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Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs

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Do you have an innate curiosity about human behavior as well as a strong desire to help others? If so, you may have the perfect combination for a successful career in psychology and/or counseling. Most positions in this field require some type of degree, though. Don’t let this stand in the way of you and your dreams! Instead, consider the many degrees available in psychology and counseling so that you can make an informed choice about your future.

Associates in Psychology and Counseling Degrees: Overview

For many, the first step towards a fulfilling career in psychology and counseling is an associates degree. These two-year programs require about 60 credit hours of coursework and provide students with a strong general education foundation as well as a solid introduction to the field of psychology/counseling. To earn this type of psychology and counseling degree, students may attend a community college or university on a full-time or part-time basis. Classes are often available during the evenings and weekends or even online to accommodate busy schedules. There are numerous different types of associates in counseling and psychology one can pursue. Some of these options are listed below:

Types of Degrees in Psychology and Counseling

  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
  • Associate of Applied Science in Psychology
  • Associate in Arts with an Emphasis in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology
  • Associate of Christian Counseling
  • Associate of Applied Science in Substance Use Disorder
  • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services Counseling

Counseling and Psychology Associates Degrees: Curriculum

The curriculum for associates degree programs in counseling and psychology will vary depending on the specific type of degree you choose to pursue. Even so, you can expect to take a combination of general education courses and classes in the psychology/counseling major. Some examples of these latter classes are listed below for your reference.

Associate of Psychology and Counseling Curriculum: Sample Course Titles

  • Psychology of Personality
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Child Psychology
  • Marriage and Family
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Transformational Psychology
  • Introduction to Research and Applied Statistics
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Personal Growth for Counselors
  • Treatment and Response Prevention

Bachelor’s in Counseling and Psychology Degree Programs: Overview

One of the most popular degree choices for those looking to break into the field is a bachelor’s in psychology and counseling. These four-year offerings provide the knowledge, skills, and qualifications students need to take on many entry-level positions in this occupational area and also provide a basis for further study in a graduate psychology/counseling program. There are several different types of baccalaureate programs in the field. Some of the more common options are listed below.

Types of Degrees in Counseling and Psychology

  • Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology: Christian Counseling
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology: Crisis Counseling
  • Bachelor of Science in Counseling
  • Bachelor of Science in Counseling: Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse

 

Psychology and Counseling Bachelor Degrees: Curriculum

Though it will vary from program to program, generally speaking, the curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and counseling is similar in format to that of an associates degree in the field. That is, it is comprised of two basic components: a general education component and a major-specific component. A bachelor’s degree program in counseling and psychology will inevitably be more academically rigorous than an associate’s degree program and will probe course topics in more depth. Below, we list some of the types of major-specific classes you might encounter in a bachelor’s program. Keep in mind that these are only examples, and the courses you take in your chosen baccalaureate program may differ significantly.

Bachelor of Counseling and Psychology Curriculum: Sample Course Titles

  • Foundations in Psychology
  • Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
  • Introduction to Counseling
  • Counseling and Advocacy with Diverse Populations
  • Developing a Psychology Perspective
  • Psychological Statistics
  • Lifespan Development
  • Interviewing and Counseling Skills
  • Psychological Foundations of Learning
  • Behavioral Modification
  • Issues of Christian Counseling
  • Acute Stress, Grief, and Trauma
  • Foundational Principles of Crisis Response
  • Case Management and Crisis Intervention Skills for Addiction and Substance Abuse Disorder
  • Trauma, Addiction, and Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Multicultural Counseling in A Diverse Society

Master’s Degrees in Psychology and Counseling: Overview

For individuals with a desire to take on high-level roles in the field of psychology and counseling—including those with an ambition to become a licensed therapist or counselor—a master’s degree in counseling and psychology is required. These intensive academic endeavors require two years of post-baccalaureate study and often encourage students to specialize in a certain area of the field. Though traditional on-campus master’s programs are still popular options, online master’s in psychology and counseling degrees are becoming more readily available. These distance learning options allow students to earn their master’s credentials while keeping their day jobs. As with other degree levels, there are different types of master’s in counseling/psychology for students to choose from. Some of these degree selections are listed below.

Types of Psychology and Counseling Master’s Degrees

  • Master’s in Counseling Psychology
  • Master of Science in Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Psychology
  • Master’s in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Master’s in Developmental Psychology
  • Master’s in Clinical Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Applied Psychology

Counseling and Psychology Master’s Programs: Curriculum

As we mentioned, most master’s programs in psychology and counseling enable students to become experts in a specific area of the field. Many programs do this by allowing students to choose a concentration. These concentrations will shape the students’ plan of study. Some sample concentration options are listed below.

Master’s in Counseling and Psychology: Concentrations

  • Health Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Life Coaching
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Sports Psychology
  • School Psychology
  • Positive Psychology
  • Community Psychology

In addition to courses in your chosen concentration, you should expect to take some research courses as you pursue your master’s in psychology and counseling as well. These classes will prepare you for analyzing current research in the field and for conducting your own research. We’ve listed some sample course titles below, but keep in mind that they are merely examples.

