Adolescent Psychology Degree Program Overviews
Adolescent psychology is a concentration area offered in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in psychology. Bachelor's programs offer students the basic skills needed in adolescent counseling. Master's degree programs in psychology prepare students to work with a diverse population of adolescents in a variety of settings. A doctoral degree program in psychology prepares students to take state examinations for clinical psychologist licensure and board certification.
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
The curriculum encourages communication and research skills that can be applied to the emotional support and treatment of adolescents. Areas of focus are adolescent development and cognition, as well as abnormal and educational psychology. Students develop critical thinking skills used in psychological testing and assessment and learn ethical practices in adolescent counseling.
Towards the close of the program, students complete an internship experience working with children in a clinical or educational setting. Applicants are required to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate to gain admission to the program.
Research coursework focuses on psychological testing procedures like the use of surveys, play therapies and independent observation. Other courses include topics like:
- Personality theory
- Child and adolescent disorders
- Human services
- Special needs children
Popular Career Options
Employment opportunities exist in a variety of areas, including schools, youth services organizations and juvenile rehabilitation centers. Potential job titles for graduates include:
- Youth counselor
- Case manager
- Social services assistant
Master of Arts in Psychology
Students can choose the child and adolescent psychology concentration, which blends coursework in psychology and counseling with adolescent development and behavior. This 2-year program is also offered in an accelerated format, which would allow students to complete the program in 11 months or less.
The curriculum is research-intensive and requires students to complete a major research project that can be applied to a real-world work situation. Students gain experience working with a diverse group of clients, interviewing individuals and families and evaluating clients for mental illness and substance abuse. Admittance typically requires a bachelor's degree, 3.0 undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation and a personal statement essay.
Coursework prepares students to develop assessment and counseling skills and to apply psychological theories to the treatment of adolescents and children. Course topics might include:
- Family dynamics
- Juvenile delinquency
- Death and loss
Popular Career Options
Graduates find careers in counseling, education, community services and more. Popular career titles for recent graduates are:
- Case manager
- Organizational psychologist
- Psychologist assistant
Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
Offered with child and adolescent psychology as a concentration area, students prepare to treat adolescents and children for emotional problems like substance abuse, behavior disorders, anxiety and trauma. This program includes studies in diagnostic procedures, mental illness and therapeutic interventions.
Generally a 5-year program, students complete a 2-year clerkship where they work with student mentors in the areas of research, statistics and writing. Towards the close of the program, students complete coursework that prepares them to take state licensing examinations. The program culminates in an internship experience and clinical practicum working with adolescents in a clinical setting.
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, 3.2 undergraduate GPA and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Prospective students should also complete prerequisite coursework in statistics, abnormal psychology and adolescent development. Three letters of recommendation and an essay are also required for enrollment.
Students prepare to complete a doctoral dissertation through research clerkships in statistics and qualitative research. Other coursework includes topics such as:
- Adolescent cognition
- Adolescent depression
- Pharmacological treatments
- Art therapy
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, of the 98,330 clinical, counseling and school psychologists employed in the U.S., 34% of these were self-employed (www.bls.gov). Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of clinical, counseling and school psychologists in 2009 was $66,040. Jobs in this profession were also expected to grow by 12% between the years 2008 and 2018.
Graduates are eligible to sit for examinations that result in state licensure in clinical psychology. State licensing requirements vary so graduates should check with their state boards for a complete list of education and clinical experience requirements. Graduates who obtain state licensure and who have three years of supervised clinical experience are eligible for board certification through the American Academy of Clinical Psychology.
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