Psychology Degree, Online Psychology Degree

The human psyche is an amazing thing. Those earning a psychology degree get to unravel it's mysteries.

All human psyches consist of six things: love, fear, joy, hatred, boredom and sexuality. The degree to which a person focuses on one or more of those aspects is what makes them unique. It’s also what keeps psychologists in business.

What is Psychology?

Psychology can be defined in one of two ways. First and foremost, it is the mental characteristics or attitude – as defined above – which defines a person or group of people. It also can be defined as the scientific study of the human mind and its function, particularly those which affect human behavior in certain situations. People who study psychology are called psychologists.

It is the goal of psychologists to both understand and treat the human psyche, which includes treatment for mental health, enhancing the performance of the human brain, self-help therapy and other mental health issues that affect one’s daily health and living.

Psychology is the “marriage” of philosophy and biology, using both sciences to help decode, enhance and treat the human mind. While evidence of psychology can be found in its earliest form during the Greek era, the field of study wasn’t officially born until the late 1800s, when German scientist Wilhelm Wundt created the first experimental psychology lab in Leipzig, Germany. His work centered on the analysis of sensations and feelings by using introspection. Wundt believed that those properly trained in psychology would be able to identify and treat the mental processes that produced thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

Today’s psychologists use more objective scientific methods, which help them to understand, explain and predict human behavior, as well as to diagnose and treat mental health issues. Psychological study in today’s world consists of two aspects: academic psychology and applied psychology. Academic psychology is the study of various sub-topics within the field, including personality, social behavior and human development. Applied psychology is the use of psychological principles to solve problems. Forensic psychologists – who often are used by criminal investigators to determine a suspect’s mental health and rationale for committing crime – is among the growing fields of applied psychology today.

Earning A Degree In Psychology

To select the best option for earning a psychology degree, it is best to first determine which field of psychology will be practiced. There are several levels of psychology degrees, but each level qualifies the recipient to work in only selected fields.

  • Associate Degree in Psychology: An Associate Degree in Psychology requires only two years of training from a certified college or university. Psychology degrees at this level often are found at community colleges and through online psychology degree programs. Students who earn an associate’s degree have the option to then transfer to a four-year college or university, with the intention of earning a Bachelor’s Degree, or they can seek employment. However, employment options for those with only an associate’s degree are limited, as is the earning potential for those with this type of degree.

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology: Job opportunities for those with a Bachelor’s Degree are greatly expanded; however, those with a Bachelor’s Degree are still considered entry-level, and will only earn about 2.5 percent of those who have a Master or Doctorate degree. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology generally takes four years. Most students who earn a Bachelor’s Degree do so as a means to move forward and further study their selected field.

  • Master’s Degree in Psychology: Earning this level of degree takes an additional two to three years of schooling beyond a Bachelor’s Degree. Some colleges and universities have a program at this level which prepares students to enter the workforce upon completion. Other programs offer training which prepares the student to continue on toward earning a Doctoral degree. Among the jobs those who directly enter the workforce are trained to do include working in mental health services, government agencies, social services, drug and alcohol treatment centers or behavioral counseling.

  • Doctoral Degree in Psychology(Ph.D.): Students who wish to pursue this level of psychology degree can plan on taking five to seven years of graduate-level study. They also must complete an internship with a licensed psychologist as a requirement of graduation. Those seeking a Ph.D. generally focus on research-oriented jobs within the field, which can include theoretical and applied training. Those seeking a Ph.D. will be asked to select a specialty within their field, which can include private practice, clinical psychology or counseling services. Some people who earn a Ph.D. choose to continue working in the field of research.

  • Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.): This degree was created as an alternative to a traditional Ph.D. and tends to focus on the professional practice of psychology. Those who wish to become a licensed psychologist, who is qualified to diagnose and treat mental disorders, should seek to earn this degree. Psy.D. degrees take an additional four to seven years of graduate study to complete. Students who attempt to earn this degree will be required to intern with a licensed psychologist as part of their degree requirements.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median annual salary for a psychologist with a four-year degree is $68,640. Demand for trained psychologists is expected to increase over the next eight years by 22 percent. Those who have earned a doctorate degree in applied psychology, as well as those who possess a doctorate degree in school psychology, will be in the highest demand over the next decade.

Article by Shari Berg,

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