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Should You Get a Master's or Doctorate Degree in Psychology?

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Psychology Graduate School

Is a psychology graduate degree the right choice for you? Learn more about some of the factors you should consider.

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Question: Should You Get a Master's or Doctorate Degree in Psychology?

The decision of whether or not to earn a graduate degree is something that almost every psychology major must think about at some point. Learn more about some of the big questions you must ask before deciding if earning a master's or doctorate degree in psychology is the best choice for you.


Have you ever thought about getting an advanced degree in psychology? After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, going on to graduate school can be a very attractive option. In many cases, getting your master's, Ph.D. or Psy.D. can open up additional career avenues and contribute to professional advancement.

The question is - should you earn a master's or doctorate degree in psychology? Graduate study can be intensive, time-consuming and expensive, so you should give this question some serious thought. While only you can answer this question, considering a few basic issues can help you make this decision.

What Are Your Educational and Professional Goals?

Are you passionate about your subject? Do you have dreams of working in a profession that requires a graduate degree in psychology? If you can answer yes, then you are a great candidate for grad school. If, on the other hand, you are not really sure what you want to do academically and professionally, you may be better off waiting until you're ready to establish some clear goals.

Do You Have Time for Graduate School?

Graduate study requires a serious commitment of time and energy. Are you prepared to devote two to eight years in graduate school? Before you apply to a psychology graduate program, it is important to determine exactly how much time you have to devote to your studies. Some graduate programs offer part-time, evening or weekend only options, but most schools follow a more traditional schedule. Assess the specific requirements of the school you want to attend, and then take a serious look at your schedule. If you can manage the course-load and study obligations, then grad school might be a good fit.

Will Earning a Master's or Doctorate Degree in Psychology Lead to Professional Advancement?

Another important factor to consider is how earning a graduate degree in psychology will affect your current work. For many individuals, earning an advanced degree is a great way to open doors to new professional opportunities. Those with a master's or doctorate degree typically have more job options and earn more money than those with an undergraduate degree in psychology.

Do You Have the Skills Needed to Succeed in Grad School?

Motivation and commitment are just two of the characteristics that are essential for successful grad students. Strong academic abilities and great study skills are also necessary. The majority of graduate programs require at least a 3.0 GPA, but some programs have even higher standards. Be realistic about your abilities and your desire to succeed before you take this major step.

Have You Considered All of Your Options?

Simply deciding to go to graduate school is not enough. You also need to decide which type of degree is right for your academic and professional plans. Because there are so many different options for psychology major to choose from, this step is crucial. Spend some time exploring your career options and then research the education and training requirements for that specialty area.

For example, you might start out with a general goal of becoming some time of mental health therapist. Professional who provide such services include clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists. By thinking about where you want to work and the type of work you want to perform, you'll be able to get a clearer idea of which specialty area and academic path is suited to your needs and goals.

Final Thoughts

Getting an advanced degree in psychology is a major achievement, but it isn't right for everyone. Graduate school involves a major investment of both time and money, so it is important to get as much information as you can before making a choice. By considering your goals and assessing your abilities, you will be able to make the decision that is right for you.

More Psychology Education FAQ

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