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Psychology Teacher Degree Programs and Education Requirements

Depending on where you intend to teach, you can pursue a bachelor's in secondary education with a focus on psychology or a doctorate in psychology. Learn about the courses, requirements, and specializations available, along with job and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Students interested in teaching high school psychology can find many schools offering coordinated bachelor's programs through psychology and education departments to fulfill teaching requirements. These bachelor's programs help students develop skills in instruction and curriculum design while building an understanding of various psychology theories and concepts. A high school diploma or GED is necessary to apply for these bachelor's programs.

After graduation, required state licensure and voluntary certification apply. Requirements for licensure typically include a bachelor's degree, supervised classroom experience and an exam.

Those who wish to teach psychology at the postsecondary level must earn a doctorate in psychology. Here, an emphasis is placed on research, and students are prepared to teach at colleges and universities. Graduates are also prepared to become licensed psychologists.


Bachelor's Degree Programs in Secondary Education with a Focus in Psychology

The typical path to becoming a psychology teacher at the high school level is to complete a bachelor's degree program in secondary teacher education with a dual major, minor, or focus in psychology. Students complete coursework in their major or minor area in addition to teaching courses. Specializations related to psychology can also be used. Secondary educational program topics include:

  • Educational psychology
  • Adolescent growth & development
  • Principles of American Education
  • Critical Writing

Doctorate Programs in Psychology

Doctoral students who wish to become post-secondary psychology teachers often participate in teaching assistantships in addition to their coursework. Specializations exist for clinical, educational, and forensic psychology.

Course requirements vary, but many programs either require or recommend prior coursework in experimental psychology, research methods, statistical methods, and the natural, physical and social sciences along with a bachelor's or master's degree. Previous research experience is also beneficial. To earn their doctorate, students take required coursework and also participate in research projects, usually in their specific area of study. Required courses may cover:

  • Neuroscience
  • Cognition
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural issues in psychology

Licensure, Certification and Continuing Education

Graduates who complete an accredited teacher education program and a period of supervised teaching may take the state proficiency exam to obtain a teaching license. Continuing education is required to maintain licensing. Additional certification is voluntary. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ( www.nbpts.org) is the most widely recognized certification board in the teaching profession. They do not offer certification specifically for psychology teachers; however, those with a background in this field may be eligible for the generalist certification.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Employment of teachers at the secondary school level is expected to grow at a rate of 6% during the period from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job opportunities vary by region as well as the subject being taught. The median annual salary for secondary school teachers was $57,200 as of 2015.

Employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow 13%, faster than the national average for all jobs, during 2014-2024 according to the BLS. The median annual salary for postsecondary teachers of psychology was $70,260 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov).

To teach high school psychology one will need a bachelor's degree in secondary education while those who want to teach at the collegiate level typically need a Ph.D. in psychology. There are many options for licensure and certification after graduation, and additional learning must be undertaken to maintain your teaching license.

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