As a result of doing the research for this article, I again familiarized myself with just how confusing it is to figure out how to find the right graduate program. Especially because it seems that new degrees are being generated by the second leaving people saying, “what, even is that??” What I’m trying to say is that I feel your pain. In conjunction with doing your own exhaustive literature review, here’s some information that might be helpful. Good luck!
Similar to a B.A. or a B.S., the M.A. degree typically indicates a stronger liberal arts focus, while an M.S. indicates a stronger concentration on research and the sciences. According to the about education website, some schools offer a terminal degree, designed to prepare graduates for professional practice in their specialty area. This means that depending on the school, one might be able to select a research or a clinical tract.
Check with the school you are applying to; application requirements will vary depending on the school. Typically, you will need:
It is strongly advised that you check with the graduate program coordinator to be certain that all courses taken fulfill prerequisite and credit requirements. It is also very important that you adhere to the application process and deadlines of the graduate schools which should be readily available on a school’s website.
It typically takes between two to three years of full-time study to complete a master’s degree in psychology. Some schools have greater flexibility with completing the degree in that time frame. Most master’s degree programs in psychology require 33 credits of coursework.
Program requirements are very specific to the school and also to the student’s area of study. According to the study.com website, psychology courses can be separated into: basic psychology, personality, social psychology and biological psychology. Program requirements might include the following: child psychology, personality disorders, neuropsychology and memory, behavior therapy, social psychology and pathology. Focus again depends on if you are completing a more generalist degree or if you are able to select a terminal degree to become more specialized in one area. An M.S. in psychology would require more research type courses while an M.A. might require more classes in human behavior or psychopathology.
Internship length depends on the school. It is advisable to pursue an internship, particularly if one is planning to go on for her doctorate.
Writing a thesis is another variable. The applicant/student might have to choose between a thesis and non-thesis option. It is generally thought that writing a thesis is particularly beneficial if one is pursuing a doctoral degree. A non-thesis option might be more optimal for students looking to immediate begin counseling or clinical work.
The cost of the degree depends on the school however a decent ballpark figure is between $25,000 and $30,000 dollars for a two-year program.
Most jobs are likely to be in areas of mental health services, government agencies and business fields (marketing, human resources, etc). Potential job titles might include: social services manager, drug and alcohol specialty, behavioral counselor, child protection worker, human resources manager, etc. You can expect to start out between $38,000-and $58,000 a year. Jobs in the business sector often pay more. The psychology field of industrial-organization is predicted to grow up to 35% in the next five years. Traditional psychology positions as well as school counselors and clinical psychologist positions are predicted to grow 22% in the next ten years, particularly in the New York area.
Different sites say different things about job opportunities post master’s degree. One cannot be a therapist with a master’s in psychology. It is also pretty unlikely that one will be able to teach, as those jobs are quite competitive and often given to those with doctoral degrees.
Master’s degrees in psychology greatly help pave the way for a doctoral degree in psychology. Also, with a master’s degree in psychology, one could go on to complete course work to be a board certified behavior analyst or BCBA. A BCBA works to correct challenging behavior. A large focus on this work is on collecting and examining data on behaviors.
Two years of full time study, three years of part-time study (going through the summers). Some schools are most flexible so the length of time can vary widely.
Similar to a master’s in psychology, some students might be able to select a tract for either a more researched based program or a more clinical based program, Fordham University and New York University both offer this, for example. Also similar to a master’s in psychology, a master’s in social work will include classes on psychopathology, human behavior, and clinical assessment. Other program requirements include classes on: research design and study methods, social welfare and policy and often, grant writing classes.
The curriculum often offers a spectrum of classes that vary between being more micro-macro in scope. A more micro class might teach the how-tos of engaging a new client, whereas a macro class will be focused on community organizing, grant writing or policy.
A student might be able to select between writing a thesis or a non-thesis option. Personally, a thesis was not a requirement to graduate my social work program. Instead, all of the students were asked to write a grant for their agency.
A huge part of the social work education takes place in the “field.” At your University, you will have a field liaison and at your assignment or internship, you will have a field coordinator or supervisor. You will receive evaluations on your performance at your field placement. Typically the first year field placement is 18 hours per week. The second year field placement is about 24 hours per week. Each school does it differently. Sometimes field placements last an entire school year, sometimes only a semester. Again, it depends on the school.
The cost of an MSW certainly varies. However the average cost of a two-year MSW program from a sampling of 10 American universities was just over $35,000. Noteworthy is that master’s programs are generally better positioned to offer financial assistance to students than undergraduate programs, with some programs offering up to 90 percent tuition remission.
With a master’s in social work but without a license, your options are more limited. Many social workers become case managers at agencies. Social workers can also become probation officers, work in child protection and permanency centers, become drug and alcohol counselors, or work in the business sector in quality assurance or human resources. Other options include going into community organization, research or policy, particularly if you choose a research tract in your graduate program.
