What Degree in Psychology Do You Need to Be a Psychologist?


Diego Sanchez

What Degree in Psychology Do You Need to Be a Psychologist?

Psychology is a fascinating field that offers numerous career opportunities for those interested in understanding human behavior and helping others. If you aspire to be a psychologist, one of the first questions you may have is: What degree in psychology do you need?

Undergraduate Degrees in Psychology

If you are just starting your journey towards becoming a psychologist, an undergraduate degree is the first step. Most universities offer Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in psychology.

Bachelor of Arts (B.) in Psychology:

A B. in Psychology focuses on providing a broad understanding of human behavior and psychological theories. This degree often includes coursework in areas such as social psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive psychology.

Bachelor of Science (B. in Psychology typically has a more scientific and research-oriented approach. In addition to the core psychology courses, this degree may include coursework in statistics, research methods, and experimental psychology.

Graduate Degrees in Psychology

While an undergraduate degree provides foundational knowledge, most psychologists pursue advanced degrees to specialize in specific areas and practice as licensed professionals.

Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree is not always required to become a psychologist; however, it can enhance your knowledge and job prospects. Some common Master’s degrees include:

  • Master of Arts (M.) or Master of Science (M.)

    in Psychology: These degrees often allow for specialization within specific areas like clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology.

  • Master of Social Work (M.W. ): A degree in social work can also lead to a career in psychology, particularly in areas of counseling and therapy.

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is typically required to work as a licensed psychologist and engage in independent practice. There are two main types of doctoral degrees in psychology:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology: A Ph. focuses on research and academia, emphasizing the scientific study of human behavior.
  • Doctor of Psychology (Psy.): A Psy. program places more emphasis on clinical training and prepares individuals to work directly with patients.

Licensing and Certification

In addition to earning the appropriate degree, psychologists must also obtain a license to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state or country, but they typically involve completing supervised clinical hours and passing a licensing exam.

Certification is optional but can demonstrate expertise and specialization within a particular area of psychology. Organizations like the American Board of Professional Psychology offer certifications in various specialties such as clinical psychology, forensic psychology, or school psychology.

In conclusion, the degree required to become a psychologist depends on your career goals and the level of independence you seek in your practice. An undergraduate degree is essential, while advanced degrees like a Master’s or Doctorate provide specialized knowledge for specific career paths. Remember to check licensing requirements in your jurisdiction to ensure you meet all necessary criteria.