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Best Associate Degrees in Psychology

Oct 20, 2021

What Is an Associate of Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the human mind and its functions. The study of psychology has provided a new perspective on comfortable living and mental health over time. Students with an interest in psychology can start with an associate degree before pursuing something greater.

There are up to three different types of associate degrees that can be earned under psychology: Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science. Most associate degrees are offered through community colleges, and very rarely will a university have the same option. Most students will pursue an associate degree before transferring to a four-year university.

The Best Associate Degree Programs in Psychology

School Tuition* Placement Services Career Services Accepts
1 Moorpark College $4294 Yes Yes AP Credits
2 Santa Rosa Junior College $4510 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
3 Chabot College $14696 Yes Yes AP Credits
4 Golden West College $1420 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
5 Orange Coast College $3432 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
6 Copiah-Lincoln Community College $4322 Yes Yes AP Credits
7 Itasca Community College $4880 Yes Yes AP Credits
8 East Los Angeles College $9980 Yes Yes AP Credits
9 Diablo Valley College $4800 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
10 College of the Canyons $9750 Yes Yes AP Credits
11 College of San Mateo $13363 Yes Yes AP Credits
12 Northwest Vista College $1188 Yes Yes AP Credits
13 Napa Valley College $4697 Yes Yes AP Credits
14 West Valley College N/A No Yes N/A
15 Saddleback College $2764 Yes Yes AP Credits
16 Los Medanos College $1915 Yes Yes AP Credits
17 Glendale Community College $25000 No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
18 Mt San Antonio College $2068 Yes Yes AP Credits
19 Cuesta College $1561 No Yes AP Credits
20 Mission College $9846 Yes Yes AP Credits
21 Pasadena City College N/A Yes Yes AP Credits
22 Northern Wyoming Community College District $10446 No Yes AP Credits
23 Ventura College $7490 Yes Yes AP Credits
24 Casper College $3390 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
25 El Camino Community College District $6377 Yes Yes AP Credits
26 City College of San Francisco $3003 Yes Yes AP Credits
27 Santa Barbara City College $1144 Yes Yes AP Credits
28 Monterey Peninsula College $6910 No Yes N/A
29 Western Wyoming Community College $11314 Yes Yes AP Credits
30 Citrus College $1304 Yes Yes AP Credits
31 Northwest College $8300 No Yes AP Credits
32 Butte College $7950 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
33 Allan Hancock College $3458 Yes Yes AP Credits
34 Gavilan College $7809 No Yes AP Credits
35 Sierra College $5670 No Yes AP Credits
36 Dodge City Community College $4110 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
37 Garden City Community College $2070 No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
28 Allen County Community College $2904 No Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
39 Central Wyoming College $4800 No Yes AP Credits
40 Ferris State University $12376 Yes Yes AP Credits
41 College of Marin $3042 No Yes AP Credits
42 Paris Junior College $4188 No Yes AP Credits
43 Berkeley City College N/A No Yes AP Credits
44 Itawamba Community College $4800 Yes Yes AP Credits
45 Amarillo College $4556 Yes Yes AP Credits
46 Regent University $17220 Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits
47 Clovis Community College $2245 No Yes AP Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit Study.com's ranking methodology page.

*Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

What Is An Associate's Degree?

An associate's degree is a two-year degree that normally averages about 60 credits. As stated before, most students will earn an associate degree before applying to a four-year university. However, that is not the sole purpose of an associate degree. Students can work after receiving their associate degree as well.

A plus for students to consider is that associate degrees are arguably cheaper than a bachelor's degree. Community colleges are local, and students do not have to pay for room and board, just tuition and a parking pass. This can be a method for students to receive an education and save money.

On top of that, community colleges offer the ability to take both in-person and online courses within a degree program. It may serve beneficial for students that have full-time jobs or other obligations.

Admissions

Community college is not as competitive as the traditional university. When applying to a community college, the biggest factor is the student's state of residence. That does not mean that community colleges will take any kind of student. Students need to have their GED or diploma, have a decent ACT/SAT score, and fill out an application. This can vary depending on the state the student lives in.

Why an Associate's in Psychology?

There are multiple occupations within psychology, from counselor to psychiatrist. A degree in psychology can lead to numerous opportunities for interested students. An associate degree will be a steppingstone for students due to most psychology professions requiring a bachelor's degree or higher. The job outlook shows that there are over 3 million currently working in the field, and there is expected to be some double-digit growth for counselors and healthcare workers by 2029.

Associate's of Arts in Psychology and Associate's of Science in Psychology

These two associate programs are the most used degree programs when transferring to a four-year university. They host a broad array of classes that will teach students the foundation of psychology. Compared to an associate of science, there is less focus on the statistical and mathematical aspects of psychology in an associate of arts. The average amount of credits needed to finish a program is 60 credits.

