Master's Degrees in General Psychology: Program Summary

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

A master's degree in general psychology gives students a foundational knowledge in theory and practice and prepares them for a variety of careers. Applicants need a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree doesn't have to be in psychology, but students should have taken several courses in psychology along with courses in research and statistics. Most master's programs can be completed in two years or less.

Research is emphasized in these programs, and students gain experience in the field and in the lab. A thesis or a comprehensive exam is required, sometimes both. Graduates may qualify for licensing as mental health or behavioral counselors in many states. Others often work in research. Many students go on to seek doctoral degrees in psychology.

Master's Degree in General Psychology

Students who earn a master's degree in general psychology learn basic scientific theories, concepts and research. The programs enable students to explore social and emotional behavior along with cognitive and developmental psychology. Coursework includes topics that encompass the entire field of psychology. Other courses may assist in research, diagnosis and data collection. Along with cognition, organizational behavior, and psychological statistics, potential course topics include:

  • Methods of research
  • Violence within the family
  • Psychological trauma
  • Development of life span
  • Personality theories
  • Physiological psychology

Popular Career Options

A master's degree program in general psychology can prepare students for careers across the field and often include data collection, field research and theory application. Graduates who choose a career in a school or clinical setting are often led by a psychologist who has a doctorate. Some job options that require at least a master's degree in psychology include:

  • School psychologist
  • Counselor
  • Postsecondary teacher of psychology
  • Psychology research assistants and consultants

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

Psychologists and counselors usually need to be state-licensed in order to practice psychology. If graduates want to continue their education, they can apply to Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy programs. Their general psychology background may allow them to select an area of interest. For example, students may specialize in clinical psychology, counseling or industrial-organizational psychology.

Master's degrees in general psychology enable students to gain research-based knowledge and field experience that will later qualify them to become licensed psychologists or counselors. Graduates of this program may choose to pursue careers in the school or clinical setting or to continue to specialize by pursuing doctoral degree programs.

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