Pros & Cons of a Master's in Psychology

Oct 29, 2018

A master's degree in psychology can open a variety of career options. Those with a master's in psychology may also see a boost in their salary when compared to those who hold a bachelor's in the field. There are, however, some areas in which the master's might be lacking. We'll take a look at both the positives and negatives associated with earning a master's in psychology.

Pros of Earning a Master's in Psychology

A master's degree in psychology offers some benefits that a bachelor's degree in the field may not. If you'd like to learn more about what makes a master's degree a good choice, read on.

Opportunity to Specialize

Many universities offer master's degree programs in psychology. Some target the psychology program at a specific subarea, such as clinical psychology and social psychology. According to the American Psychology Association (APA), the main subfield programs that are offered by colleges are grouped as:

  1. Clinical Psychology
  2. Cognitive Psychology
  3. Counseling Psychology
  4. Developmental Psychology
  5. Experimental Psychology
  6. Industrial & Organizational Psychology
  7. Neuroscience
  8. School Psychology
  9. Social Psychology

Higher Salary

PayScale reports that the average salary for someone with a bachelor's degree in psychology is $56,000 in 2018. Though this is a nice number, we can see on PayScale at this same time, that by earning a master's degree in psychology, your salary could improve up to $60,000 a year. This may not seem like much, but these are both for the generic psychology degree program, so selecting a specific area may improve these numbers.

Career Options

With a psychology master's comes a variety of career options, each with a different client population. School psychologists may enter the field with a master's degree, as can marriage and family therapists. Some positions as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors typically require the applicant to hold a master's degree, as well. A master's degree in psychology is often the minimally accepted education for mental health counselors and industrial-organizational psychologists.

Cons of Earning a Master's in Psychology

There are not many cons for earning a master's degree in psychology. However, we'll examine two potential negatives that should be considered.

Program Cost

Perhaps the most common concern of students is a program's cost. According to a 2016 report published by the APA, the median tuition for a master's program can range from $8,640 for in-state residents attending a public college/university to over $30,000 for students who opted for a private school. Students should weigh the cost of a program against the potential salary increase that may accompany the degree.

Licensing Requirements

For those who intend to pursue a career as a clinical, research or counseling psychologist, a master's degree is typically not sufficient education. Though every state has its own licensing requirements, you'll find that most ask that you hold a doctorate in psychology if you wish to work with patients. The master's, however, will allow you to work as a psychological assistant under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist.

Students who pursue a master's degree in psychology could expect to have a variety of jobs open to them upon graduation. Before choosing a program, however, they should examine all the benefits and potential downsides of such a move, including career opportunities, cost and projected salary.

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