Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students

By Steven Walfish; Allen K. Hess | Go to book overview

3
Choosing the Master's Degree
in Psychology
Baron Perlman

Almost 150 departments in the United States and Canada offer the master's degree in psychology as a terminal degree (APA, 1999). Students interested in an advanced degree in psychology and employment in the field after graduation need to decide if this terminal degree fits their needs.


OVERVIEW

Although master's and doctoral programs in psychology share some similarities, one of the biggest dissimilarities is the time needed to complete the degree. Generally the master's takes 2 years, whereas a PhD or PsyD requires 4 or 5 years of study and an additional year of internship in some applied subdisciplines (the next chapter provides information about these two types of doctoral degrees). Master's programs can vary in the breath and depth of what you learn, but a good master's program can be as demanding—and as rewarding—as doctoral study.

My experience, supported by independent research, indicates that there are many opportunities for bright, energetic, skilled people with a master's of arts (MA) or science (MS) in psychology. Geography can influence these opportunities, with employment requirements varying widely from state to state, and even within states.

This chapter discusses four areas pertinent to the master's degree: (a) the strengths and weaknesses of the degree; (b) educational opportunities for undergraduate majors and nonmajors; (c) admission standards for master's programs; and (d) professional concerns such as employment, supervision, and licensing/certification.

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