Master's Degree in Applied Psychology: Program Overview

Oct 09, 2019

If you want to focus your psychology graduate studies on a particular real-world application, a master's degree program in applied psychology may meet your needs. Find out about degree options, curriculum, and future prospects for graduates.

Essential Information

Students who are interested in applied psychology can earn a Master of Arts or Master of Science in the field. These programs train students to use the principles of psychology to solve practical problems in business, healthcare, and other real-world settings. Focus areas include research, community, health and industrial and organizational psychology. Most programs include core courses in areas such as psychological theories and research methodology. Prior to graduation, students must fulfill an internship requirement and conduct independent research that leads to a final thesis.

In order to apply to one of these two-year programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree in psychology and meet minimum GPA and GRE score requirements. They must also submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement of interest.

Master's Degree in Applied Psychology

Coursework in these programs typically depends on a student's focus area. Industrial and organizational psychology students learn to work with businesses and associations, helping them improve human resources management and increase productivity. Students who focus on health or counseling psychology may gain more knowledge about emotional, physical, and social aspects of personal wellness. Counseling psychology students may concentrate on marriage and family therapy, mental health, multicultural counseling, career counseling or substance abuse counseling. Common coursework includes:

  • Human relations
  • Personality theory
  • Developmental psychology
  • Behavioral science statistics and assessment techniques
  • Psychopathology
  • Ethical and legal issues in applied psychology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all psychologists was expected to grow by 14% from 2018-2028 ( As of May 2018, marriage and family therapists earned a mean annual wage of $54,150, while mental health counselors made $46,050. The mean annual salary for rehabilitation counselors was $39,930, and that of substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors was $49,630, also per the BLS.

Employment of industrial and organizational psychologists is expected to increase 13% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than average. Their mean annual income was $97,260 as of May 2018, according to the BLS.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

To practice in professions that involve direct patient care, including counseling, additional certification and licensure requirements must be met; individual states set such requirements. Typically, candidates must have a certain level of practical experience in the field and pass an examination. Psychologists might also attain voluntary certification in areas like rehabilitation and family psychology.

Graduates who want to pursue further studies can earn graduate certificates or enroll in a Ph.D. program. Doctoral students are expected to contribute to the field through individual research that culminates in a final written dissertation. Upon graduation, they can pursue careers in research or clinical practice.

When students choose a master's degree program in applied psychology, they can expect to study advanced topics in psychology and find out how they can be applied to a specific area of interest. After completing a master's program, graduates can obtain work in the field or pursue additional education options.

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