A student doesn’t have to have the intentions of earning a doctorate to specialize an associate’s degree in psychology. While psychologists are required under state law to possess a Ph.D. in Psychology before they can be licensed, there are other paths that professionals with a passion for the field can travel down with an undergraduate degree.
Students who only want to go to school for 18 to 24 months would be best suited to enter into an associate-level college degree program. There are also bachelor’s degree programs in psychology for students who have an associate’s already or for students who have the time to dedicate two additional years to their studies. If you’re planning to start by earning your two-year degree, here’s how to specialize it in psychology.
Are There Accredited Undergraduate Psychology Programs?
You must make selecting the right program your priority, no matter what the level of study. Most psychology majors looking for a program after they’ve earned their bachelor’s are aware that they need to choose a program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association, or APA for short. This is a professional association that offers both accreditations and also participates in advancing the field as a whole.
The APA does accredit both master’s and doctoral programs, but there is not an existing accreditation practice through the association to accredit undergraduate programs. Since associate’s programs can’t apply for major-specific accolades through the APA, it can make the selection of programs difficult when you’re searching for accreditation for psychology specifically.
Tips to Choosing the Right Program
The APA may not go through the evaluation and assessment stages of reviewing undergraduate programs, but they did draft up a guide to help undergraduate psychology majors choose the right school. The APA Guidelines help to ensure that there are high-quality options in a field where graduate degrees are the focus. The key is to look through the student learning outcomes suggested in the guidelines to see which programs are selecting these appropriate goals.
What Will You Study?
As an undergrad, you will be studying broader domains than grad students. The purpose of an Associate-level program is to really help students build a strong foundation of knowledge. They will not be experts in psychology but they will have a framework to build off of if they decide to move on to a bachelor’s. Some required courses include:
- Intro to Psychology
- Psychology Research
- Human Development
- Social Issues
- Abnormal Psychology
What Can You Do With Your Degree?
While many employers are looking for professionals who possess a bachelor’s or higher, there are still careers at the associate’s level. With your A.S. majoring in psychology, you will be eligible for roles in human services, counseling, nursing assistants, home care, and rehabilitation center aides. Salaries range depending on your level of experience.
Students may want to pursue their dreams and transition to a new career without having to plan to study for six to eight years. Just the thought of going to school for close to a decade can be intimidating. For those who want to work in psychology at some level, going back to school can be done in just a few semesters when they specialize an associate’s psychology degree.