From academia and behavioral health to military and corrections, there are many ways psychology can help people.
In fact, mental health programs in hospitals, non-profits, governmental programs, and more have their origins in carefully researched data that psychology professionals have helped create.
Whether they’re designing studies, conducting research, or interpreting the final data, a master’s-level research psychology professional can inform best practices in psychology to tackle important issues like recidivism, PTSD, and depression.
Bethany Lohr, PhD, faculty chair of Capella University’s Clinical Psychology program, explains the benefits of an advanced degree in applied research for both clinical professionals and those following an academic path.
Q. First of all, what is Applied Research?
A. Applied Research is a scientific study within the field of Psychology that focuses on solving problems, curing illnesses, and innovating new technologies. Its main purpose is to conduct scientific research and apply it to real-world situations.
Q. What are some examples of careers in Applied Research?
A. There are a great many career paths for someone with a specialization in applied research to explore, such as a master’s level psychology professional, research associate, and research scientist, in addition to adjunct or part-time faculty or instructor.
Q. How do these roles leverage Applied Research?
A. That depends on the job, but an Applied Research specialization may be able to be used in any field where psychological research is an element.
Take research settings within hospitals, the military, mental health clinics, corrections, health care, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies. With a background in applied research, you know what needs to be done to design and lead a study, interpret findings, and advocate for programs based on those interpretations. Further, it helps make you the right person to lead training for these programs.
In the case of workforce development, applied research professionals know how to tailor questions to determine which strategies work best to motivate employees. For non-profits, applied research can help an organization analyze what kinds of prompts might inspire people to volunteer their time and skills to charities.
Q. What about governmental grants and legislation?
A. Applied Research is often a relevant credential for people who write government grants for mental health programs. An applied research background allows a government employee to skillfully interpret the massive data sets that the government often has on hand.
When there’s an opportunity to advocate for mental health legislation that relies on data to support it, a candidate with knowledge and skills in Applied Research is the one you want on the project.
Q. Beyond the workplace, who else is the Applied Research master’s for?
A. For academic careers, a Master’s in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Applied Research is your most direct route to a doctorate. The program provides coursework covering research skills and knowledge that meet many prerequisites for a PhD. Major topics in the program include research methodology, psychotherapy theories, tests and measurement, psychopathology, human development, ethical principles, and diversity.
Additionally, the Applied Research specialization puts a student in a perfect position to continue on to a clinical PsyD.
Q. Is this specialty just for academics and non-therapy professionals? Would therapists benefit from this knowledge as well?
A. It certainly doesn’t hurt a therapist to understand applied research, especially if they know they’ll want a doctoral degree down the road. If they want to continue in practice, this master’s can help them interpret psychology research that may inform their therapeutic treatment plans.
That said, the most immediate benefit goes to those seeking academic and professional applications beyond therapeutic practice.
In short, Applied Research is a smart choice for meaningful professional advancement, a great support for clinical practice, and a helpful launch pad for an academic career. It all depends on where you want to go.
Learn more about Capella’s master’s in clinical psychology, applied research degree program.