirements include a doctoral degree and state licensure). Professionals with a master’s in psychology have a wide range of careers to choose from.

Here are 10 areas to consider that require a master’s in psychology.

Research? practice? or both?

Professionals who study psychology are trained as scientists, and many of them continue to employ scientific methodologies conducting research of their own. Others work on applying the insights from their training in practical applications for individuals or groups such as counseling. Still others work both as researchers and practitioners, as noted by the American Psychological Association.

As researchers, professionals in the field may be studying such areas as:

  • Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology. Looking at how the mind perceives reality, remembers, and makes decisions. As the population in the U.S. ages, facets of diseases such as Alzheimer’s may be understood through cognitive and perceptual psychology research.
  • Developmental Psychology. Taking into account such things as peer pressure and how youth react and interact as they grow, this area of psychology studies how the mind matures and changes from childhood through old age.
  • Engineering Psychology. Identified as a postgrad growth area, this field looks at how people interact with machines, tasks, and environments.
  • Neuropsychology. With nearly 2 million people sustaining brain injuries each year in the U.S., there is a heightened demand for neuropsychology, which provides evaluation and treatment of patients suffering traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or even dementia.
  • Social Psychology. Studying how an individual is affected by interactions with other human beings. For example, the impact of technology on our social interactions.

It’s important to note that according to APA policy and licensing laws, the term “psychologist” is reserved for people who have a doctoral degree. However, as practitioners, professionals with a Master’s in Psychology may practice in specialized areas such as:

  • Community Psychology. Helping members of a community cope with events or issues affecting them, such as recovering from devastating storms or addressing neighborhood crime.
  • Forensic Psychology. Working in the legal system on such matters as child custody or sentencing of convicted criminals.
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Designing workplace environments that increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
  • Rehabilitation. Aiding stroke victims or people with other debilitating illnesses or developmental disabilities.
  • Sport Psychology. Working with athletes to reach their potential by overcoming mental barriers interfering with performance.

Even within these areas, there is room to be both a researcher and a practitioner. For example, neuropsychology specialists can help individuals recovering from brain injuries as well as research how diseases can affect emotions and behavior.

Where practitioners in psychology work

Psychology professionals with a master’s degree typically work under the supervision of psychologists. According to the American Psychological Association, “most master’s degrees in psychology are awarded in clinical, counseling, and I/O psychology,” but there are many industries that employ psychology professionals.

Specific job locations for individuals with a psychology master’s often include clinical settings (such as clinical social workers), schools, industry, and government. Positions that require data analysis, personnel issues, measurement and testing, are typically held by those with a master’s in psychology.

Capella University offers a Master of Science in Psychology and Master of Science in Clinical Psychology.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs.

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