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Psychoanalysis Degree, Certificate and Training Information

Psychoanalysis is a method of studying the human mind and behavior in order to understand psychological functioning and improve emotional well-being. Universities offer related master's degree programs, graduate certificates and doctoral programs.

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Essential Information

Master's and certificate programs require a bachelor's degree, while doctoral programs require a master's degree and prior clinical fieldwork. In addition to clinical fieldwork, seminars and externships, students may be required to produce a thesis project or a dissertation. Master's programs can prepare students for work as psychological assistants or for further academic training. In most states, psychologists can't obtain mandatory licensure without a doctoral degree. Some coursework can be completed online.


Master of Arts in Psychoanalysis

A master's degree is the most basic level of psychoanalysis training available. The goal of such a 2-year program is to provide graduate students with an understanding of the development and function of the human mind and an awareness of how to treat common types of disordered thinking.

Because a master's degree is not sufficient qualification to practice as a psychoanalyst, such a program is typically designed to prepare students for further doctoral study in the field. Students enrolled in a master's degree program in psychoanalysis learn through extensive seminar courses as well as field externships and training analysis. They must also contribute to research in the field through a thesis paper or project.

While all students interested in entering a master's degree program in psychoanalysis must have at least a bachelor's degree, they can often come from widely differing fields of study. Academic backgrounds in medicine, education, law, engineering and other fields can serve as suitable preparation for a master's program in psychoanalysis.

Students enrolled in a master's degree program in psychoanalysis gain a background in psychoanalytic theory while also putting such theories into practice through clinical fieldwork. Some examples of courses include:

  • Clinical assessment
  • Psychoanalytic theory and comparative psychoanalysis
  • Fundamentals of Freud
  • Human development and the mind
  • Neurophysiology
  • Psychopathology

Certificate in Psychoanalysis

A certificate program in psychoanalysis provides comprehensive theoretical and practical training in the principles of psychoanalysis. It is distinguished from a doctoral program by its focus on preparation for clinical practice rather than academic research. As such, a certificate program may be more appealing to students who aspire to work as psychoanalysts than to those who hope for a career as a professor or researcher.

Students enrolled in the program study primitive mental states, psychoanalytic theory, history of psychoanalysis, contemporary psychoanalytic theory, and more. They also complete substantial job shadowing placements and internships at mental health care facilities, which may include inpatient institutions and private psychoanalytic practices. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for admission.

The courses included within a certificate program in psychoanalysis are very similar to those courses available in a doctoral degree program in the field. Students are not expected to complete a dissertation, but must complete courses covering topics such as:

  • Psychoanalystic theory
  • Integrated theory
  • Case studies
  • Empirical research
  • Clinical observation

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Doctor of Psychoanalysis

A doctoral degree in psychoanalysis prepares graduates to practice as psychoanalysts or to pursue academic research in the field. Such programs combine full theoretical training, clinical training and research experiences with the completion of a dissertation. Students must learn how to apply the concepts of psychoanalysis to actual patients in the field. They are often required to complete up to 450 hours of fieldwork to earn a doctorate.

A master's degree in psychoanalysis is a common prerequisite for students interested in earning a doctoral degree in the field. Students should have some clinical fieldwork experience as well before entering into a doctoral program.

A doctoral degree program in psychoanalysis is divided into different categories of study. Students must complete the areas of:

  • Personal training analysis
  • Clinical training
  • Research theory and methods
  • Dissertation
  • Case study papers
  • Final clinical case presentation

Popular Career Options

Students who complete a master's degree in psychoanalysis must continue on to earn a doctoral degree if they are interested in becoming psychoanalysts. Other graduates might choose to apply their knowledge of the human mind to a different career field. Some of these might include:

  • Law
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Social work

Certified psychoanalysts can work in several fields that deal with human behavior and development. They can go on to become:

  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Medical doctors
  • Psychotherapists
  • Mental health counselors

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is predicted to increase 20% during the 2014-2024 decade. The median salary for professionals in this field was $70,580 as of May 2015, reports the BLS.

Certification Options

The completion of a doctoral degree in psychoanalysis often leads to certification in the field. Only a few states have additional licensing requirements. For example, New York requires psychoanalysts to gain licensure, but those students who graduate from an accredited doctoral or certificate program are eligible to gain that licensure.

Individuals interested in a career in psychoanalysis can gain knowledge and hands-on experience in certificate, master's degree, and doctoral programs. While many graduates go into a career of psychoanalysis, programs can also prepare you for careers in a number of fields such as law, education, and medicine.

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