What Are Some Alternatives to Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Psychology?

While psychology graduate programs can be the perfect fit for those with strong interests in research, students who wish to focus on clinical mental health practice may want to consider alternatives to a master’s degree in psychology. Many undergraduate psychology majors choose to study psychology in graduate school by default; however, the best thing about a bachelor’s degree in psychology is that is provides well-rounded preparation for earning a master’s degree in a number of different areas. If research is not your cup of tea, read on to learn more about the other alternative graduate school options available to work in psychology-related careers of the mental health field.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Similar to a master’s degree in psychology, the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is designed to train graduate students in psychotherapy techniques to help individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities overcome problems. That being said, the MSW degree will not provide the essential preparation needed to conduct psychological testing. Graduate social work programs typically range in length from two to three years full-time, and include hands-on practical experience in the mental health field through internships. After completing a master’s degree in social work, graduates may work as general psychotherapists or pursue the credential of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to practice in particular states.

Master of Arts/Science in Counseling

With little or no courses required in psychological assessment, theory, or research, Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degrees in Counseling focus on training graduate students with the psychotherapy techniques that are needed to work as counselors. If you enjoy working directly with people and have solid interpersonal skills, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s degree for clinical mental health counseling, community counseling, addictions counseling, school counseling, or marriage and family counseling. Once you finish completion of the generally two-year full-time program, you will need to receive at least two years of supervised practical experience to become licensed as a counselor.

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

For students who have already earned an undergraduate degree related to psychology, pursuing a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree can be the perfect option for applying your knowledge of human behavior in a classroom environment. While you may not want to become certified to teach in elementary or secondary schools, there are a number of different concentrations available in M.Ed. programs aside from teacher preparation. For instance, you may want to focus your studies in counseling, developmental studies, special education, educational psychology, school psychology, curriculum planning, educational assessment, educational technology, and more. Graduates with a M.Ed. degree go on to find employment in schools, child welfare programs, community clinics, residential care centers, universities, private practices, and other therapy services related to the treatment of children.

If you have determined that a master’s degree in psychology is not the best option for helping you fulfill your personal goals in the mental health field, it is important to consider the other related alternative programs that are available to choose from. In order to find the best alternatives to a master’s degree in psychology, be sure to carefully consider all of the other graduate degree options before determining which degree best matches your learning needs.

Related Resource: Psychology Specialities