Master’s Degree in Child Psychology
A Master’s in Child Psychology is a common degree path for those wanting to blend helping others with a passion for working with children. Psychology is a growing field today. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of three percent between 2019 and 2029 for psychologists overall. Because of the growing demand for psychologists in schools and mental health centers, child psychologists will continue to be in demand.
There has also been a recent awareness of the connection between learning and mental health, which puts an even greater demand for child psychologists. Earning a master’s degree in child psychology is the first step towards becoming part of this growing field.
What is a Master’s in Child Psychology?
A Master’s in Child Psychology is a graduate degree chosen by individuals interested in helping and working with children. The degree program is typically in psychology, and the child psychology portion is an area of concentration. An example might be a master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on child psychology or a master’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development Psychology.
The master’s degree programs may be a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. Depending on the college, the master’s degree in child psychology may be offered on campus, online, or a combination of both. The program can be completed in one to three years depending on the learning platform the student chooses. This program may require completion of anywhere from 30 to 60 credits. In addition to coursework, the student must also complete a practicum or internship
MA vs MS in Child Psychology
It might appear that an MA in Child Psychology and an MS in Child Psychology are the same thing. After all, they are both master’s degree programs. However, there are some huge differences between the two master’s degree programs. The MA (Master of Arts) degree focuses more on the liberal arts and humanities. The MS (Master in Science) degree, which is more of a or scientific degree, focuses more on behavior, brain functions, and the actual science of psychology.
In the case of the MA degree, a graduate will be qualified for work as a school counselor or a child therapist. The MS degree is designed to prepare students to earn a doctoral degree, either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). An individual who wants to earn a doctoral degree and work as a licensed child psychologist will typically choose the MS degree in child psychology.
Is a Master’s in Child Psychology a Terminal Degree?
The answer to this question depends on if the degree is an MA in child psychology or an MS in child psychology. The MA is considered a terminal degree because once a student has completed this degree, he or she has reached the highest level of education and is ready to join the workforce.
The MS degree, on the other hand, is more for students who wish to go on to earn a doctoral degree in child psychology. In order to become a licensed child psychologist, the candidate must have a doctorate. Although both the MS and MA degrees can lead to a doctoral degree, students interested in pursuing the doctoral degree generally choose the MS degree.
How to Get in a Master’s in Child Psychology Program
The requirements for entry into masters in child psychology programs may vary from program to program and even from school to school, but most colleges require applicants have a GPA of at least 3.0. Students whose undergraduate performance was less than perfect may also be required to submit the following.
- Resume of professional experience
- Personal and professional recommendations
- A personal statement
- Proof of a bachelor’s degree in psychology
Although graduate colleges may require undergraduate study to be in psychology, many schools will admit a student with a bachelor’s degree in another field. The program may also admit the student if he or she completes prerequisite courses like research methods, statistics, and psychological theory. Every school or program is different in its requirements.
One example is the GRE (graduate record examination) test. Some accredited programs may require the applicants to take the GRE while others may not require it or may require an alternate test. If an applicant has a lot of professional experience, he or she may not have to take the test. Online programs generally do not require the GRE.
Many colleges allow the credits a student earns in the master’s degree program to be transferred to a doctoral degree program. Some colleges offer a master’s/doctorate joint degree program, which allows students to earn their master’s degree while en route to earning the doctoral degree. Many students prefer joint programs because they require the student to complete a dissertation as opposed to a thesis.
Master’s in Child Psychology Curriculum
Students in a child psychology program complete a blended curriculum of courses, research, and practical education. The curriculum teaches students about behavioral developments, learning patterns, and environmental factors that affect children from the time their infants and right through adolescence. Child psychology master’s degree program may offer different areas of specialization.
The three main areas of specializations for child psychology students include abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and adolescent psychology. A big part of the master’s degree program includes practicums and clinical internships, which provide the student with hands-on training in a real environment.
In order to obtain professional certifications and state licensure, the student must complete fieldwork and post-internship experiences. For some psychology positions, the candidate must complete one to two years of supervised clinical education to be eligible to take the state licensure exam. Students in a child psychology master’s degree program may complete the following courses.
- Autism spectrum
- Research methods in psychology
- Theories of personality
- Child and developmental psychology
- Cognitive neuropsychology
- Social psychology
- Ethical practice in psychology
- Learning disabilities
- Mental disorders in children
Can You Do a Master’s in Child Psychology Online?
Students pursuing a master’s degree in child psychology have many more options available to them today than in the past when the only option was attending a brick-and-mortar college every day. Students today can choose to complete their studies in a traditional classroom, online, or in a hybrid setting. The online study, also known as distance learning, is when the student completes the classes over the internet.
Hybrid programs offer some of the classes online and others in the classroom. More and more students are choosing online programs because they can log into the virtual classroom on their time while continuing to work at their regular job. This is an especially attractive option for the student who is working in a healthcare, clinical, or psychology environment.
The student is able to obtain actual hands-on experience that can be very beneficial while completing the child psychology degree. It’s important to understand that even if a program is advertised as 100 percent online, it may not be 100 percent online. Such is the case with child psychology master’s degree programs.
The reason for this is the clinical or internship requirements. While the student may complete the courses online, the internships and supervised clinical practicums must be completed in an actual real-life setting. It is generally up to the student to find these locations and arrange to complete the internships. Online programs usually have many of the same courses required as an on-campus program.
Careers with a Master’s in Child Psychology
Although graduates of a master’s degree in child psychology may find several career options, they generally cannot become child psychologists because this field requires a doctoral degree. The master’s degree does act as a stepping stool towards the doctoral degree. The master’s degree in child psychology program prepares students for advanced studies.
However, an individual with a master’s degree in child psychology may still find many careers available to them. Graduates of the master’s degree program may find work as advisors, counselors, and researchers for academic, social, and community programs. There are actually many jobs in the area of child psychology that are available to graduates of either the MS or MS in child psychology.
Below are a few careers possible with a master’s degree in child psychology as well as potential wages and job growth as reported by the BLS as on 2019.
- Family and child therapist – These professionals are expected to see job growth of 22 percent between 2019 and 2029. The average annual wage nationwide for these therapists is $54,590.
- School psychologist – School psychologists are expected to see job growth of four percent between 2019 and 2029. The average annual wage nationwide for these psychologists is $87,450.
- Child life specialist – School psychologists are expected to see job growth of seven percent between 2019 and 2029. The average annual wage nationwide for these specialists is $60380.
- Learning and development specialist – Learning and development specialists are expected to see job growth of nine percent between 2019 and 2029. The average annual wage nationwide for these specialists is $65,640.
With a Master’s in Child Psychology, you can work in many fields that require licensure, opening yourself up for a higher potential salary and greater career opportunities.