Different Types of Psychology Degrees

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. What degree program are you most interested in?
What degree program are you most interested in?

While some people may equate obtaining a psychology degree with a career in behavioral therapy, a psychology degree can prepare future professionals for a wealth of job opportunities in a wide range of industries. This is evident when students look at the various types of psychology degrees available. In a psychology program with a sharpened focus, students have the opportunity to finely curate the skills they will need to succeed in a particular field.

Psychology students sitting on couch with laptop and tablet

Range of  Available Psychology Degrees

Psychology programs are differentiated not only by the level of the degree but also by the degree type. While there can be some overlaps, prospective students can use the distinctions to help them decide which aspects of psychology may serve them best in their pursuit of a thriving career, including careers that aren’t necessarily psychology-centric.

Associate Degree in Psychology

An associate degree in psychology is often the first step toward a deeper academic study in the psychology field. Unlike other types of psychology degrees that can lead to a more concentrated aspect of psychology, an associate degree focuses on the fundamental elements of mental process and behavior, from critical and analytical thinking to interpersonal skills.

The skills students hone in this degree program can prepare them for a host of entry-level care-based roles, such as psychiatric aide, home care aide, or human service assistant. In some cases, these types of positions may require extra certification.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology

Obtaining a B.A. in psychology can allow students to establish a connection between psychology and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. This degree is ideal for those looking to prepare for a career in an applied psychology profession through courses pertaining to human cognition, sociology, and human relationships.

Courses tend to focus on the social, clinical, cognitive, and developmental components of psychology. Having a firm grasp of these concepts could lay the foundation for a successful career in several fields focused on interpersonal relations, from social work and human resources to more seemingly unrelated fields, such as sales and market research analysis. Additional certification may be required for positions in these areas, depending on the career path.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology

Pursuing a B.S. in psychology shifts focus away from interpersonal metrics and focuses on the science, research, and statistical side of psychology. It is the type of psychology degree for students interested in applying their psychological acumen to pursuing medical school or building a foundation for graduate pursuits in science-based psychology. Students who pursue this degree can expect to take advanced math, science, research, and statistics classes.

Graduates can use the knowledge they gain during this course of study to pursue professions linked to “traditional” psychological roles, such as therapist. A B.S. in psychology also could lead to other clinical psychology occupations, such as neuropsychologist or researcher. It should be noted that those in a psychologist role must complete a terminal degree before they can pursue work in a clinical setting. Additionally, psychologists must be licensed, according to the requirements established by their state.

Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology

Pursuing a bachelor’s-level psychology education can mean a specified course of study that blends the foundational elements of psychology with another field. For example, a Bachelor of Arts in forensic psychology marries concepts of psychology and criminal justice, resulting in a curriculum that can prepare students to conduct important work within the broad sphere of criminal justice. This type of work may emphasize behavioral analysis to identify criminal behavior, or it could also utilize interpersonal skills to promote victim advocacy. This unique expertise could lead to a career as a probation officer, community service manager, or social science research assistant.

A forensic psychology degree isn’t the only specialized Bachelor of Arts psychology major that students can pursue. Educational psychology, counseling psychology, and social psychology all offer unique avenues to apply specially curated elements of psychological study in other fields.

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology

An M.A. in psychology can further deepen a student’s knowledge of applied psychological concepts. This depth may not necessarily entail a focus on a particular field. Rather, it may concentrate on honing a more generalized knowledge base, one that can lay the foundation for a wide spectrum of positions across multiple fields.

An M.A. in psychology may serve as the minimum qualification for certain applied positions, such as substance abuse counselor, or advanced roles in the educational field. It can also lay the groundwork for pursuing a doctoral degree.

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology

An M.S. in psychology can prepare students to acquire a deeper knowledge of a specified element of the clinical psychology field. This curriculum typically provides hands-on study in the chosen concentration.

Obtaining an M.S. in psychology can often be a necessary step for those interested in clinical practice, as most professions relating to clinical psychology require a terminal degree, such as a doctorate. Licensing and certification are also typically expected for these professions, particularly in an independent practice.

Where Can a Psychology Degree Take You?

Though therapist may be the easiest profession to associate with a psychology degree, it’s far from the lone career path. Any of the various types of psychology degrees can lead to a broad spectrum of opportunities within many different industries. Psychology majors can leverage their skills into careers in healthcare, human resources, marketing, advertising, education, and many other fields.

For those interested in the field of psychology, Maryville University’s online Bachelor’s in Psychology and online Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology are both degree options that can lead students to exciting career paths.


Maryville University, Online Psychology Bachelor’s Degree

Maryville University, Careers with a Forensic Psychology Bachelor’s Degree

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Psychology Today

American Psychological Association

U.S. News & World Report