10+ Best Master’s Degrees for Psychology Grads
With the need for psychologists growing rapidly in the United States, more students and professionals are interested in earning a master’s degree in psychology. But there are many specialties and subspecialties in psychology.
You can obtain a better understanding of which master’s degree in psychology to earn with the information we compiled below about the different master’s degree options and fields of psychology (APA.org).
The 12 most popular master’s in psychology degrees are:
#1 Master’s in Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology is related to the treatment and assessment of serious mental illnesses, abnormal behavior and psychiatric problems. Clinical psychology integrates the treatment of difficult human problems with the complex science behind psychology. Clinical psychologists can work in private practice, for medical facilities, or even as an academic or researcher. Some lower level teaching positions in clinical psychology are available with a master’s but full professors require a Ph.D. in the subject.
Some clinical psychologists work with specific behaviors and mental and emotional issues. These can include relationship problems, work stress, post traumatic stress disorder and addiction problems. Others could focus on youth, families, racial matters, couples, ethnic groups, or the elderly. (APA.org).
#2 Master’s in Counseling Psychology
Counseling psychologists deal with how people and problems differ across the entire lifespan. They have a high level of respect for various human traits, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, religion and disability. Counseling psychologists perform counseling and psychotherapy; do scientific research on all age groups. Also, they learn that human behavior can be affected by many factors, such as physical problems, psychological issues and even spiritual questions.
SEE ALSO: How to Become a Counseling Psychologist
The practice of this field with a master’s degree helps people to enhance their mental and physical well being, reduce distress and anxiety, resolve personal crises and their ability to function in their lives.
Note that while both clinical and counseling psychologists practice similarly, counseling is different in that these professionals tend to focus on well being over the entire life, rather than clinical patients who are having more serious problems related to mental illness. (APA.org).
#3 Master’s in Child Psychology
If you like working with children, a master’s degree in child psychology could be the right choice. This area of psychology involves studying child behavior and how this behavior shapes the person, as well as how it is different from adult behavior. Child psychology could be combined with developmental psychology, which involves psychology across the lifespan from childhood to old age. Child psychologists may work in children’s hospitals, outpatient centers, private practice or educational environments.
SEE ALSO: How to Become a Child Psychologist
#4 Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
With a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology, you will study and assess group, individual and organizational dynamics in many different workplaces. I/O psychologists apply research to pinpoint solutions to issues that will enhance the performance of an organization and its employees.
This form of psychology focuses on the fact that the profitability of a company depends upon many things, such as a high quality product or service, a team that communicates well, motivated employees who are properly trained and selected for the jobs best for them. Success in the organization also relates to the ability of the business to resolve and identify workplace problems with workers and the organization.
I/O psychology studies such questions as:
- How are work decisions made?
- How effective is the communication between workers, and between them and the employer?
- How do work teams interact and collaborate?
By learning answers to these and related questions, company owners will understand when and where systems should be changed and dynamics altered to make the organization better. (APA.org).
#5 Master’s in Forensic Psychology
The field of forensic psychology has soared in popularity in recent times due to the attention it receives on television shows and in films. These psychologists play a vital role in the judicial and public safety systems here and around the world. Forensic psychologist hande evaluations and cases that affect our legal system at the federal, state and local levels. Their duties can range from child custody matters, to whether or not a defendant is competent to be tried for a criminal matter.
SEE ALSO: How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
Still others in this profession may help to choose police officers, and train EMTs and other first responders. You could give an expert opinion on whether a criminal suspect knew wrong from right when the crime occurred, or whether a youth is telling the truth in retelling an illegal act that occurred.
#6 Master’s in Engineering Psychology
A master’s in engineering psychology studies improving and enhancing technology, work environments and equipment to boost capabilities and human behavior. This is a field that is very much related to ergonomics; this is the science of designing and arranging things so that people can use them in a safe and efficient manner. An engineering psychologist wants to understand the limitations and capabilities of human behavior. They also study developing and adjusting existing systems to improve abilities and prevent errors and mistakes.
People with a master’s in engineering psychology make technology that people use every day more useful, reliable and safe. Some instances where their services can be vital are with:
- GPS systems
- Medical equipment
- Military hardware
- Aviation equipment
- Motor vehicles
- Traffic systems
Engineering psychology professionals can specialize in many subareas: aerospace, computer interaction, human performance, virtual reality, healthcare systems, product design, ergonomics and environmental safety. (VeryWellMind.com).
