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What steps do I actually have to take in order to get a master's degree?

No one really ever talks to me about college and now it's getting closer and I have no clue what to do.. I want to get my master's degree in psychology but I don't know if I have to earn a bachelor's first then I can get a master's by adding two additional years.. I guess no one has ever explained it to me all that well. Also, what is a major? #college #college-major #masters #degrees

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Brett’s Answer

Hi Brooke,

If you're in high school and thinking about graduate school already - good for you!

For the most part, students will go to school for a 4-year degree (bachelors) prior to taking graduate classes. The "standard" program for getting a masters degree is 4 years of undergraduate (bachelors), then 2 years of graduate (masters) classes.

As far as what a "major" is, that's the specific subject you study in school. In college, everyone takes some basic (or "core") classes, then you also take specialized classes in your major. When you graduate, your degree will have your major on it, and you will know a lot about the subject of your major.


This is great information. So in undergraduate you would major in psychology and then return to get your masters in the same field of study. Anita Lawrence, PharmD

To add to this, in certain universities Seniors are allowed to take classes for Graduate Credit and that way a Master's degree can be earned in addition to Bachelor's in a timespan of 5 years total instead of 4+2. Mehul Azad

thank you for the great info Justin S.

thank you so much never thought of that !! Garrett A.

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Brooke,

Are you thinking about earning a master's degree in psychology? A master's degree can open up a whole new world of career opportunities, but you should start by exploring some frequently asked questions about the degree in order to determine if it is the right educational choice for you:

  • A master's degree in psychology is a graduate level-degree that generally involves two to three years of study beyond the undergraduate degree. The two most common types of psychology master's degrees are the Master of Arts (M.A.) and the Master of Science (M.S.).

  • An M.A. degree may indicate a stronger liberal arts focus, while an M.S. may indicate a stronger concentration on research and the sciences. The type of degree offered depends upon the school and program, however, since the academic requirements are often very similar.

  • Some master's programs in psychology offer what is known as a terminal degree. This type of degree is designed to prepare graduates for professional practice in their specialty area. In other cases, a master's degree may serve as preparation for further study at the doctoral-level.

  • Specific course requirements can vary considerably, so take a careful look at the course outline of any program you are considering. You may also have to choose between a thesis and non-thesis option.

  • Completing a thesis is a good choice if you are interested in further graduate study, while the non-thesis alternative might be ideal if you are more interested entering the workforce immediately after graduation.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Psychology?

While having a master's degree means you'll find more job opportunities than you will at the bachelor's level, job options are still limited if you are interested in entering the field of professional psychology.

A terminal master's program, however, does open the door to entry level jobs in fields such as mental health, industrial-organizational psychology and forensic psychology.

How Do You Earn a Master's Degree in Psychology?

If you are interested in pursuing a master's degree in psychology, it pays to start planning early. Take a look at the requirements of a few programs you are considering, and then be sure to schedule all of the pre-requisite courses during your years of undergraduate study.

Before you apply to a master's program, you may also be required to take the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE. In addition to taking the main test, you might also need to take the GRE Psychology Subject Test.

Once you've been admitted to a master's program, make a course schedule that outlines all of the courses you plan to take. Take note of the required courses, and check out your school's class offering schedule.

What Type of Master's Degree Should You Earn?

While there are generalist programs available, many students elect to focus on a particular specialty area. Some of the different types of master's programs available include:

  • M.A. or M.S. in Experimental Psychology

  • M.A. or M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

  • M.A. or M.S. in Forensic Psychology

  • M.A. or M.S. in Clinical Psychology

  • M.A. or M.S. in Social Psychology

  • M.A. or M.S. in Child Development

In: http://psychology.about.com/od/psychologygradschool/a/masters-degree-in-psychology.htm

Forensic Psychology Master Programs | Forensic Psychology Schools:

Considering a Forensic Psychology Master's Program? A masters in forensic psychology degree could be tailored towards professionals already working in law enforcement, corrections, children's services, or other social services agencies, while others are designed for students just entering the field. Depending on their backgrounds and future plans, students should pick master's programs that best suit their needs.

There are two primary tracks in forensic psychology masters programs: licensure and non-licensure. While some forensic psychology master's programs prepare students for state-licensure and certification, others do not.

In addition, some forensic psychology master's programs prepare students for entry into PhD programs while others do not. Therefore, it is important to understand your future goals related to becoming a forensic psychologist prior to enrolling in a program, so that you can use your program to prepare for your career or future training.

