What Kinds of Degrees Are Available in Counseling and Psychology?

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Counseling and Psychology Degrees

Counselors and psychologists help people live happier lives. Psychologists’ advanced training helps them treat people with serious disorders. Counseling and psychology degrees prepare students for these careers. Many top schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both subjects. Some schools also feature undergraduate and graduate certificates.

This page explains certificates and degrees in psychology and counseling. Prospective students can contact schools to learn about on-campus and online counseling and psychology degrees.

Associate Degree in Counseling and Psychology

Students seeking an associate degree in counseling need a high school or GED diploma. Potential courses include introduction to human communication and the counselor in a multicultural society. Students learn counseling skills and complete general education courses. Full-time learners can complete an associate degree in two years. Graduates may work as psychiatric technicians or human services assistants.

An associate degree in psychology features similar application requirements and general education courses. Core coursework covers relational psychology and psychology throughout the lifespan. Graduates may work as mental health caseworkers, counselors’ aides, or crisis intervention aides.

Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology

Full-time enrollees can complete counseling and psychology bachelor’s degrees in four years. Learners with an associate degree need only 1-2 years. Bachelor’s programs use the same application requirements as associate programs. Counseling coursework covers ethics in professional settings and the counselor’s role. Many case managers and residential site coordinators hold bachelor’s in counseling degrees.

Bachelor’s in psychology programs require core courses in social psychology and research methods. Students also learn about cognition and the brain. Some programs feature a capstone project in the final semester. Psychology students can customize the curriculum with electives. Graduates may work in the social services or criminal justice fields.

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Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychology

Students seeking a master’s degree in psychology and counseling first need a bachelor’s degree. Most master’s programs take two years to complete. Learners can enroll in a master’s in counseling program to qualify for a license.

Typical core courses include whole lifespan development and group counseling. Students also complete practicums and internships. Both experiences play a role in earning licensure. Some programs offer tracks aligned with careers, such as school counselor.

Master’s in psychology programs may feature forensic psychology or Ph.D. preparation tracks. The curriculum covers adult development and research methods. Students also learn ethics in clinical psychology. Graduates not enrolling in a Ph.D. program may qualify for promotions.

Doctoral Degree in Counseling and Psychology

A Ph.D. in counseling or psychology qualifies learners to teach at the college level. Ph.D. in counseling graduates may also work as clinical supervisors or advanced practitioners. Top programs require a master’s in counseling or a related field. Degree-seekers take courses in counseling education, research methods, and university teaching. Some programs need a dissertation or thesis.

Ph.D. in psychology programs’ application requirements include a bachelor’s or master’s in psychology. A Ph.D. program may take up to eight years. Students complete coursework in cognitive behavior and biopsychology. Graduates who do not enter academia may work as educational consultants or political strategists.

Certificate in Counseling and Psychology

A certificate in counseling can help learners earn graduate-level credit without committing to a master’s or doctoral program. Specialization tracks include addictive behavior, family therapy, and contemporary theory in mental health services. Some students take courses in theories of addiction treatment and group therapy. Many certificate-seekers graduate in fewer than 12 months.

Students seeking a certificate in psychology need a bachelor’s degree in any subject. Certificate programs offer statistical reasoning, perception and cognition, and abnormal psychology courses. Some certificates help learners prepare for master’s or doctoral programs. Most students graduate in 12 months or fewer.

true Q. How does a certificate differ from a degree?

Certificates require fewer courses and graduation requirements than degrees. As a result, graduates may not experience as many benefits as professionals with master’s or doctoral degrees.

true Q. Why would someone who has a degree choose a certificate program?

Degree holders can enroll in certificate programs to learn new skills quickly. A certificate may count toward licensure or certification renewal requirements.

true Q. Who is qualified to participate in a certificate program?

Application requirements vary by certificate. Some certificates accept learners who graduated high school or passed the GED exam. Others limit applicants to those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Q. What kind of salary or career boost might a certificate provide?

Many certificates prepare students for entry-level careers or promotions. Certificates can make applicants’ resumes more attractive to hiring managers. Certificate holders may also make themselves more competitive for raises or better-paying jobs.

Counseling and Psychology Additional Accreditation to Consider

Schools offering counseling and psychology degrees should hold regional accreditation. Top psychology programs at the graduate level earn programmatic accreditation from the American Psychological Association. Graduate-level counseling programs earn accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Some CACREP-accredited counseling programs hold accreditation from the Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). MPCAC accreditation indicates a program uses a rigorous, career-aligned curriculum. MPCAC also accredits some psychology programs.

Licensure for Counseling or Psychology

States regulate the counseling and psychology fields through licensure. Counseling and psychology degrees help learners fulfill some licensure requirements. Licensure candidates can meet other requirements within 1-2 years of graduating. Incoming certificate- and degree-seekers can work with career counselors to develop licensure checklists and timelines.

Psychologists need a license to practice. Requirements vary by state but may include a doctorate, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Psychologists renew their license every two years by earning continuing education (CE) credits from approved providers.

Counselors may need a license, depending on their job title. State boards regulate licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs). Typical requirements include a master’s degree, supervised experience, and a passing exam score. LPCCs and other licensed counselors maintain their license by earning CE credits. A state’s board of licensure website lists these and other requirements.

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