The answer depends on your career aspirations. If you want to practice, in some capacity, or become a college professor, you will need a doctorate. To be a professional psychologist requires a Ph.D. or PsyD or Doctor of Psychology. The American Psychological Association distinguishes between these two degrees by the scope of study and application of the conferred degree. The Ph.D. student generally has more instruction in research techniques and statistics. Frequently, graduates with this degree seek jobs in a clinical setting, such as health services, counseling, and consulting for business or organizations. The PsyD takes a quantitative, as well as a qualitative approach to the study of psychology from a scientific viewpoint. Both degrees provide opportunities for client care.

The terminal degrees above may not be in most students’ plans. Many undergraduates enroll in psychology as their major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that it is the fifth most popular major in the most recent data of the 2015-2016 academic year. There were 117,440 bachelor’s degrees awarded. This number has been steady since the 2013-2014 school year. Compare this to the most popular major- business with 358,132 bachelor’s degrees for 2015-2016.

The number of Master’s degrees conferred in psychology for 2015-16 was 27,645, according to the NCES. This figure has been consistent since 2012-2013. When you look at the doctorate in psychology for 2016 graduates, there were 6,632 awarded. Since the 2012-2013 school year, the number of doctoral degrees in this field ranged from 6,326 to 6,583.

The above data seem to reflect that few graduates apply their psychology directly to its practice, in a clinical setting, teaching, or research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that the expected change in jobs from 2016 to 2026 will be 23,000 psychologists (doctorates). Therefore, an additional 2,300 people in this profession will be needed each year for ten years. The number of graduates with a doctorate exceeds the projected jobs.

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Judging from the NCES stats, the majority of psychology undergraduates use the degree in various occupations. There are entry-level jobs where you can use the skills learned through your psychology courses.

Bachelor’s Degree

Sales Representative

Direct sales involve dealing with a host of personalities and situations. Psychology is one of the standard degrees applicable to securing a job in sales. Your degree, accompanied by the appropriate interview techniques, can help your prospects. You emphasize how your major provided an understanding of a person’s motivations and behavior. Courses in communication and social psychology during your undergraduate studies would also be points of emphasis in an interview.

Advertising and Marketing

This occupation is another possibility of using your bachelor’s or master’s degree. Advertising entails the selection of persuasive wording that resonates with a large segment of the population. Of course, there is creativity involved. However, the brainstorming can start with the message that captures the attention of the prospective buyer. In this endeavor, knowledge of social psychology can benefit your career in this field. Typically, a Bachelor of Arts program has courses in social psychology that teaches you about interpersonal attraction, altruism, attitudes, and conflict resolution.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree opens up more possibilities to apply your knowledge to the profession of psychology, particularly in a clinical environment. By specializing in clinical psychology, you can practice counseling under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. You could also branch into one of the areas of counseling, for example, marital and family, mental health, addiction, or rehabilitation.

You may also be able to land a job in cognitive research at a university, corporation, organization, consulting firm, or government agency. Your career in this field may take you into research in memory, problem-solving, attention, motivation, and personality disorders. Industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology involves the study of employee selection, performance techniques, employee satisfaction assessment, training, and ergonomics. The vocation has become a growth area as companies strive to retain and maximize workers’ productivity.

At the master’s level, in addition to the ones above, the choices of concentrations amplify the job prospects. Some of the specialties with the suffix psychology are school, behavioral, general, child, engineering, health, media, military, and sport. Each one offers employment in their respective areas. For the master’s student, the horizon broadens due to the different paths the study of psychology takes you.


We reiterate that how advanced your degree is will dictate the multitude of job possibilities. For some, the bachelor’s degree is adequate for your career goals. Others may opt for a master’s or doctorate to create a relationship between their specialty and the application of their psychology degree.

Related Resources

What Is the Salary Potential for Someone With a Psychology Degree?

The Hidden Benefits of a Degree in Psychology

What Are the Different Kinds of Psychology Degrees?

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Psychologist?

How Long Does It Take to Become a School Psychologist?

What Classes Will I Take for a Degree in School Psychology?

What Is the Difference Between a School Counseling Degree and a School Psychology Degree?