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What's the most uselful graduate degree in psychology?

I'm working on a degree in psychology, but don't necessarily want to be a clinical psychologist. I'm fascinated by cognitive, social, and political psychology. Are careers realistically available in these areas, and if so what degree would be necessary? #psychology #politics #consulting #social-psychology #forensic-psychology #cognitive-psychology #cognition

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Patty’s Answer

Hi Cherie, great question! Many people find themselves in this very situation, as Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors, yet few of those actually go on to work in the traditional field of Psychology. I did a dual undergraduate major in Psychology and Sociology; like you, I've always been fascinated by how people relate to each other and the world around them. This isn't just a career interest for you, it's a character trait, and that's important to remember, because you can use those character traits in a really broad range of career opportunities.

While in college, I started volunteering in a Cognitive Psychology research lab on campus, and I really liked that. You can gain a much deeper understanding of the opportunities out there (and expand your network) by getting involved in research. After I graduated, I continued working in research as a project coordinator, and then moved to Germany and worked on a research program over there for a while. The nice thing about working in research is you tend to get opportunities to travel and experience the world, and a wide range of people. I decided that research wasn't the right fit for me, as I wanted a more fast-paced career and enjoy working on a more traditional team, rather than independently.

For anyone interested in working directly in the field of Cognitive Psychology but not in clinical Psychology, research may be a good avenue, however any position above a research assistant typically requires a PhD, and jobs can be hard to come by. For Social and Political Psychology, consider the world of nonprofit businesses; there are nonprofits out there for every passion, or you could start your own!

I ended up going to grad school and got a Masters degree in Organizational Development and Leadership. I like to say it's the Psychology version of an MBA; it focuses primarily on change management and business. I found it just as fascinating as Psychology, and now I have a Business degree and still get to put my Psychology degree to use every day. I work in project management technology consulting now, and I love it! Many doors opened to me with my graduate degree.

Reflect on what it is about your character that makes you love Psychology; empathy, curiosity, concern for others, etc. These are marketable traits in many many fields!

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Trisha’s Answer

Hi Cherie!

I, too, studied psychology in college and loved learning about cognitive and social psychology. I encourage you to network with your professors to learn about available internships to explore the different areas of psychology, social work and counseling. Internships are a great way to get your feet wet and start narrowing down the specifics of what you like and dislike. For example, I worked as a paraprofessional counselor in a summer treatment program for adolescents with Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD. Our focus was behavior modification and teaching the students general resources to help improve their school/home life. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about behavioral and learning disorders and I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do from that internship.

Some additional graduate degrees to research are a master of social work or a master in counseling, as well. All great options. Check out the links below to learn more!

https://www.mastersincounseling.org/ms-vs-ma-in-counseling-whats-the-difference.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Social_Work

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Samantha’s Answer

Hi Cherie! Psychology has a lot of different focus areas outside of just clinical psychology. Most psychology fields require at least a master's degree, but some require a Ph.D. as well (especially if you'd be interested in performing research or being a professor). A lot of these fields are growing quickly as businesses and government organizations realize the important role psychology has in their operations. Based on the interests you mentioned, it sounds like applied social psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, or human factors might be the most interesting to you. However, you should check out the websites listed below and decide what sounds the best for you! Good luck!

http://www.apa.org/action/careers/index.aspx
http://www.siop.org/studentdefault.aspx
http://www.apa.org/action/science/organizational/index.aspx
http://www.apa.org/action/science/human-factors/index.aspx
http://www.apa.org/action/science/social/index.aspx
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