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Psychology Degree Level and Specialty Guide 2022

A specialty is a defined area of psychological practice that needs advanced knowledge and skills, which are acquired through an organized sequence of education and training.

The field of psychology is a science that studies the behaviors and processes of the mind to better comprehend complicated social and biological dynamics for individuals and among groups. The discipline is rooted in utilizing the scientific method. Ultimately, its advances seek to help society better cope with various mental disorders and social challenges.

Getting into a psychology program can be highly competitive, especially at the graduate level. This article contains the different degree levels, as well as the areas of specialty in the field of psychology.

Psychology Degree Levels

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in psychology is offered at many community colleges. It is usually completed in two years. After completion, students often transfer to a four-year program to get a bachelor’s degree.

Due to the fact that more education is usually required to work in the field of psychology, an associate’s degree is typically a stepping-stone degree that provides an educational foundation for further studies.

Bachelor’s Degree

As one of the most well-known four-year undergraduate programs in the country, a bachelor’s degree in psychology is offered by many schools as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or as a Bachelor of Science (BS) with a major in psychology.

A BA degree generally requires more liberal arts and general education classes, while a BS focuses on science- and math-related general education courses. As a student, your choice of either a BS or BA should depend on your interest and career aspirations, although they are comparably valuable.

Those who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology may get employed in a wide range of industries since graduates are perceived to be well-rounded, analytical thinkers who understand human behavior and are successful in jobs that need solid social and communication skills.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in psychology is a one- to a two-year graduate degree for full-time students. As a degree that can either be offered as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS), the job outlook for those with a master’s in psychology is highly positive.

Interestingly, in some states, individuals holding a master’s degree in psychology can become licensed to give limited clinical services. However, they have to do so under the supervision of a licensed, doctoral-level psychologist.

There are various types of master’s degree programs in psychology, and while some are designed to prepare graduates for the workforce, others aim to develop students for PsyD or Ph.D. degrees.

Doctor of Psychology

A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is a doctoral-level professional degree that equips students to give assessment and therapy services to clients and patients. A PsyD can only be earned in clinical, counseling, or school psychology, as they are the three subfields that are qualified for licensure and clinical practice.

While PsyD programs include less focus on research than Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) programs, students are still required to finish thesis and dissertation projects. They may get involved in other research privileges.

Most PsyD degree programs typically take about four to six years to complete. Doctor of Psychology programs generally have a greater number of graduates yearly and higher acceptance rates than their Ph.D. counterparts. Hence, PsyD programs may be easier to get into.

Psychology Specialties

Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology

Psychologists who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tend to treat people with substance abuse issues, anxiety disorders or depression, and developmental disorders. They may also help families and couples in addition to individuals.

They tend to incorporate treatments, including behavioral skills training, acceptance, commitment, conditioning, and behavior modification therapy, in addition to other methods.

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Students in a child psychology degree program get training in cognitive and social development, medical and biological factors related to development, how family and school environments can affect well-being, and popular psychological conditions diagnosed during childhood.

This knowledge is then utilized to conduct therapy and evaluations with children from infancy to adolescence, including their families.

Clinical Psychology

Those in clinical psychology degree programs learn about psychopathology and how to offer health care that examines patients’ behavioral and mental health while integrating skills from other disciplines outside and within psychology.

Clinical psychology is not restricted to any specific age, culture, or socioeconomic group. Target areas may include emotional and mental health, physical health like chronic illness management, or working with particular groups like the elderly, students, or children.

Counseling Psychology


This involves practical intervention skills for clients across diverse cultural and demographic backgrounds. Students in this specialty are taught to address various psychological and emotional concerns. They may work in settings where psychological professionals are employed, including clinics, private practices, universities, and hospitals.

Forensic Psychology

A degree in forensic psychology provides an ideal area of specialization for students that have an interest in law enforcement and legal settings. Students in this field learn to conduct thorough assessments of individuals with the legal system to know if an individual has any psychological disorder or any other circumstance that may affect ongoing legal proceedings.

Health Psychology

This is the intersection of emotional and physical health. Students in these programs are equipped to work with patients who have medical diagnoses, with the aim to alleviate or avoid mental health symptoms that may be attached to these conditions.

They also learn to help patients make behavioral changes that enhance their physical health and conduct psychological assessments for medical patients, like pre-transplant evaluations, to know a person’s psychological readiness for transplant surgery.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

It is a unique specialty, as it is the only one that doesn’t need licensure in all stages. Persons in this specialty are trained to help businesses and organizations with projects like improving hiring procedures and increasing employee productivity and satisfaction.


It is defined as studying and assessing the central nervous system’s function and how it affects human behavior. It is dedicated to widening the understanding of the relationship between the brain and human behavior.

School Psychology

This specialty prepares graduates to apply psychological principles in school settings to enhance students’ academic achievement and well-being.

School psychology programs equip graduates to offer various services, such as conducting psychoeducational assessments to know whether students need academic accommodations and providing therapy to students experiencing emotional difficulties.

Psychology Degree Levels and Specialty


To be eligible for your desired specialty in psychology, you should research to know the degree levels and other requirements that you should comply with.

Radhe Gupta
Radhe Gupta is an Indian business blogger. He believes that Content and Social Media Marketing are the strongest forms of marketing nowadays. Radhe also tries different gadgets every now and then to give their reviews online. You can connect with him...