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

Walden University
MS in General Psychology
MS in Health Psychology
MS in Social Psychology
Walden University - Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Walden offers several programs in psychology including one of the few online MS in Clinical Psychology degrees as well as a general program. Students can choose between the counseling and general specializations.
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Sacred Heart University
MS in Applied Psychology
MSAP in Community Psychology
MSAP in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Sacred Heart University - "The Master of Science in Applied Psychology offered by Sacred Heart University is a uniquely versatile credential, offering two specializations as well as a general track. Sacred Heart has been consistently ranked among the top masters colleges in the country. Built on a research-driven core, our MSAP is taught in small, highly interactive online classes by an award-winning faculty."
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Grand Canyon University
MS in General Psychology
MS in Health Psychology
Grand Canyon University - "Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in General Psychology is a program designed for individuals who desire promotion and/or continued academic exposure in the field of psychology. The program focuses on the development of critical thinking and leadership qualities."
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Purdue University
MS: Psych - Applied Behavioral Analysis
MS in Psychology
MSPY in General Psychology
MSPY in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Purdue University - Purdue 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. Purdue 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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Chicago School of Professional Psychology
MA in Psychology
MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology
MS in Applied Behavior Analysis
Chicago School of Professional Psychology - "The M.A. in Psychology, Child and Adolescent Concentration online program focuses on factors that affect child development and behavior. Graduates of the program will be prepared to enter careers in a number of fields. Students who enroll in the program that does not interfere with other commitments."
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Northcentral University
MA in Psychology
MS in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
MA in Psychology: Gender Diversity Studies
MS in Health 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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Liberty University
MS in Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology
MA in Counseling - Crisis Response and Trauma
MA in Counseling - Executive Leadership
MA in Counseling - Life Coaching
Liberty University - "An M.A. in Human Services — Crisis Response and Trauma will: Equip you to help meet the needs of individuals, groups, and organizations who are mitigating the effects of post-traumatic stress, critical incident stress, and personal crises. Provide you with an understanding of how crises impact a person’s ability to function in everyday life, and its effects on their relationships."
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Southern New Hampshire University
MS in Psychology
MS in Child & Developmental Psychology
MS in Industrial & Organizational Psychology
Southern New Hampshire University - "The rapidly changing professional landscape of the 21st century has led to a growing demand for individuals with a formal psychology background. Industries such as business, marketing, education, health services, criminal justice, sports management, and information technology are increasingly seeking out individuals with these credentials to help improve performance, motivation, and general well-being within organizations."
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Find a Master of Clinical Psychology Degree