#7 Master’s in Educational Psychology
A master’s in educational psychology teaches you about how people learn, and includes such topics as learning outcomes, the instructional process, individual differences in how we learn, learning disabilities and gifted learners. Psychologists in this branch of psychology are most interested in how people learn and hang onto new information.
Educational psychology involves not merely the early childhood learning process and that in adolescence, but also involves the emotional, social and cognitive processes that we use in our learning processes in the whole lifespan. (VeryWellMind.com).
Common topics that educational psychologists study are:
- Educational technology
- Instructional design
- Special education
- Curriculum development
- Organizational learning
- Gifted learning
#8 Master’s in Social Psychology
A master’s degree in social psychology teaches you about how people think about, influence and relate to each other, and how those interactions affect issues such as prejudice, romantic attraction, friendship, aggression and persuasion. Social psychology also is studying how people affect and are affected by others in social and physical environments.
The work of these psychologists allows us to better understand how group behavior affects choices and actions. It also offers insight into how social perceptions affect how we interact with other people. Social psychologists study prejudice, implicit bias, bullying, criminal activity and substance abuse. They also perform research on social interactions and factors that have an influence on them, including group behavior, attitudes, leadership and public perceptions. (APA.org).
#9 Master’s in Developmental Psychology
A master’s in developmental psychology deals with changes in motivational, cognitive, and social functioning that occurs during the entire lifespan. Those who work in this field with a master’s degree try to understand how people adapt and learn over long periods of time.
A developmental psychologist could work in a hospital, school, or an assisted living facility. They frequently work with and study child behavior. (GoodTherapy.org).
Some of the major aspects of developmental psychology that you will cover in this program related to child development and developmental psychology are:
- Sensorimotor stage: The first two years of life where babies learn and experiment in the physical world
- Preoperational stage: Until about the age of 7. The child learns to engage in symbolic thinking to increase their understanding of many concepts
- Concrete operational stage: From age 7 to 12, where they usually show logical thinking
- Formal operational: Starts at age 11 and lasts through adulthood
#10 Master’s in Health Psychology
Health psychology studies how social, biological and psychological factors can influence illness and health. A master’s in health psychology will teach you how to use psychological science to improve health, wellness, prevent illness and improve our healthcare system.
This speciality of psychology also examines the motivations that get people to improve health and to prevent illnesses. Also, it looks at how social, psychological and biological factors affect the choices we make on health issues. These professionals study the many factors that influence our health, how we can recover from illnesses or deal with a chronic health problem.
Health psychologists are experts at the intersection of behavior and health. They are in higher demand today as part of 21st century healthcare delivery teams. (APA.org).
#11 Master’s in School Psychology
With a master’s in school psychology, you will be qualified to be a member of a school team that supports the ability of students to learn, as well as the ability of teachers to educate. They are experts in applying their expertise in mental health, behavior and learning to assist children to be a success in academics, in social settings, with their behavior and emotionally. (NASPOnline.org).
School psychologists receive rigorous training that address both psychological and educational issues. Some of the skills and knowledge you will obtain in a master’s program include:
- Data analysis and collection
- Monitoring student progress
- Risk factors and resilience
- Collaboration and consultation
- Interventions in mental health
- School instruction support
- Crisis preparation
- Diversity in learning and development
- Promote good peer relationships
- Build strong coping skills
School psychologists are important because all youth eventually face problems that relate to learning, social relationships, making decisions and managing emotions. A school psychologist is a well trained resource that ensures that each child can and will thrive in school, home and life generally.
#12 Master’s in Gerontology
A master’s in gerontology covers the study of old age and aging. It is different than geriatrics, which studies medical problems and issues related with aging. Gerontology looks at the biology of aging, what happens with our bodies as they get older physically and how bodies change over time.
You also will learn how aging affects our psychology and the issues that are associated with the elderly in psychology. Also, the master’s program studies how our society looks at aging and the societal roles that people who are aging play. This specialty also looks at aging from different perspectives, including literature, philosophy, history and religion. (PrincetonReview.com).
- What Is Educational Psychology? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-educational-psychology-2795157
- Who Are School Psychologists? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nasponline.org/about-school-psychology/who-are-school-psychologists
- Gerontology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.princetonreview.com/college-majors/124/gerontology
- Health Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/health/index.aspx
- Organizational Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/organizational/index.aspx
- Engineering Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/engineering-psychologist-2795650
- Psychology Professions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/index.aspx
- Clinical Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/clinical/index.aspx
- Developmental Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/developmental-psychology
- Social Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/social/education-training.aspx
- Developmental Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/developmental-psychology
- Counseling Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/action/science/counseling/index.aspx
- Engineering Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/engineering-psychologist-2795650