Psychology Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

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What career options are there if you have a degree in psychology? Read on to know about the requirements, courses, online options, and the pros and cons of an associate versus a bachelor's degree in psychology.
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Undergraduate Psychology Degrees at a Glance

Psychologists study and analyze human mental processes, behavior, personalities and the collective and individual unconscious. As a student, you will get to gain an insight in how the human mind works and why people act the way they do through observation and interpretation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment prospects for psychologists to grow by 12 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is average compared to all occupations surveyed. It also estimates the job prospects to be the highest for those with a doctorate degree in an applied or specialist field such as school psychology.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for -Aspiring psychiatric technicians or social services assistants
-Individuals preparing for a bachelor's degree
For individuals who wish to work in social services as counselors and rehabilitation specialists or in business as managers or supervisors
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Psychiatric technicians ($31,130)*
- Psychiatric aides ($26,220)*
- Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists ($68,900)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 3-4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - To complete a total of 60 credit hours, with psychology concentration comprising a total of 18 hours Total credits needed to graduate are roughly 120
Prerequisites High School Diploma High School Diploma or Associate Degree in Psychology
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014).

Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

A bachelor's degree in psychology can be taken as either Bachelor of Science in Psychology or as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In the science-based option, you will study the application of psychology in workplaces and enroll in some business-oriented courses. Students taking the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology take courses in humanities, social sciences and arts, to adequately prepare them for careers in social services.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Flexible degree with several specializations
  • Internships can prepare you for employment
  • Pathway towards enrolling for a master's degree program

Cons

  • Intensive program that involves a lot of research and collaborating in group assignments
  • The competitive job market means fewer job prospects for those with undergraduate degrees
  • Compared to other majors, degree holders in psychology make less money

Course Requirements

The courses taken for a bachelor's degree in psychology differ depending on whether you pursue a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. In this 3- to 4-year degree, students are required to cover common coursework in literature, life sciences, speech, and math, basic and advanced psychology as well as the history of the field of psychology. Extensive research is also required. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology often take extra business and science courses. Students in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program typically focus more on liberal arts topics.

Online Degree Options

Since much of the coursework in the degree is theoretical, students can take online classes. There are several accredited and unaccredited institutions offering this degree. Prospective students are advised to carefully scrutinize any institution to avoid rejection of their qualifications by employers that they wish to work for in future.

How to Stand Out

The job market for degree holders in psychology is becoming competitive. Holders of this degree who wish to stand out are advised to pursue a master's degree in psychology in order to open doors to more career opportunities. While pursuing the degree, ensure that you enlist for internship programs to allow you to bridge the gap between the theoretical concepts and the practical aspects of the job. You should also keep abreast of the latest developments in psychology to ensure that you are conversant with such trends.

Associate Degree in Psychology

An associate degree in psychology acts as a stepping stone towards the bachelor's degree in the field. It also equips you with the skills and qualifications needed to become a psychiatric technician in state mental hospitals or as a psychiatric aide. This allows you to work with individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job prospects for psychiatric aides and technicians to grow by 5 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is slower than the average for all occupations surveyed.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Acts as a stepping stone for an undergraduate degree in psychology through transfer of credits
  • Takes just 2 years to complete
  • It also hones your interpersonal, communication and organizational skills, as you will spend most of your time attending to patients' needs

Cons

  • Relatively few career choices
  • Work as a psychiatric technician may expose you to high risk of injury from mentally-ill patients
  • Relatively low salary prospects compared to other associate degrees

Course Requirements

Students pursuing an associate degree in psychology are required to take courses in Western civilization, writing skills, public speaking, lab sciences and statistics. Additional classes include learning process and sensory perception, history of psychology, and human psychological development. The course usually has 3-4 electives, which include abnormal psychology, educational psychology and social psychology.

Online Degree Options

Much of the coursework in this program is theoretical. This makes it possible to take classes online. Owing to a large number of both accredited and unaccredited institutions offering this course, carefully scrutinize the institution you want to enroll in to check whether it is accredited or not.

How to Stand Out

If you wish to stand out in this field, try to obtain a certification from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT). This not only helps you gain recognition - it also opens up more advancement opportunities. After completing this degree, consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology in order to boost your employment prospects.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Psychology
      • B.A. - Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Psychology
      • B.S. - Psychology - Organizational Behavior
      • B.S. - Psychology - Consumer Behavior
  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

  • Online Programs Available
    4. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA / BS in Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Psychology
      • BA in Psychology - Mental Health
      • BA in Psychology - Addictions
      • BA in Psychology - Social Psychology
      • BS in Industrial & Organizational Psychology
      • BA Human Services Substance Abuse

Featured Schools

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Psychology

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Colorado Technical University

  • B.S. - Psychology
  • B.S. - Psychology - Organizational Behavior
  • B.S. - Psychology - Consumer Behavior

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Excelsior College

  • BA / BS in Psychology

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Southern New Hampshire University

  • BA in Psychology
  • BA in Psychology - Mental Health
  • BA in Psychology - Addictions

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