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2020 Psychology Degree Guide

The field of Psychology involves the scientific study of the human mind and human behavior. There are a variety of majors and concentrations available for students to choose a specialization in a certain interest. Coursework involves work in the lab and the library conducting research, as well as group project assignments and time spent in the field interacting with clients and patients.

There are a few different majors that are available to you depending on what college you choose. You can choose to pursue your degree in General Psychology allows you to study behavior and research methods as you answering difficult and thought provoking questions. For more practical training, you may want to choose to study Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology. This is a great choice for those who wish to pursue careers as counselors. Students can also major in Child Development and Psychology in order to learn how people develop and grow through their life.

An Increase in Psychology Degrees

#8 Most Popular Major
175k Degrees Awarded
1.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, psychology was the 8th most popular major nationwide with 175,257 degrees awarded. This is a difference of 1,908 over the prior year, a growth of 1.1%.

Approximately 1,476 colleges in the U.S. offer a psychology degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for Psychology ranking compares 835 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Explore this or one of our many other custom psychology rankings further below.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Psychology

The field of Psychology requires a student who is deeply interested in people and also enjoys math and science. You will be spending time writing lab reports as well as research papers. Students develop adept critical thinking skills as they analyze scientific papers, gather research and make observation. You will also work with numbers and formulas to analyze data.

Students should have a passion for working with people and a desire to help people lead better lives. Many majors involve an internship or some sort of field work. Make good use of any practical experience in order to help you find a job later on. Work in the field also helps you empathize with others and become a better listener.

Prior Education for a Psychology Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most psychology degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic psychology program qualifications, to serve in some psychology careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Psychology Degree Types

There are various different levels of psychology degrees. Psychology programs offered by schools range from a first year certificate to a professional practice doctorate, which is the highest psychology degree you can get. How long it takes to complete some common psychology degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to psychology, with approximately 29.4% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for psychology workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 29.8%
Master’s Degree 22.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 17.2%
Doctoral Degree 16.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate 4.4%

About 61.8% of workers in careers related to psychology obtain at least master's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in psychology have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which psychology career you choose.

Psychology Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$33.5k Average Starting Salary
9% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

A major in the field of Psychology is usually a stepping stone for an advanced degree. A master's degree will allow you to become a school psychologist or work in some areas of counseling. A doctorate degree is required to become a psychologist. If student choose not to continue their education they may be able to find jobs in social work, marketing, sales, human resources or any other field that involves interacting and understanding people.

Solid Growth Projected for Psychology Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your psychology degree? Psychology careers are expected to grow 9.1% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to psychology.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists 168,500 14.2%
Psychology Professors 54,000 15.1%
Psychologists 19,200 10.3%
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists 1,800 5.9%

How Much Money Do Psychology Grads Make?

Recently graduated psychology students earned an average of $33,462 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $10,400 to as high as $93,100. As you might expect, salaries for psychology graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Psychology Careers

Salaries for psychology graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers psychology grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $109,030
Psychologists $95,610
Psychology Professors $88,490
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists $85,340

Getting Your Psychology Degree

With over 5,891 different psychology degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased psychology school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Psychology

Psychology Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
General Psychology 131,061
Clinical, Counseling & Applied Psychology 29,110
Child Development & Psychology 11,968
Other Psychology 3,118

View All Psychology Related Majors >

Majors Similar to Psychology

Related Major Annual Graduates
Education 306,214
Social Sciences 199,576
Communication & Journalism 120,570
Family, Consumer & Human Sciences 60,305
History 32,644

View All Psychology Related Majors >


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