Schools typically require students in forensic psychology master's programs to complete 32 to 45 credits of coursework and three to six credits of a supervised training and/or research project. It typically takes two to three years to earn a master's in forensic psychology, and five to seven years to complete a PhD.

The list with the schools that offer M D in Forensic Psychology, you can have in:


Best of Luck for you!!

Very thorough and detailed information. Anita Lawrence, PharmD

Thank you!!!!!!!! Garrett A.

thank you! Justin S.

I am considering an M.S in health psychology. I have looked up possible programs and like that it offers a biopsychosocial model. However, it is not a clinical degree and it is online. How can I find a job having a masters that doesn't have a clinical specification? Martha A.

You can consider take a job in Educational Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations and/or Penitentiary Institutions. Daniela Silva

Most master degrees in Psychology requires you to work under or be supervised by a Ph.D., APA certified psychologist. As far as taking a job in educational institutions, you must have a master degree and certified as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychologist or LSSP in order to work alone without supervision. This will be explained to you by your state's licensing agency. Kelly Reed

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Tamela’s Answer

One of the factors you should evaluate as far as getting a master's in psychology is what do you want to do with the degree? There are various avenues you may want to take and are available, but I highly suggest you research them and or talk to someone who has been hired in psychology. From my personal perspective, I actually wanted to major in psychiatry and psychology when I was in high school. After further rsearch on how many years I'd have to be in college and some deep reflection on my strengths, I decided that I wanted to be a school counselor. I did have to have to obtain a masters degree and certification to do so, but with my masters alone I could have ventured into other avenues of my profession given my experience. With psychology, you will definelty need a masters to do anything related to the field to find employment ( for example, my cousin is majored in psychology and works as an academic advisor at a junior college), but again you'll need to figure out what you ultimately what to do with psychology to make the best decision on how much school you'll need to have to achieve such a goal. By the way, some programs do allow you to skip your Bachelors and work on your masters, but it depends on individual schools. That will require research on your part to find out as well. Hope this helps Brooke!

thank you !!! Justin S.

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Regina’s Answer

Hello Brooke,

I think a response to your question requires a discussion. I fully understand this process having gone through it twice. Let me know if you would like to chat about this further. I can call you directly if you would like.

Hi Regina. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but for student safety reasons we ask that all advising take place on this web platform and not offline. We coach students not to put their contact information on the internet and ask the same of the volunteers actually. Do you think it would be possible to share your advice as an answer here on the site so Brooke and other students could benefit from it? Jared Chung BACKER

Hi Brooke, I see many great responses to your questions below. However, reviewing your question again, wanted to know if you needed guidance on how to prepare for college entrance. I.e, SAT test, Financial Aid process, etc. Regina Del Barco

thank you!!! Justin S.

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Marybeth’s Answer

Yes, you need to earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree before starting a Master’s degree program. Typically, you will complete a BS/BA in 4 years. The Master’s degree (if you are a full-time student) is typically completed in two years.
Since you are just embarking on your BA/BS studies, I would suggest that, at least for the first two years of your degree program, you focus on your studies, earn excellent grades, strongly consider the work you would like to pursue and select your major course of study. From there, you will easily be able to identify your Master’s degree preferences.

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Gregory’s Answer

You MUST get your BS or BA first. Then a masters degree, Plan ahead for classes, some can be substituted. Most schools require 3.7 GPA to get in the masters program.
Most tech. school credits do not transfer.

P. S. Learn to love researching information.

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Christopher’s Answer

That's great you're considering a career in Psychology. It is definitely a rewarding field. First, you must earn a Bachelor's degree (either a BA or a BS in Psychology or a related field, such as Sociology, Social Work or Counseling). After earning a Bachelor's degree, you have to apply to graduate school for a Master's degree (MA or MS). To do this, look up the schools that have graduate degree programs ih the area or areas of psychology you are interested in pursuing as a career. Next, carefully read the admissions requirements. This will tell you what the schools want you to submit to them to be considered for a spot in their program.

As far as careers, there are several options. For example, if you want to work with people or be a therapist, you could earn a master's degree in clinical psychology. You could also earn a master's in school psychology if you want to work in the school setting. However, if you decide to go the research route, you could earn a master's degree in general psychology, experimental psychology or social psychology as examples.

While you are going through your undergraduate experience, I would strongly suggest becoming involved with anything psychology related on your school's campus. It could be becoming a research assistant for a professor in his or her psych lab, volunteer at the school's counseling center or joining Psi Chi, which is the International Honor Society in Psychology. I would also strongly suggest forming relationships with your professors because some of them will be the people who have to write letters of recommendation for you to enter graduate school.

I hope this helps and good luck on your future career in psychology!