Abnormal Psychology Degree Program Overviews
While there aren't any degree programs in abnormal psychology, it's a usually part of the psychology curricula at the bachelor's and master's degree levels; doctoral students may focus their research on abnormal psychology as well. While a Master of Science in Psychology is sufficient for some job opportunities, individuals interested in clinical and private practice must earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology.
Bachelor's Degrees in Psychology
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Psychology degrees generally offer coursework in abnormal psychology, although the Bachelor of Science curriculum often requires more science classes. Students trained in psychology are introduced to the theories and concepts underpinning applied psychology. Coursework provides a basis for learning to analyze human behavior and its complexities, such as motivation, learning, cognitive ability and human emotional development. Applicants seeking entrance to bachelor's degree programs must have a high school diploma or its equivalent plus scores from college entrance exams.
A bachelor's degree program in psychology often includes general educational requirements as well and introductory and some advanced topics in psychology. Original research projects may be required. Students may take classes in:
- Principles of psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Basic conditioning and learning
- Abnormal psychology
- Theories of personality
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in psychology may be qualified for entry-level employment with companies or organizations that offer mental health services, social services or education. Graduates may consider careers like:
- Psychologist's administrative assistant
- Vocational rehabilitation assistant
- Training facilitator
- Social worker's assistant
Few entry-level jobs in the field can be obtained with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs who want to be practicing clinical psychologists or perform original research in abnormal psychology will need to continue their education at the graduate level, with a master's degree or a master's degree and a doctoral degree, depending on their career goals.
Master's Degree in Psychology
The study of abnormal psychology is commonly part of a broader degree program that leads to a Master of Science in Psychology. Areas of specialization include cognition and behavior, clinical psychology or neuroscience. Coursework coupled with clinical experience gives students a thorough grasp of necessary theories and concepts in like counseling, research methods, history of psychology and statistical methods. A master's degree program prepares students for continued study in a doctoral degree program or employment upon graduation.
Students seeking entrance to a master's degree program must first have a bachelor's degree in psychology. Schools may consider applicants with a bachelor's degree in a related field. Previous coursework in research methods and statistics may also be desired.
Seminars and coursework at the master's level includes close study of advanced topics in psychology, such as clinical theory, cognition and human development. Internships and clinical requirements are common. Some courses topics include:
- Personality and psychopathology
- Culture and cognition
- Psychotic disorders
- Behavior theory
- Ethics and legal issues in psychological practice
Popular Career Options
An advanced degree in psychology may qualify graduates for job opportunities in various fields of psychology in education or social services settings. Popular career choices include:
- Research assistant
- Industrial/organizational psychologist
- School counselor
Students wishing to counsel individuals in a clinical setting or in private practice will need a doctorate degree and licensure as mandated by states. Doctorate degree programs often allow students to concentrate more deeply in a specific area of psychology.
Doctoral Degree Programs in Psychology
A doctorate program is designed to train students to practice psychological medicine in a clinical environment. Psychologists help patients with emotional and life issues, such as death, divorce, relationships and behavior abnormalities. Students can either earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). Generally, those pursuing a Psy.D. will engage primarily in clinical practice whereas students pursuing a Ph.D. will focus on academic research that expands on the understanding of psychological concepts and theories.
While many programs require that incoming doctoral students hold a master's degree in psychology or a related field, others will consider applications from students holding only a bachelor's degree. Demonstrable experience, understanding and interest in psychology and research methods are generally required of applicants.
Advanced study and clinical practice in psychology at this level is generally tailored toward the student's area of concentration. Some course topics offered include:
- Fundamentals of learning
- Psychology and biology of fear and anxiety
- Motivation and behavior
- Biology of psychiatric disorders
- Abnormal psychology
- Biology of abnormal psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that psychologists could look forward to 12% growth in employment from 2008-1018 (www.bls.gov). In 2009, the BLS reported that clinical, counseling and school psychologists, who hold state licensing and certification and whose job responsibilities may include working with patients or clients exhibiting signs of abnormal psychology, were reported to earn a mean annual salary of $72,310.
The BLS also reported that industries that employ the greatest number of clinical, counseling and school psychologists are elementary and secondary schools, followed by other health practitioners and then individual and family services offices. According to the BLS, New Mexico has the highest concentration of employed school, clinical and counseling psychologists, awhile New Jersey has the highest annual mean salary.
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