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Master of Science (MS): Psychology Degree Overview

Discover what the curriculum is like in a Master of Science in Psychology program. See examples of courses and prerequisites, as well as get information on continuing education and career statistics.

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Essential Information

A 2-year Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology degree program centers on providing the student with general knowledge about psychology in order to prepare them to be psychologists, researchers, counselors or therapists. They can prepare graduates for doctoral programs in psychology or master's-level careers in research and counseling.

Through this program, students - who must hold a bachelor's degree - can acquire a strong, research-based background in psychology. They may choose to direct their curriculum in a particular concentration, such as clinical, social, behavioral, experimental or cognitive psychology. Tracks may differ according to school, but most programs will require the completion of a thesis. Depending on their career goal, graduates should verify whether licensure is required for a particular position.

Education Prerequisites

All applicants will need to submit proof that they've earned a bachelor's degree. They'll also need to supply a statement that outlines their experience and goals in relation to psychology.

Course Topics

Students can explore theories on human behavior, intervention techniques, patient assessment and research methods throughout their courses in psychology. Examples of course topics in this degree program may include the following:

  • Industrial and organizational psychology
  • Personality evaluation
  • Statistical analysis
  • Social psychology
  • Professional and research ethics
  • Research internship

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Students who obtain an M.S. degree in psychology can pursue careers in therapy and psychology. Individuals may find employment as marriage and family therapists or industrial-organizational psychologists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that marriage and family therapists, who require licensure, made an average annual income of $51,690 in May 2013. During the same year, industrial-organizational psychologists earned an average yearly salary of $87,960 ( The BLS anticipates that psychologists in general will see an employment growth rate of 12% from 2012 to 2022, which is about average.

Continuing Education

If individuals are interested in practicing in other areas of psychology independently, they'll need to earn a Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Psychology, according to the BLS. Each state has its own licensure requirements that psychologists will need to meet.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics