Psychology, the field of study that focuses on thinking and behavior, blends aspects of social and natural sciences as well as clinical mental health practice. Colleges and universities offer many different types of psychology degrees at various levels of study and in different areas of specialization. Undergraduate psychology degrees are easier to get than graduate-level degrees, of course. Factors such as whether the program is more heavily based in science or liberal arts affect the level of difficulty. At the graduate level, the master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology is probably the easiest to attain. As doctorates go, the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree may be easier than the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
Psychology Studies at the Undergraduate Levels
Two-year degrees in psychology offered by community colleges and junior colleges are the easiest psychology programs you will find. Available on campus and online, associate’s degrees in psychology typically require around 60 credits of college coursework. Often, the coursework in an associate’s degree program is largely devoted to fulfilling general education requirements rather than studying the student’s major extensively. Your major coursework might include foundational courses, such as introduction to psychology, developmental psychology, statistics and research methods in psychology, psychology of personality and abnormal psychology.
In a bachelor’s degree program, you will gain more exposure to the field of psychology, but you still won’t be qualified to call yourself a psychologist once you complete your degree. A doctoral degree is required for most psychologist roles. What you can expect during your bachelor’s-level studies is to complete more extensive coursework into psychology, especially the different schools of psychological theories and approaches, according to U.S. News & World Report. Some bachelor’s degree programs provide students with their first exposure to different specializations in the field of psychology.
You don’t need to worry about an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program having programmatic accreditation, because the American Psychological Association only accredits doctoral programs, but you should still choose a regionally accredited school.
Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science Programs
Because psychology is a multidisciplinary field of study, some programs approach the subject from a more science-based perspective, while others do so from a liberal arts perspective. As a result, both Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs are popular in this discipline. One type of degree isn’t necessarily better in the eyes of employers or graduate school admissions offices. However, B.A. degrees in psychology may be considered easier than B.S. degrees if you are coming from the viewpoint that programs which emphasize science, math and technical knowledge are difficult.
If you are naturally good at science and math but struggle more with reading and writing, you actually might find the liberal arts focus more challenging in that it focuses on developing observational, communication and critical-thinking skills.
The Easiest Options in Graduate School
Graduate school is never really easy, but an advanced education is often part of the career path for psychology majors – and it is a requirement if you want to officially call yourself a psychologist, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. One of the easiest options in graduate school is a master’s degrees in industrial-organizational psychology. Although the coursework is still at the graduate level of study, you can often start out working as an industrial-organizational psychologist with only a master’s degree, not a doctorate. This program requires fewer courses and takes less time to complete. Although some research is still involved, industrial-organizational psychology is the field that applies psychological concepts and approaches to solving workplace problems, so much of the coursework focuses on this intersection of psychology and business.
A doctorate is necessary for most roles as a licensed psychologist, including roles in clinical, counseling and research psychology. Generally, students interested in the practice of psychology, rather than strictly in academic research, find that the Psy.D. is easier to earn in some regards than the Ph.D. Psy.D. programs emphasize clinical, practical and direct application of psychology, while Ph.D. programs have historically been research-focused. Psy.D. programs are sometimes, but not always, shorter in duration than Ph.D. programs. They still involve some degree of research and may require you to complete original research and write a doctoral dissertation on your experiment and findings, but the research obligations for Ph.D. students are often more extensive.
Psy.D. programs don’t simply eliminate the research components found in Ph.D. programs. Instead of research-focused curricula and field experiences, they expose students to more clinical experience through supervised fieldwork.