The majority of the curriculum surrounding any associate degree will contribute to CORE courses. And about 20 hours of the program will focus on the major at hand. The courses that will focus on psychology will introduce students to the basics of psychology from human behavior to the anatomy of the brain. Here are some examples:

Common Courses A.A. in Psychology
"General Psychology" Will cover all the major topics within psychology. Students will have an understanding of the foundation of psychology.
"Human Sexuality" A social and behavioral science that focuses on sexual identity, cognitive and biological sexual development, and psychosexual behavior.
"Social Psychology" A look into the "self" and focusing on an individual's behaviors in a social environment. Students will analyze environment, growth, and influence over the self.
"Psychology of Adjustment" The study of an individual adjusting to a new environment. Students will learn how individuals develop coping mechanisms within fear, confusion, anxiety, and frustration along with psychotherapy.

As far as electives go, most of them will coincide with the CORE curriculum, such as social sciences, arts, and so forth. These electives are required and can hinder a student from completing their degree if not taken. Most of these electives are prerequisites for other courses, including courses within the student's major.

There may also be an internship at the end of the degree. Depending on the college, an internship may be offered in the form of a credit course.

Associates of Science in Psychology

An associate in science is a more mathematical and science-based degree program, but there are a few courses that students won't find in the previously listed degree program. This degree can also be used when applying to a four-year university. It is up to the student to decide which program they prefer.

When looking at the mathematical and science components of this degree, students will learn about research, statistics, and more. These courses will teach students how to apply research methods to psychological scenarios and so forth. Here are a few examples:

Common Courses A.S. in Psychology
"Statistics in Social Sciences" The use of statistics and communication in human research.
"Research Methods of Social Sciences" The incorporation of the fundamentals of research methods to analyze, understand, and collect data on ethical issues. This will allow students to be able to make sound research proposals as well.
"Applied Behavior Analysis" Students will study normal human behavior on different occasions. This course will look at the environment, punishment, stimulation, and how people raise their children.
"Theories of Personality" A course on personality being analyzed through a human perspective and both the cognitive and psychological standpoints.

When picking electives, the selection is slightly more focused on science than compared to the arts. Community colleges put emphasis on courses that can teach on human lifestyles, such as sociology. These courses may need a prerequisite completed in order to be taken as well. Colleges require this so that students will finish all that is necessary in order to transfer to a university.

Certificates and License in Psychology

There are certifications that can be earned under psychology. With that being said, most colleges offer students the option of a certificate (also known as a license) once they complete a graduate degree. When someone in psychology receives their license, it allows them to start their practice. It is very for an undergrad student to qualify or be able to receive a certificate. Colleges require the student to have at least a master's degree before applying for their certificate.

What Can You Do with an Associate's in Psychology?

As stated before, most psychology professions want students to have a minimum bachelor's degree. However, that does not mean that there aren't any available jobs for associate degrees. Psychology is the study of human behavior, meaning that an associate degree can land a student anywhere as long there is some form of human activity. While the jobs may not seem to fit under the umbrella of psychology, they require some basic understanding of the human mind. Here are some examples:

  • Home Care Aide: A home care aide will help patients with their daily tasks, housework, and check vitals. Some patients may also need assistance in grooming themselves or performing bodily tasks. In this case, those that are hiring home care aides prefer someone with at least an associate in psychology or human services. The patients may be impaired or have a handicap. "Glassdoor" is reporting that the average salary for this occupation is $25,538. The next step from a home care aide can be a nurse or caregiver.
  • Research Assistant: A research assistant can work with a government facility, hospital, or college. This is a great career for students with associate degrees trying to earn some work experience. An assistant will participate in clinical or help enforce protocols set in place by the facility. On a rare occasion, they will attend seminars, help give presentations and make reports. Their main goal is to collect data throughout the research. The average salary for this job, according to "Payscale", is $39,904 a year.
  • Psychiatric Technician: This job requires an associate degree or a secondary certificate. A technician's job is to work with patients that are undergoing rehabilitation. They will monitor patient's progress during their rehabilitation or help transfer them to other facilities. Along with the certificate or degree, there may be some additional training. "Payscale" is reporting the average salary for this job to be $15.06 an hour.

Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships

When trying to pay for college, the first thing a student should do is apply for FAFSA. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a way for students to receive money from the government. Depending on the income of the household, guardian, or student, they may receive enough money to cover the cost. The Pell Grant is offered through FAFSA and it covers a full academic year and does need to be paid back.

Students should also check in with the college of their choice to see if there are any specific scholarships available. There are scholarships that students can apply for if they meet the criteria. Another place students can apply for scholarships is Unigo. This website is free and allows students to apply for an unlimited number of scholarships. The only downside is that this website has many applicants.

Another great method is the APA. The American Psychology Association helps students find certain degrees based on specific criteria. They also offer fellowships or programs that help aid psychology students financially.

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