Master's in Social Psychology Program Guide

Social psychology explores the ways people behave and interact in various social contexts. Professionals in the field examine how other people can impact an individual's behavior. Developed from the belief that social interactions help shape the human psyche, the field of social psychology also examines relationships and social perceptions. Social psychology master's programs prepare students to earn licensure and practice in the field. These programs emphasize research and scholarship, and learners gain clinical experience.

This guide outlines the process of earning a social psychology degree and highlights the benefits of pursuing a graduate degree in the field.

Degree Snapshot

Typical Admission Requirements:
Applicants must typically hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.75-3.0 GPA. Programs generally require applicants to submit GRE scores, including psychology subject test scores, and letters of recommendation.

Time to Completion:
Most programs require 48-60 credits, which full-time students typically complete in 2-3 years.

More information on social psychology degrees

Why Get a Master's Degree in Social Psychology?

Earning a master's in social psychology can lead to many professional and personal benefits. The list below includes benefits graduates often receive after completing a social psychology master's.

  • Salary Increase

    Earning a master's degree in social psychology can lead to higher salaries. Professionals with a graduate degree typically earn more than those with a bachelor's.

  • Clinical Practice

    To practice social psychology clinically, professionals must hold at least a master's degree. A master's qualifies degree-holders for entry-level social psychology jobs.

  • Specialization

    Most master's in social psychology programs allow students to tailor the degree to their specific interests through specialization options and electives.

  • Field Knowledge

    Master's students can pursue research and scholarship while earning their degree, allowing them to explore and engage with the field before practicing social psychology.

  • Professional Networking

    Social psychology students often interact with professionals in the field, attend conferences, and build their professional network.

Example Courses

Social psychology graduate programs often require foundational courses in general psychology, along with specialized classes in areas such as culture, development, social cognition, and interpersonal relationships. Coursework helps students gain skills and knowledge in clinical psychology, common research theories and designs, and statistical analysis. Most graduate programs in the field also include a thesis or capstone project, which involve extensive research.

Course offerings vary by school, but most social psychology programs cover similar topics. The classes below are commonly available in social psychology graduate programs.

Culture and Psychology

This course examines the impact of culture on psychology. Students explore topics related to cross-cultural psychology and develop an understanding of various cultures represented in psychological theories. The course also examines the intersection of culture, mental health, social behavior, and human development.

Emotion

This course explores complex emotions and examines their cognitive and psychological origins. Students gain an understanding of how an individual's unique experiences and perceptions can impact their emotions. Coursework examines psychological theories regarding various types of human emotions.

Social Cognition

Social cognition involves the cognitive processes individuals employ to analyze and store information about other people, particularly during social interactions. Coursework covers schema theory and attribution theory. Students discuss the impact of social cognition on social behavior, and they examine topics including social biases and heuristics.

Group Dynamics

Group dynamics and interactions are central to the study of social psychology. This course explores theories and existing research on group dynamics. Students examine and discuss topics such as discrimination, majority influence and motivation, group conflict, and collective identities.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Social Psychology?

Most social psychology careers require a graduate degree. Professionals must hold licensure to practice clinically. Some states award certain types of clinical licensure to candidates with a master's degree; however, professionals need a doctoral degree to practice as a psychologist. Graduates with only a master's degree can pursue other careers in the field or apply to doctoral programs.


Where Do Social Psychologists Work?

Social psychologists often work for private organizations, government organizations, and scientific research and development services. They can also work as independent consultants.

Career Advancement

Earning a social psychology master's degree can lead to career advancement for current professionals in the field; however, many graduates pursue additional education and credentials, including doctoral programs and licensure. The options below can help social psychology professionals advance their career and increase their earning potential.

Doctoral Programs

Although a master's in social psychology can lead to entry-level careers in the field, a doctorate often provides further career advancement. To practice as a clinical psychologist, professionals must typically hold a doctorate and a state license. After earning a doctorate in social psychology, many graduates obtain licensure and practice clinically. Doctorate-holders can also pursue other advanced, high-paying career options.

Many graduates of social psychology doctoral programs pursue roles teaching at colleges and universities. Ph.D. programs prepare students for these teaching positions, which may also involve engaging with scholarship in the field, conducting new research, and serving on doctoral research committees.

Licensure

After completing social psychology graduate programs, some individuals practice clinically as psychologists. Most states require these professionals to hold a license. Licensure requirements vary by state, so aspiring psychologists should contact their state board for details. However, most states require candidates to hold a doctoral degree, complete a minimum number of supervised practice hours, and pass a licensure exam.

Licensed social psychologists can pursue careers in a variety of settings. A background in social psychology can lead to careers in organizational psychology and positions in human resources.

Professional Organizations

  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology As the largest professional organization for social psychology, SPSP offers members access to research and scholarly journals, networking opportunities, and an annual convention.
  • Society of Experimental Social Psychology This international organization works to expand and advance research and scholarship in social psychology. Prospective members must be nominated and apply. The organization offers an annual conference and online access to scholarly journals.
  • Social Psychology Network Social Psychology Network provides a database of searchable, accessible online resources for professionals in the field. The network promotes social justice and sustainability through education.

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