Do Most Students Pursuing a Master’s in Psychology have an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology?

Many students assume that they need an undergraduate degree in psychology before attending graduate school for psychology. Designed to give students more than just a passing familiarity with the topic, graduate schools look for applicants with a strong foundation and background. You must take courses in various psychological topics and a variety of pre-requisites, but you’ll also need to posses some strong research and writing skills. While most students working towards their Master’s in Psychology do have an undergrad degree in the same topic, it’s possible for students to attend a graduate program with a different degree.

Core Courses

Before attending graduate school, you need to take some core psychology courses as an undergrad. Many grad schools require that students take one or more math classes, including at least one course in statistics. Statistics courses will help you better understand bell curves, median scores and other factors associated with conducting research. You’ll also need to take psychology courses that include abnormal psychology, developmental psychology and social psychology. Depending on the school, it might also require that you have at least one undergraduate course in the history of psychology or research methods on your transcript.

Related Majors

Some of the students attending graduate school do not have an undergraduate degree in psychology. A large number of students have a degree in a related topic, including social work or sociology. The social sciences are related fields that deal with how people think and act, what makes people behave in different ways and issues that affect the general population. In addition to psychology, some students have a communications degree, which shows them how to interact with people and how to form better relationships with others. Students with a degree in a field that requires intense research, including history and economics, may also do well in a psychology graduate program.

What if You Have a Different Degree?

If you do not have a psychology degree, you can still apply for a graduate program. Most schools require that you take the basic courses on campus before beginning the program. While some of your courses will transfer, if you have a lack of core psychology classes on your transcript, you’ll need to take those classes at your new school. If you received a low score in one or more core classes, some schools will require that you retake those courses and receive a higher grade before beginning the program.

Other Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most jobs in the field require more than an undergraduate degree in psychology. You’ll need a Master’s in Psychology to work in some fields and a PhD to work in the counseling and researching fields. When you apply for a position in a graduate school with a degree in another field, you need to explain why you changed to a new program. Most grad schools ask you to write an extended essay, which gives you the chance to show why you are a good fit for that program.

Before you can enter graduate school, you must have an undergraduate degree or be near the end of your undergraduate program. While many students enrolled in these programs do have an undergraduate degree in psychology, you can enter the program with a degree in another field.