What Can You Do With a PhD in Social Psychology?

Jan 27, 2022

A degree in social psychology can set you up to better understand the way people think and behave. Knowing how people will act is a good way to tackle some of the issues and voids in communities and businesses.

Job Options for Social Psychology PhD Graduates

Job Title Median Salary (2020)* Job Growth (2020-2030)*
Psychology Professor $78,180 10%
Marriage and Family Therapist $51,340 16%
Marketing Manager $142,170 10%
Community Service Manager $69,600 15%
Political Scientist $125,350 9%
Psychologist $105,780 (psychologist, all other) 2% (psychologist, all other)
Mediator $66,130 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Descriptions

Psychology Professor

Professors at colleges and universities create and teach courses to post-high school students. With a PhD in social psychology, you can work as a psychology professor. As a psychology professor, you may teach courses including abnormal psychology, psychology or personality, and intro to psychology. You will create curriculum, grade papers, and lecture on the history and theories of psychology. Most colleges require professors to take research sabbaticals to conduct their own research in their fields as well.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Often, marriage and family therapists study marriage/ family therapy as a major, but having a strong understanding of people and relationships gained through earning a social psychologist degree will help prepare you for this career. As a therapist, you'll work with children, families, and those in romantic relationships to work through relationship issues. You'll also help them to move through their life and any life changes that may disrupt a normal routine.

Marketing Manager

The primary purpose of marketing is to target certain peoples to buy products or use services. Many companies choose to hire marketing managers who have experience studying the behaviors of people, like those with social psychologist degrees. These behaviors allow marketing managers to decide what influences buying decisions. As a marketing manager, you'll also help decide what type of market a product or service would work best for.

Community Service Manager

Community service managers are often in charge of counselors, social workers, and other community workers. As a community service manager, you will create programs that fill the needs of the community. You'll manage outreach and fundraising, as well as submit proposals for funding. Depending on the size of the community and organization, you may find more duties, including public speaking engagements, working with underprivileged or needy demographics, and collecting statistics on current programs. Though these positions generally only require a bachelor's or master's degree, a PhD in social psychology would prepare you to better research areas of need and create surveys or observational tests for what is needed.

Political Scientist

Understanding politics and the demographics of the represented peoples will allow you to assist politicians during the election process. A PhD in social psychology prepares you for intensive research on the ways people behave. By studying the behaviors of local communities, you can have the candidate address the issues and needs that the people expect from a representative. You will also collect and analyze population surveys. The typical position you would take on in politics is a political strategist, the one who plans the best approach for campaigns.


As a psychologist, or more specifically, a social psychologist, you will spend your time researching and performing tests or interviews. You will observe the way people act, create hypotheses, test for patterns, and write out the findings for journals and other research purposes. You should be able to identify and predict the behaviors of people by observing them, and help to treat unwanted behaviors and emotions. You may choose to focus on a specific age range or demographic. A PhD in social psychology sets you up for research skills and publishing opportunities.


Mediators are often thought of as those who work outside of courts to solve issues between two or more parties. Your primary goal will be to improve communication between the parties, discuss the issues, and try to find a reasonable solution for all. Understanding the way people think and behave is a good way to understand what angle should be taking during an interview or meeting. Sometimes, mediators work for specific companies, while others work for the government or courts.

Though the careers discussed in this article cross many industries, there is a common theme: understanding people. With a PhD in social psychology, you'll have the managerial and research skills to take on leadership roles and to help others in your career choice.

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