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Types of Psychology Graduate Programs

Alliant International University
Alliant
Alliant International University
Published 11/21/2022
8 minutes read
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What Are the Different Graduate Psychology Degree Programs Available?

Psychology is a wide-ranging field with numerous niches and specializations. However, a graduate degree may help you progress within your psychology career. Luckily, there are many degree programs to choose from, including Master’s, Ph.D., PsyD, and certificates. Within these degree programs, you’ll find various specializations designed to help you pursue your specific interests. 

If you have a bachelor’s degree and want to explore the available options out there for furthering your education, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the different types of psychology graduate programs and the benefits of continuing your studies. 

Masters Level Programs

You might've just received your bachelor's degree in general psychology and continuing education or just looking for a graduate psychology degree program. There are many options, including social psychology, organizational, and family psychology fields to pursue when looking to move up the psychology career ladder, and earning a master’s degree is one of them.

Four areas of specialization offered by psychology graduate programs may include:

  • MA in Clinical Counseling
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • MA in Organizational Psychology
  • MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Let’s dive into each of these programs in more detail.

MA in Clinical Counseling

If your goal is to work as a clinical mental health counselor, a master’s degree in clinical counseling may help prepare you for the licensing exam. You’ll be provided training in:

  • Diagnosing mental health challenges
  • Treating individuals and groups 
  • Guiding clients through mental health struggles

Upon completion of the program, you will be able to sit for the California Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) exam.1

MA in Marital and Family Therapy

For the student who wants to focus on helping families overcome difficulties and thrive, consider a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy. The coursework in this program will introduce you to:

  • Trauma and crisis intervention
  • Group and couple’s therapy
  • Legal and ethical practices
  • Family dynamics and diversity

You may also have the opportunity to hone your research and data assessment skills, which may benefit you should you decide to advance to the doctoral level of study in the future.

MA in Organizational Psychology

If you’re interested in working with organizations rather than individuals or families, then a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology might be for you. This program takes about one year to complete and may help students begin their careers within psychology. Community psychology can include working with organizations and also communities of the underprivileged, LGBTQ, etc.

Another advantage to earning an organizational psychology degree is that the skills you learn may be transferable to other industries and career opportunities.  

MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology

The MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology is a little different from the other degrees on this list because it’s a postdoctoral master’s program. A licensed clinical psychologist can complete this program to prepare themselves to prescribe prescription drugs to their clients. The program is offered completely online, making it more convenient for the actively practicing psychologist.

Doctorate Level Programs

All states require professionally licensed psychologists to hold a doctoral degree. For doctoral psychology graduate degree programs, you can choose from two different types:

  • Ph.D. – A Ph.D. program introduces you to a career in teaching or scientific research. The focus will be on research methods rather than clinical practice. Ph.D. programs in psychology fields take between 5 to 8 years to complete.
  • PsyD – Students interested in clinical practice should consider pursuing a PsyD. This doctoral degree focuses on clinical assessment and application of the best treatment techniques. Most students can complete a PsyD program in somewhere between 4 to 6 years.

The best option for you depends on your goals: do you want to work in a clinical setting or perform research? You can explore more on the differences between a PsyD vs. PhD program to find what's right for you.

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Whether you want to teach at the university level or work with communities, human behavior analysis, and mental health, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology may help you achieve that goal. The highlights of this Ph.D. program include:

  • Clinical training opportunities
  • Required doctoral internship
  • Possibility of teaching assistantships if desired
  • Accreditation by the American Psychological Association

You’ll complete the program with expertise in mental health and how to apply best practices in a clinical setting.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology

If your interests are geared toward daily clinical practice, then a PsyD in Clinical Psychology may be right for you. Coursework for this program includes:

  • Basics tenets of research, assessment, and ethics
  • Human development and personality
  • Aspects of behavior
  • A clinical internship

The clinical internship is a one-year full-time commitment during the third year of the program.

PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy

Earning a PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy may enable you to expand your expertise and patient treatment skills. You’ll by advance your level of education through courses such as:

  • Group Therapy
  • Parent and Child Therapy Techniques
  • Sex Therapy in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Social Basis of Behavior
  • Advanced Couple’s Therapy
  • Chemical Dependency in the Family
  • Individual and Family Life Cycle

Within the program, you’ll also earn client contact time that you can put towards your licensure.

Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

A Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology may makes you a valuable candidate for leadership and consulting positions across a variety of different industries. The program involves many approaches to teaching and learning, including:

  • Internships
  • Projects
  • Field Work
  • Applied Research

This varied approach to your education will help provide you with the tools you’ll need to work in industries such as:

  • Nonprofits
  • Government agencies
  • Private companies
  • Educational institutions 

If you’re looking for a degree that offers a significant level of flexibility, a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Development may meet your needs.

PsyD in Organization Development

Your previous business experience may pair perfectly with a PsyD in Organization Development. The focuses of a PsyD in Organization Development include: 

  • Efficiency 
  • Ethics
  • Cultural inclusion and diversity
  • Conflict management
  • Engagement
  • Research methodology
  • Coaching and mentoring techniques
  • Strategic approaches to team building

These skills are also transferable across many fields, which may help make you an attractive job candidate after graduation.

From social work and counseling psychology to mental health and cognitive psychology, the options of psychology graduate programs are plenty.  

Boost Your Credentials with Graduate Certificates

As a graduate student, finding a program and a graduate school that meets your interests and needs is important. Graduate certificates are an excellent way to boost your credentials and skills without the time commitment of a full degree program. These certifications can help you specialize in an area of interest:

  • Clinical Psychology, Doctoral Respecialization – This certificate is ideal for students who’ve already earned a doctorate in a different area of psychology but now want to specialize in clinical psychology. It’s able to be customized to meet your personal interests and needs. You’ll need to complete 60 credits to earn the certificate.
  • Certificate in LGBT Human Services and Mental Health – You can pair this 12 credit certificate with your studies to add a specialization to your credentials. The LGBT Human Services and Mental Health certificate focuses on the specific mental health needs of the LGBTQ community and prepares students to support members of that community. This is great for psychology students whose interests lie in community psychology.

These certificates may provide students with the skills they need to advance in their careers. 

What Are the Benefits of Furthering Your Education?

We know that earning a graduate degree is a challenge. It requires focus, support, and dedication. However, the benefits may be quite extensive and may include:

  • More employment opportunities – Many positions in both the public and private sectors require a master’s degree at a minimum. A doctoral-level degree may be beneficial when pursuing most clinical, counseling, or research-based positions.
  • Flexible career options – The skills you acquire in a graduate program in psychology may be easily transferable to many other fields. Excellent organization, communication, and critical thinking skills are highly attractive assets that you can add to your resume. 
  • Chance to make a difference – Most people go into psychology because they want to help others and make a difference in their communities. Improving your skill set and expanding your knowledge of psychology may give you more tools to help your clients.

Move Closer to Your Dream Career with Alliant International University.

In the field of Psychology, a graduate-level degree may aid your career advancement. When you complete an advanced degree program in psychology, you may be more attractive to clinics looking for psychology applicants. While completing a graduate program is important, finding the right graduate school can be hard.

At Alliant International University, we offer master’s, doctorate, and certificate programs in a wide variety of psychology-focused specializations. Many of our graduate degree programs in psychology are offered online. Check out the many options at Alliant today and get ready to move your career forward with the right psychology program for you.


Sources: 

  1. “Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.” California Board of Behavioral Sciences. 2021. https://www.bbs.ca.gov/applicants/lpcc.html. Accessed: December 29, 2021. 
  2. “Degrees in Psychology.” Psychology.org. 2021. https://www.psychology.org/degrees/. Accessed: December 29, 2021.
  3. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Psychologists.” BLS. 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists…. Accessed: December 29, 2021.

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