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Social Psychologist: Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a social psychologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

A social psychologist typically holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree or higher in social psychology. They may conduct research for governments, universities, or private firms. If they work at colleges or universities, they probably teach as well. Licensing may be required.

Essential Information

Social psychologists research social interactions and the factors that influence them. They may work in university or college settings, as well as in government or private organizations. A master's or doctorate degree is required to be a social psychologist. These professionals may also wish to receive state licensure, although it is not always required.

Required Education Master's or doctorate degree in social psychology
Other Requirements State licensure may be required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for all psychologists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $94,590 for psychologists, all other

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Social Psychologists

Social psychologists are highly educated individuals with a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, along with a master's or doctorate degree in social psychology. While some employers may require a Ph.D., social psychologists can find work with the completion of a master's degree in the field. Degree program options include a master's degree in social psychology or a master's degree with a co-concentration in applied social psychology and evaluation, as well as a Ph.D. with a concentration in applied social psychology. Students may choose double majors such as social psychology and counseling.

A program dealing specifically with social psychology incorporates coursework in contemporary issues in psychology, social psychology, research design and social change. Students also explore personality psychology, organizational psychology and sociology.

Career Information for Social Psychologists

Social psychology is considered a niche area of expertise for working psychologists. They are hired to study social tendencies such as group behavior, attitudes, public perception and leadership. Their career options include working in marketing research, systems design and organizational consultation.

Doctorate holding social psychologists may find positions teaching and researching at universities and colleges within the psychology department. Their research takes place primarily in the field or in school laboratories. Government organizations, as well as private business sectors also hire social psychologists as researchers, managers or political strategists.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologist jobs in general are projected to grow by 19% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Those holding a doctorate degree in social psychology will have the best chances of finding a position. The category of psychologists that includes social psychologists earned a median annual salary of $94,590 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Although licensure is not typically required, social psychologists who wish to receive their license in psychology must fulfill the requirements of their home state. A doctoral degree, work experience via an internship, and passing an exam are the typically required for licensure as a psychologist.

To become a social psychologist, one must first complete college and graduate school at the master's or doctoral level. This prepares them to work in a variety of settings conducting research on social interactions or how a person's cognitive and emotional makeup affects their responses to social stimuli.


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