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Adolescent Psychology Degree Program Overviews

Adolescent psychology is a branch of psychology that analyzes youth development and behavior. Psychology degree programs at every level often include courses on the topic for those who are interested in the specialization.

Essential Information

In psychology and clinical psychology bachelor's degree programs students focused on adolescent psychology learn about child development and how to counsel, diagnose and treat youth patients struggling with mental and emotional health issues and/or substance abuse. Once at the master's degree level students have the opportunity to interview and evaluate individuals and families for mental illness and substance abuse. Continuing on to a doctoral program, the curriculum covers therapeutic interventions, diagnostic procedures, substance abuse and trauma. Often, completion of internships, research projects and dissertations are required, depending on the degree level.

Admittance requirements for each degree level generally build upon each other. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to get into a bachelor's program. Then, a bachelor's degree, acceptable GRE scores, essays of intent and three letters of recommendation are needed for advanced degree programs.


Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Bachelor's students learn about adolescent development and cognition, abnormal and educational psychology, psychological testing, counseling ethics and treatment methods. They also gain practical experience working with youth in clinical and/or school settings and acquire communication, research and critical thinking skills. Research coursework in an undergraduate psychology program focuses on psychological testing procedures, such as surveys, play therapies and independent observation. Traditional lecture topics include:

  • Personality theory
  • Child and adolescent disorders
  • Human services
  • Special needs children
  • Psychometrics

Master of Arts in Psychology

Students at the master's level attain counseling skills and learn how to apply psychological theories to the treatment of adolescents and children. The standard program length for a master's degree is two years, but accelerated master's programs, that take 11 months or less, are available. A research exit project that can be applied to a real-world work situation must be completed for graduation. Classes often discuss:

  • Family dynamics
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Intervention
  • Trauma
  • Death and loss

Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology

Doctoral curricula is thorough and investigative studies-intensive, involving clerkships in statistics and qualitative research. Doctoral students will fulfill a dissertation mandate and an adolescent patient counseling practicum. Two of the typical five years is spent in a clerkship in which students work with mentors in the areas of research, statistics and writing. Some examples of classroom topics are:

  • Adolescent cognition
  • Adolescent depression
  • Psychopathology
  • Pharmacological treatments
  • Art therapy

Popular Career Options

Employment opportunities for graduates exist in a variety of areas, including schools, youth services organizations and juvenile rehabilitation centers. Popular job titles include:

  • Youth counselor
  • Case manager
  • Social services assistant
  • Organizational psychologist
  • Psychologist's assistant

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is predicted to grow at a rate of 20% over 2014-2024, with a median salary of $70,580 as of May 2015.

Licensing Information

State licensing requirements to work as a professional psychologist vary, but education, clinical experience and the passing of an examination are typical mandates. Those with a state license, and who have three years of supervised clinical experience, are eligible for board certification through the American Academy of Clinical Psychology.

Psychology students who wish to work with youth and become specialists in adolescent psychology can start with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Continuing to master's and doctoral degree programs will allow students to focus their studies, in which they can become effective at working with and helping adolescents.

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