Why study a masters in psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behaviour.  Study a masters in psychology and it will open up many future study and career opportunities.

Psychology governs how people think, feel and behave and considers the external factors that influence these behaviours. Understanding how this happens is one of the most interesting academic subjects available at masters level because it applies to every aspect of our lives.

Psychology is a very popular masters degree subject because students can progress from an undergraduate degree in a different subject. It attracts many students from widely different backgrounds and there are a number of different areas you can specialise in at masters level.

Psychology is a social science and is offered as either a MA or MSc qualification. This is because psychology can be focused on the study of the arts and humanities (MA) or can have a more traditional analytical science base (MSc).

Students who studied an undergraduate degree in psychology will have considered the traditional psychology route by taking a course that has been accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This additional recognition means that a student will achieve Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, otherwise known as the GBC.

However, at masters level students may not have taken this option, so some masters degrees in psychology are conversion courses, which include this additional recognition.

What is included in a psychology masters degree

A Psychology masters course includes a number of core themes, and depending upon the specialisation of the degree there will be more or less focus.

Modules are likely to focus on: -

  • Statistics - a really important component because data analysis will provide the research evidence for particular trends or incidences of a particular behaviour.
  • Theories of psychology – many people are aware of the notable psychologists for whom theories have been named such as Freud and Yung. At masters level the study of these experts and the research they have published is at greater depth. A specific psychology course will be aligned closely to the areas of psychological study that the modules will be covering.
  • Research techniques and critical thinking – This is really valuable knowledge for all types of future career as well as being a core component of a psychology degree. Research is the component that allows your analysis to have significance because it provides the evidence that can be tested.

Different psychology masters subjects

There are may aspects to psychology which are focussed on important careers as well as potential research discoveries. Typical psychology masters degrees include aspects such as: -

  • Organisation, e.g. how psychology applies to business and employment,
  • Developmental, such as for children and in clinical and care settings
  • Forensic and criminological, as applied to the areas of the law and policing
  • Social care and counselling, such as is applied in social work or careers working with physical and emotional needs.

Career choices with a psychology degree (what can I do with a masters in psychology)

Psychology is applicable in all career settings, particularly those involving the public. Psychology masters degrees are very common among marketers and PR experts, and all individuals working in areas where they need to understand emotions and how people think and feel according to stimulus.

In addition, teaching and lecturing makes use of the skills that a psychology masters will offer because it offers a methodology for understanding and researching the way we learn.

The specific medical/technical areas such as clinical psychology, health and forensic as applied to work with police and military is an obvious pathway for candidates.

Organisations are always looking to understand better how to improve productivity as well as create working environments where employees feel both empowered and supported.

Exercise and sport is a very important area of focus for psychology. It is often repeated that winning teams are built upon self-belief as well as tiny improvements in physical performance.

Business sectors that employ psychology masters graduates

Companies welcome psychology graduates as much as they do candidates with specific technical skills. A psychology masters graduate will demonstrate a well-rounded set of skills in a variety of specific areas, backed by an excellent understanding of analysis and research methods.

This applies in careers focussed on marketing, sales, legal, publishing, and research, as well as the specialist public sector areas of teaching, government social and clinical services.

Salaries vary according to the point of entry and specialisation of an individual, but for most psychology graduates their average salaries were around £28,800 five years after graduation. In addition, on average over 82% of psychology graduates are in sustained employment or further study over the same period.

Next Steps (how to get your masters in psychology):