A licensed social worker can only see clients for therapy under the guidance and supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. To become a licensed social worker, an MSW must graduate with a graduate degree in social work, pass a licensure exam and then file all necessary paperwork with the state to obtain a copy of her license.
As a licensed clinical social worker you can provide individual, group, family and couples therapy and you can have your own private practice which means that you can practice without supervision. Noteworthy is that any mental health professional should always have supervision and strictly follow the code of ethics for their specific field. To become a licensed clinical social worker you must: pass a second exam, prove that you completed 1,950 hours of face to face time with clients, prove that this time was supervised by a licensed clinical social worker via documentation, and complete hours in no less than two years but no greater than three years
It’s also pretty unlikely that you will be able to teach social work courses, again similar to receiving a master’s in psychology. Usually teaching jobs are rewarded to those with doctorates, still, though rare, it’s possible to teach as an adjunct professor.
You might be able to get a teaching job as an adjunct professor but again these jobs are usually rewarded to professionals with their doctorates.
A master’s in social work might prime you nicely for a Doctorate in Social Work or for law school. An MSW could also complete additional course work and supervision hours to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA, as previously mentioned for those with a master’s in psychology.
A PsyD program means that you are getting your doctorate in psychology as opposed to getting a doctorate in philosophy with psychology being your area of study. A PsyD specifically prepares students for practicing psychology (Tartakovsky, 2013).
PsyD and PhD programs in clinical psychology are notoriously challenging to get into. Like all programs, application requirements are contingent on the specific school, however, here is some sample information taken from Rutgers University’s application requirements:
Median range to complete a PsyD program is six years, however, it could take more than seven years to complete. This figure shows up frequently on university sites across the board.
A first year worth of course titles might look something like this: Analytic foundations, learning theory & cognitive behavioral foundations, adult psychopathology, clinical interviewing & assessment, supervision & professional development, general clinical, practicum, elective, systems theory and analysis, cognitive assessment, child psychopathology, supervision and professional development, general clinic, and practicum. A practicum is a part-time internship in which a doctoral student practices psychology under a supervisor.
The earlier years of a PsyD program are heavier on the course work. As time progresses, the focus of this degree shifts to a rigorous clinical internship and to the writing of a dissertation. Many PsyD programs have courses with keep students on track with the writing of their dissertations. An intensive clinical internship typically happens toward the end of the degree program and usually lasts at least one year. At the end of the internship, students are now ready to sit for state and national exams. Once a student completes their internship and passes the exams, they are now considered a licensed psychologist.
Somewhere along the way, on a message board, I read that these programs are often 30,000+ per year. On another website, the cost was broken down per year but only included up to four years with on year of internship, making it five years. The grand total in this scenario was roughly $140,000. I think it’s safe to estimate that this degree would likely cost between $150,000-$190,000.00 when all is said and done, depending on the length of time required to complete the program.
Data shows that a PsyD program tends to be more expensive than a PhD program
Many reputable university sites publish alumni employment activities. Should you receive your PsyD, you can expect a job in any of the following areas: supervision, teaching, research, psychotherapy, administration, assessment and consultation. Roughly 80% of graduates find themselves providing psychotherapy or in direct practice with clients, however, there is clearly room to pursue other avenues. Many schools offering PsyD programs also offer a strong research component.
A PhD program is typically more research based and might better prepare you for a career in academia so if you are looking to be on a tenure track at a university, this is the option for you! This being said, there is more overlap in PsyD and PhD programs now than in years passed. Almost all of the psychologists that I’ve worked with in a clinical setting have had their PhD in psychology.
It takes approximately four to seven years to complete a PhD in psychology. However, time to complete the program may exceed seven years, especially when factoring in supervised internships.
A first year worth of course titles could include: principles of learning, physiological basis of behavior, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, psychology of social behavior, theories of personality, child development, foundations of psychopathology, and affective neuroscience.
Often on the cheaper end of what a PsyD degree might cost but still approximately $30,000 + per year with a ballpark figure around $160,000.
Outcomes are pretty much the same for a PhD as they are for a PsyD. One can certainly have a private practice as a PhD/licensed psychologist. Other job titles include: supervisor, professor, consultant, researcher or administrator.
Clearly there is a lot of information here to think about. If you are unsure of what the best fit for you is, many sites recommend applying to several different types of programs and then going in person, or requesting an introductory interview to feel the school out and to see if it’s the right fit. Because salaries can vary so widely, depending on where you are living and the work you are doing, it is also worth it to do your own quick search to see what mental health professionals, therapists, or researchers make in your area. It’s a highly involved process to apply to a psych degree program, but it’s definitely worth the work to ensure an optimal fit.