Child Psychology Certification: Program Summary

Child psychology can be studied at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In order to become a licensed psychologist, the minimum education requirement is typically a doctorate, which includes a Ph.D. and a Psy.D.

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Essential Information

After earning a high school diploma, individuals can go on to study child psychology at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Other program options related to child psychology include developmental psychology, school psychology and clinical child psychology.

A bachelor's degree (often in general psychology) is the stepping stone to becoming a psychologist, since individuals are eligible for licensure once they have a master's degree. With a doctoral degree program in child psychology, the focus is more research-oriented and there's more flexibility in career options. Typically, a doctoral degree is the minimum education requirement for becoming a licensed psychologist; however, a master's degree may be sufficient for certain positions within the field.

Bachelor's Degrees in Child Psychology

Bachelor's degree programs in child psychology may be available, but undergraduate programs focusing on developmental psychology might be more common. These programs are typically designed to help students become accepted into graduate programs. A senior project may be required for graduation.

In a child or developmental psychology bachelor's degree program, students can expect to take courses in fundamental psychology concepts, such as research methods and statistics. Courses could include:

  • Language development
  • Disabilities in children
  • Cognitive development
  • Adolescent psychology
  • Memory
  • Social psychology

Master's Degrees in Child Psychology

At the master's degree level, individuals may be able to find general psychology programs with concentrations in developmental, child or adolescent psychology, or they may find programs in clinical child psychology or school psychology. These two-year programs can prepare students for select psychologist positions in some states, or they may prepare students to enter doctoral programs. With a master's degree in psychology, a graduate may be qualified to become licensed as a school psychologist. A bachelor's degree and relevant coursework is required for admission, along with letters of reference and a personal statement. Clinical practicums and a research project may be required for graduation.

Master's degree programs in developmental or child psychology typically include basic coursework in general psychology, such as research methods in psychology and statistics. Students may study behavioral assessment, as well as the following:

  • Language development
  • Psychopathology in children
  • Counseling with adolescents
  • Addictive disorders
  • Crisis intervention
  • Social development

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  • Child Psychiatry
  • Gerontology
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Doctoral Degrees in Child Psychology

Doctoral programs related to child psychology may be available under the titles of developmental psychology or school-clinical child psychology. They may also be available as either Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs. These programs qualify graduates to conduct research, become licensed and practice as psychologists. A doctoral program is commonly based in research, which culminates in a doctoral dissertation that must be presented and defended. In addition to a dissertation and graduate seminars, students may take courses in subjects such as:

  • Personality theories
  • Psychopathology in children
  • Psychological assessment
  • Counseling psychology
  • Psychopathology in adolescents
  • Social psychology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school, clinical and counseling psychologists are expected to see a 20% increase in employment from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than average. The BLS also reports that, in May 2015, these psychologists earned a median annual salary of $70,580.

Popular Career Options

After completing a doctoral degree program in psychology, graduates are ready to become licensed and obtain employment in a variety of psychologist positions. In addition to the title of school psychologist, those interested in working in child psychology may find work as:

  • Clinical psychologists
  • Developmental psychologists
  • Counseling psychologists
  • Social psychologists

If you would like to work as s child psychologist, then you will most likely need to obtain a Ph.D or Psy.D in order to become licensed; however, you might be able to work as a school psychologist with only a master's degree.

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