Pacific University undergraduates who are interested in a career in psychology may choose to complete a pre-professional psychology track along with their bachelor’s degree in preparation for graduate school. The Pacific University School of Professional Psychology offers master’s degrees in applied psychological science, as well as a PsyD and PhD in clinical psychology. Pacific also offers several other pre-professional tracks.
Psychology seeks to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings and behavior. Depending on the topic of study, psychologists use techniques such as observation, assessment and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence a person’s actions. Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or cause-and-effect relationships between events, and use this information when testing theories in their research or treating patients. Psychologists typically do the following: conduct scientific studies to study behavior and brain function; collect information through observations, interviews, surveys, tests and other methods; find patterns that will help them understand and predict behavior; use their knowledge to increase understanding among individuals and groups; develop programs that improve schools and workplaces by addressing psychological issues; work with individuals, couples and families to help them make desired changes to behaviors; identify and diagnose mental, behavioral or emotional disorders; and develop and carry out treatment plans, and/or collaborate with physicians or social workers to help treat patients.
Psychologists held about 174,000 jobs in 2010. About 34 percent of psychologists were self-employed, 29 percent worked in educational services, and 20 percent worked in healthcare settings. Some psychologists work alone, which may include independent research or individually counseling patients. Others work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with physicians, social workers and others to treat illness and promote overall wellness.
Many clinical and counseling psychologists in private practice have their own offices and can set their own schedules. Other typical workplaces include clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and community and mental health centers.
Most research psychologists work in colleges and universities, government agencies, or private research organizations.
Most school psychologists work in public schools, ranging in level from nursery school through college. They also work in private schools, universities, hospitals and clinics, community treatment centers, and independent practice.
Employment of psychologists is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, varying by specialty. Clinical, counseling and school psychologist jobs are expected to grow fast, as is demand for psychologists in the healthcare and education fields. The median annual wage of psychologists in 2012 was $69,280.
Program and Requirements
Most clinical, counseling and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Psychologists may complete a PhD in psychology or a doctor of psychology (PsyD) degree. A PhD in psychology is a research degree that culminates in a comprehensive exam and dissertation based on original research. The PsyD is a clinical degree and is often based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation.
School psychologists need a master’s specialist or doctoral degree specific to school psychology, which includes training in both education and psychology.
Graduates with a master’s degree in psychology can work as industrial-organizational psychologists or may serve as psychological assistants under a doctoral psychologist in a clinical, counseling or research setting.
Most master’s degree programs require coursework in introductory psychology, experimental psychology and statistics. Some doctoral degree programs require a master’s degree in psychology, while others will accept applicants with a bacehlor’s degree with a major in psychology.
In addition to a doctorate in psychology, most clinical and counseling psychologists need an internship, as well as one- to two-years of professional experience and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology to be licensed in their state.
The Pacific University School of Professional Psychology seeks students with academic aptitude and personal qualities that will enable them to develop personally and professionally into effective psychologists and therapists.
The master’s degree in applied psychological science, which prepares students for work as non-licensed professionals in applied practical and research settings, requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA, prerequisite coursework in psychology, three letters of recommendation and research experience.
The PhD in clinical psychology, which prepares students with a particular emphasis on the research and academic aspects of psychology, requires a bachelor’s degree with prerequisite coursework, completion of the GRE, three references and other application materials.
The PsyD in clinical psychology, which prepares students for practice, teaching and research, requires a bachelor’s degree with significant coursework in psychology (if not a psychology major), as well as completion of the GRE and professional experience in the mental health field. An interview also is required.