Psychology/Counseling Master’s Curriculum: Sample Course Titles

  • Counseling Theory and Techniques
  • Ethical and Legal Issues in Professional Psychology
  • Testing, Measurement, and Assessment
  • Applied Statistics for Psychology
  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Introduction to Clinical and Counseling Psychology
  • Theories of Personality Development
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology
  • Learning, Cognition, and Motivation
  • Consciousness and Cognition: Theories of the Mind
  • Contemporary Views of Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
  • Interpersonal Skills and Group Therapy
  • Cognitive Neuropsychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology

Doctor of Psychology and Counseling Programs: Overview

Students who desire to one day take on the most prestigious and rewarding careers in the mental health field are often driven to pursue the terminal degree in their area of expertise: a doctorate in psychology and counseling. Generally speaking, there are two types of doctoral degrees in the field: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Within these programs are multiple specialization and concentration options. Some of these are listed below:

Counseling and Psychology Doctoral Programs: Concentrations

  • Brain, Body, and Behavior
  • Cognition and Instruction
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Health Psychology
  • Sport Psychology
  • Industrial Psychology
  • Child and Adolescent Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology

Counseling and Psychology Doctorates: Curriculum

Doctoral programs in psychology and counseling tend to be very heavily research-based. Thus, in addition to concentration-specific courses and classes in professional psychology practice, students should expect to take courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods, experiment design, and data analysis. Some sample course titles are listed below. These are examples taken from actual doctoral degree programs in counseling and psychology.

Doctoral Programs in Psychology and Counseling Curriculum: Sample Course Titles

  • Crisis Response and Intervention Techniques
  • Psychology of Multicultural and Ethnic Diversity
  • Psychology of Leadership
  • Adult Psychopathology and Treatment
  • Humanistic, Transpersonal, and Existential Psychology
  • Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Theory
  • Human Learning and Cognition
  • Advanced Psychology of Marriage and Family Systems
  • Psychological Tests and Measurements
  • Community Psychology and Community Mental Health
  • Integrated Behavioral Health Practice in Primary Care
  • Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior
  • Social and Organizational Psychology
  • Advanced Cognitive-Behavioral Theories and Techniques
  • Treatment of Trauma and Abuse
  • Contemporary Practice of Professional Psychology
  • Counseling With Children and Families

Psychology/Counseling Degrees: Career Outlook, Jobs, and Salaries

Many of the careers requiring degrees in psychology and counseling are growing faster than average compared to all occupations. This is due, in large part, to the increased awareness of the need for mental health services across all ages, cultures, and socioeconomic classes.

Jobs in counseling and psychology are not only abundant; they’re also potentially lucrative as well. Below, we list some common occupations in the field alongside their mean annual wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: $43,300
  • Counselors, Social Workers, and Other Community and Social Service Specialists: $43,860
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: $48,790
  • School and Career Counselors: $55,410
  • Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $75,090
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologists: $87,100
  • Psychologists (All Other): $97,740

The information above is provided as reference only. It’s important to keep in mind that your exact salary with a psychology and counseling degree will vary depending on a number of different factors, including the specific type and level of your degree, your employer and job title, as well as any years of experience you have working in the field.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Degrees in Psychology and Counseling

The decision to pursue a degree in counseling and psychology is a big one, so it’s likely you’ll have some questions. We’ll address some of the most common concerns about these programs of study below. To satisfy your curiosities about specific psychology and counseling degree programs, it’s best to speak to an admissions counselor, however.

Q: Can I work full-time while pursuing a degree in counseling and psychology?

A: Yes. Many psychology and counseling degrees are designed for working professionals. Depending on your schedule, you may want to consider a part-time, evening, or online program so that you can balance your time between your studies and your day job. Hybrid programs may also be available. These offerings blend traditional classroom learning with distance learning technology to create convenient, yet engaging educational experiences.

Q: Is it possible to earn a psychology and counseling degree entirely online?

A: Absolutely. Though some counseling and psychology degrees are labeled hybrid offerings or have some minimal residency requirements, others can be completed entirely via distance learning technology. When considering an online program, be sure to check for course delivery options. Synchronous online courses require specific login times and can be less flexible than asynchronous options, which allow you to complete your coursework any time you want.

Q: Are degrees in counseling and psychology affordable?

A: They can be, but the cost of tuition for a psychology and counseling degree will vary from program to program. When considering the price tag on your degree, keep in mind that financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships may be available to help you foot the bill.

Q: What type of accreditation should I consider when choosing a counseling and psychology degree program?

A: Accreditation is an important factor to consider when selecting a degree program in psychology and counseling. There are two different types of accreditation you should consider: school-wide accreditation and program-specific accreditation. Many of the best psychology/counseling programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

 

Psychology and Counseling Rankings: