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Five-Year Bachelor's/Master's Programs in Psychology: An Overview

Psychology students interested in obtaining both a bachelor's and master's degree in only five years of study may enroll in a combined degree program. These programs may appeal to students who would like to enter the job field after graduation or pursue a doctoral program.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer programs in psychology that allow students to complete work for both a bachelor's and master's degree in just five years of full-time study. Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some programs require that the students have completed at least half of the required hours for a bachelor's degree, while other programs designate certain courses that must have been completed.

In the undergraduate portion of the program, students get foundational knowledge in topics such as psychological assessment, statistics and research methods. At the master's level, the students may choose an area in which to specialize, such as counseling psychology or cognitive psychology. They may be allowed to earn a degree in a related field. Most master's programs include hands-on experience in teaching or clinical work, and a thesis may be required.

Graduates can pursue mental health or school counseling certification with a master's degree. They will need to earn a doctoral degree in order to be licensed as a psychologist.

Bachelor's/Master's Degree in Psychology

As undergraduates, students in combined degree programs study basic psychological assessment and research methods. Their graduate-level coursework usually focuses on a specialty area, such as counseling psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology or health psychology. In some programs, a master's degree can be awarded in a related field, like art therapy. General psychology programs are also available. Some of these programs sponsor teaching or clinical practicums and internships. Students may be required to complete a master's thesis as well.

Educational Prerequisites

Combined degree programs may limit admission to psychology majors who have completed at least 60 credit hours of their undergraduate coursework. Other programs may require applicants to be juniors. Art therapy students will need to complete visual art courses. Students must also submit letters of recommendation from school faculty members and meet minimum GPA requirements.

Course Topics

Coursework for the bachelor's degree program usually focuses on research methods and statistics. Introductory course topics in the graduate area of specialization may also be included. Master's degree coursework is more specialized. Courses could include the following:

  • Art therapy methodology
  • Biopsychology
  • Cognition and perception
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Psychopathology
  • Social psychology
  • Substance abuse psychology

Popular Career Options

Graduates of combined degree programs may pursue careers in such fields as business, education, criminal justice and health care. Possible job titles include:

  • Marketing researcher
  • School counselor
  • Data analyst
  • Lab technician
  • Mental health counselor

Licensure and Continuing Education Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), program graduates who would like to work as mental health or school counselors will need to be licensed ( In many states, this requires a master's degree and two years of work experience. Candidates will also need to pass a state-issued exam.

Graduates of combined programs may also pursue doctoral degrees in psychology. This is the minimum educational requirement for aspiring clinical, counseling or research psychologists, according to the BLS.

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