There are many specializations in psychology. The niche chosen will greatly impact the career of a professional. Some options include Experimental Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology and Child Development. Each of these master’s degrees are offered as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS). MS degrees are typically much more research-based. Professionals who know they want to go onto earn their PhD may be better off applying directly from undergraduate into a PhD program, however a master’s program can work as an in-between step for those unsure whether or not they want to pursue a doctorate.
Research and faculty publication greatly impacts the notoriety of a university’s psychology program. Students and professionals interested in graduate work should take time to read up in some of the most respected psychology publications and look for which universities are yielding research in studies and fields that are of interest to them.
- Educational Psychology: Students learn how cognitive, emotional and social processes are involved in student learning. They discuss current issues in student outcomes, instructional processes and learning disabilities.
- Clinical Psychology: Students learn to assess and treat a variety of mental illnesses and abnormal behaviors. Most programs require students in this specialization to complete rigorous residency and field training requirements that help develop practical clinical skills.
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology: Students in this specialization learn to conduct employee assessments in order to identify the best people for particular jobs within an organization. They focus on strategies to improve employee performance in order to promote business productivity.
- Developmental Psychology: Students will gain an understanding of the developmental processes that occur during the different stages of human life from infancy to old age.
- Social Psychology: Students in this area of psychology study how an individual acts within the context of a group. Topics covered in this type of concentration include social learning theory, social ecology, criminal behavior and attribution theory.
Length of Study
A master’s degree in psychology takes two to three years (about 65 quarter-credit hours) to complete.