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

| Nina Chamlou

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

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Almost half of undergraduate students in psychology choose to pursue a master's degree in the same subject. This extra level of education gives you the chance to sharpen your research skills, build your professional network, and set yourself apart from your peers.

But as you get closer to completing your graduate program, you've no doubt started wondering, what can I do with a master's in psychology?

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

Master's degree holders in psychology report higher overall job and salary satisfaction than bachelor's degree holders of the same discipline. They also report feeling more intellectually stimulated at work and believe they contribute to society more than bachelor's degree holders.

Pursue Clinical Psychology

Students often use their master's degree in psychology as a stepping stone toward earning a doctoral degree in psychology to become a clinical psychologist. While not all doctoral programs require students to possess master's degrees, it can help make you a more competitive candidate.

Become a Counselor

Another common reason psychology students attend graduate school is to become a counselor. Students can start working as counselors as soon as they complete graduate school and take their state's licensing exam.

Counselors in all specialties will be in high demand over the coming years. The need for mental health counselors, school and career counselors, and rehabilitation counselors will each rise 23%, 11%, and 10%, respectively, between 2020 and 2030.

Work an Office Job

An education in psychology does not limit you to a career as a counselor or therapist. Organizations in both the public and private sectors across various industries seek candidates with backgrounds in psychology.

Careers in marketing, journalism, and human resources are just a few examples of the fields available to you. If you already have a master's degree in psychology and you're ready to enter the workforce, you may want to consider some of these career paths that a bachelor's in psychology or master's can prepare you for.

Industrial organizational psychologists also work in corporate settings. With a master's degree in psychology, you can easily pivot to this specialty. Industrial organizational psychologists measure employee satisfaction and productivity, help with recruiting, and conduct research on consumer behavior.

Alternative Doctoral Programs for Psychology Majors

We've discussed the main career paths open to you if you hold a master's degree in psychology and are ready to enter the workforce. However, what if you are interested in pursuing a doctorate but decided against becoming a clinical psychologist or researcher?

There are still plenty of other routes you can pursue with a master's degree in psychology under your belt. The following are just some of the options available to you, not an exhaustive list.

Doctor of Criminal Justice

If you have a passion for exploring the link between psychology and crime, a doctorate in criminal justice (DCJ) may suit you well. You can gain a deeper understanding of topics like police policies, wrongful convictions, and recidivism, enabling you to influence public policies in your work.

The DCJ is fairly new to academia. The first program in the U.S. was launched in 2017 at the California University of Pennsylvania. A few others have joined the ranks since. However, doctoral programs in criminal justice or criminology have been around longer. They focus mainly on research, while the DCJ prepares you to be an advanced criminal justice practitioner.

With a DCJ, you can seek employment in leadership roles at investigation firms, federal, state and local police agencies, corrections, district attorneys' offices, and government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

Some examples of roles you could take on with a DCJ include emergency management director and information security analyst.

Emergency Management Director
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$42,230 $76,250 $142,870 6%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Information Security Analyst
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$60,060 $103,590 $163,300 33%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctor of Public Health

If you seek a career in helping people, but don't want to engage on an individual level as counselors and therapists do, a career in public health might be right for you.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the professionals that study and seek to improve public health have been spotlighted in the media. The academic discipline explores the various threats to the health of a population, including infectious diseases and mental health.

Assistant professor of pediatrics and EMS medical director Dr. Sylvia Owusu-Ansah told U.S. News that "there is no time like the present" to enter the field. "With the repercussions of COVID, we're going to need more public health specialists in developed and developing societies," she said.

An educational background in psychology is a boon for a career in public health, as mental health is a major factor in a person's overall wellness. With a doctorate in public health, you could become a public health researcher, an epidemiologist, a bioU.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsian, or a public health consultant.

Epidemiologist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$49,140 $74,560 $126,040 30%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctor of Education

A background in psychology can make you a great candidate for leadership roles in various industries. Leadership requires excellent collaboration and communication skills, a strong moral compass, a high level of self-awareness, and finely tuned critical thinking skills. These same qualities directly overlap with characteristics of psychologists.

By earning a doctor of education (EdD), you will be qualified to take on the highest leadership roles within academia. The EdD should not be confused with the doctor of philosophy in education, which is designed to prepare graduates for research and teaching roles.

With an EdD, you can become an academic dean, college president, chief learning officer, provost, or a school principal. During your doctoral studies, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your communication, assessment, and management skills.

Postsecondary Education Administrator
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$56,310 $97,500 $199,400 8%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctor of Anthropology or Archaeology

An understanding of the origins of human civilization helps make sense of the world we live in today. And a background in psychology pairs perfectly with this study.

Doctoral programs in anthropology cover subjects like archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and culture. Social problems like sexism, racism, environmental conservation, and inequities in access to resources are some of the issues that anthropologists address in their work.

Graduates can be employed as teachers, professors, researchers, and as faculty at museums. But they can work in nonacademic fields too. Major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft hire anthropologists to interpret market trends and study human behavior.

Anthropologist and Archaeologist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$40,800 $66,130 $102,770 7%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Additional Resources for Psychology Graduate Students

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