Clinical Psychology: Undergraduate vs. Graduate

To become a clinical psychologist you must have an education background in psychology. Additionally, if you wish to become a practicing clinical psychologist you must hold a graduate degree.

Undergraduate Degree in Psychology

A bachelor’s degree in psychology provides an appropriate background to careers in psychology related fields, as well as professions that aren’t as directly related to psychology. An undergraduate education will prepare you to be both a good citizen and critical thinker. Therefore your skills and abilities acquired through your coursework will make you marketable to an array of future employees.

Undergraduate degrees cover human mind and behavior, and prepare you for graduate psychology study. They can also prepare students for studies in medicine and law. Typically a bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, although some students are capable of finishing in three, whereas others need five. Although the areas previously listed highlight what psychology degrees often prepare students for, they are not exclusive and many use the degree as a great tool for a variety of other fields of work as well.

Psychology programs are very popular at schools across the United States for a number of reasons. Due to what is typically included in the program, it is a great major to gain insight into understanding processes of the brain to help prepare students for a variety of jobs. Some of the top occupations that employ graduates of bachelor’s psychology degrees include:

  • Top- and mid-level management and administration
  • Sales
  • Social work
  • Other management occupations
  • Labor relations, personnel and training
  • Real estate, business services and insurance
  • Administrative positions
  • Marketing

Graduate Degrees in Psychology

To become a practicing clinical psychologist, you must get a graduate degree from an accredited university. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that some clinical psychology doctoral programs require an undergraduate degree in psychology.

In order to become a clinical psychologist, you must complete the graduate degree, clinical training or an internship, and have at least one to two years of professional experience. Finally you must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and state licensing tests. You can find more specific state requirements on the Association of State and Provincial Licensing Boards website. Typically licensed psychologists must complete continuing education courses to keep their licenses.

Graduate clinical psychology programs can take anywhere from four to seven years to complete. While not limited to these, graduate programs typically cover the following topics:

  • How to test and assess clients
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychopathology
  • Child psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Research skills and methods

Careers you can hold with a graduate degree include, but are not limited to:

  • Counseling psychologist
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Counselor
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Child development psychologist
  • School psychologist

Working as a clinical psychologist has a strong focus on interpersonal relationships, which are crucial to successfully getting to the root-cause of issues and establish trust on more intimate and issues people are less apt to discuss with those they don’t know. By emphasizing approach-ability and being able to make clients comfortable, clinical psychologists can best administer aid to those in need. The importance of a welcoming demeanor cannot be overstated and definitely helps one become a successful clinical psychologist.

The work done majoring in psychology as an undergraduate is a fantastic lead-in to graduate work in psychology and is strongly encouraged, and many times required, for those who wish to work in clinical psychology. When preparing for a career path in the field, it is very important to remain educated on what is needed to properly approach college, as to not be relegated to extra years in school.

Earn Your Clinical Psychology Degree

Kaplan University
MS: Psych - Applied Behavioral Analysis
MS: Psychology
Kaplan University - Kaplan University is one of the largest schools in the US, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Kaplan has over 170 programs that can be taken online including an MS in General Psychology or an MS in Psychology in Applied Behavioral Analysis.
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Northcentral University
MA: Psychology
Northcentral University - Northcentral University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. NCU has online programs for an MA in Health Psychology and an MA in General Psychology. These programs are well-suited for working professionals who must balance personal lives with their education.
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