Psychologists study the behavior, emotions and thinking processes of humans and animals to better understand their behavior. School psychologists and some community mental health psychologists hold at least a master’s degree in psychology. Clinical psychologists hold doctorates in clinical psychology and work directly with patients through interviews, case histories, observation and special diagnostic tests to try to help them deal with their problems. Psychologists may teach, conduct research, or serve as consultants.


College preparatory courses while in high school are recommended. A strong background in science and math is important, along with courses in English, history, social studies and a foreign language.  High school graduation is required to enter a college degree program in psychology. A master’s degree, but preferably a doctorate in psychology, is required to practice in the field of psychology. A Master’s of Psychology degree takes about six years of college course work. There are two types of programs: a general master’s degree which prepares graduates for doctoral study; and, a professional terminal master’s degree which prepares graduates for immediate employment in an applied setting, such as a community mental health clinic, business and industry, and school systems.  A Doctor’s of Philosophy in psychology takes about eight to ten years at a college or university to complete. It is the preferred level of education to practice psychology.

Psychologists are required to be licensed or certified by a state board in order to engage in the independent and unsupervised practice of psychology. The board requires completion of a doctorate in psychology, two years of supervised work experience plus successful scores on a certification exam before granting the applicant a license to practice psychology.


According to the American Psychological Association, psychologists have good employment opportunities with doctoral degrees in clinical counseling, health and industrial/organizational psychology. Those with substantial technical training in quantitative research methods and computer applications will be especially marketable.

Psychologists work in a variety of settings depending upon their area of specialization.  As teachers, psychologists work in universities, colleges and high schools; as researchers, many are employed by government, the military, and business; as service providers, psychologists work in clinical settings to provide counseling to individuals and families. As administrators, you might find psychologists employed by hospitals, mental health clinics, government agencies, universities, and business. Many psychologists choose to work as consultants and advise businesses and other organizations on specific subjects or problem areas.


American Psychological Association
750 1st St. N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
(800) 374- 2721