Psychology FAQ's

What can I do with an undergraduate psychology degree?

The real answer is: “It depends on what you do during your undergraduate training.” If you pursue the degree by only taking the course work (with no extra research or practice-based experiences), there are certain opportunities upon graduation. If, however, you build into your training some research and/or practice-oriented experiences, there will be additional opportunities.

How can I get research experience?


What graduate training follows a bachelor's degree?

Psychology graduates can pursue a variety of graduate training programs. Most graduates qualify for any of the programs described below (dependent on GPA, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores). Students should reflect on their choices carefully because each training program provides a very different outcome and career path. Specific questions about any of these can be brought to one of your faculty to discuss in more depth.

Psychology: Psychology master's programs are either research-oriented (Master of Science; M.S.) or clinically oriented (Master of Arts; M.A.). M.S. degrees prepare you for employment in research settings. M.A. degrees prepare you for clinical settings. In some programs, as an outcome of completing the program, you may be able to pursue a certification or license (depending on the state where you live).

Social Work: Social work programs (Master of Social Work; M.S.W) are not considered psychology degrees; however, graduates of these programs work in clinical settings and oftentimes perform similar functions as M.A. psychology graduates. Graduates of these programs sometimes pursue a doctoral degree in social work (DSW).

Counselor Education: Counselor education programs (Master of Education; M.Ed.) are not considered psychology degrees; however, graduates of these programs often perform counseling and psychotherapy in clinical settings (similar to M.A. psychology graduates). Graduates of these programs often pursue a license as a Licensed Practicing Counselor (LPC) and be found working in drug rehabilitation and in-patient psychiatric centers.

Doctoral degree training varies across subspecialty fields of psychology (clinical, counseling, social psychology, experimental, cognitive, developmental, etc.). Qualifications for doctoral training include a high GPA, research experience and/or clinical experience, solid letters of recommendation, high GRE scores, and a commitment to the profession. A prior master's degree is not necessarily a requirement to be qualified for a doctoral program.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): The Ph.D. is considered the highest degree possible in higher education, mostly because it requires a dissertation for completion. A Ph.D. is awarded in many fields, not just psychology. This training requires often 4-6 years of training, depending on the unique requirements of the program. For example, a Ph.D. in such areas as social, personality, experimental, development, and cognitive psychology can be completed in 4 years if there are no unforeseen delays. However, clinically-oriented fields such as clinical, counseling and school psychology, which require a 12-month internship (in addition to the dissertation), make take up to 6 years to complete. For a detailed description of the differences in the three clinically oriented fields, consult with your faculty.

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.): The Psy.D. is a relatively new degree (first awarded in the early 1970s) that is designed for the professional who wants to be a practitioner. Most Psy.D. programs do not require a dissertation, but they do require the same 12-month internship as the clinical, counseling and school psychology fields do.