What is the Difference Between an Associate’s and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

Overview

Should you pursue an associate’s degree (A.A.) or a bachelor’s degree in psychology (B.A.)? You may not realize this, but there are some differences between an associate’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. One of the differences involves the amount of “schooling” required for each degree type. Another one involves the types of careers, you can pursue with each psychology degree. If you are interested in learning more about degree types in the psychology field, you have come to the right place. This article will help you determine what level of degree (A.A. or B.A.), you need to utilize your psychology education post-graduation, and obtain the job of your dreams.

What is the Major Difference Between Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

One of the main differences between an associate’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in psychology is the amount of time required to complete the program. For instance, you can earn an associate’s degree in psychology in 1.5 to 2 years, while it will take you at least 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. An associate’s degree in the field is usually considered “supplementary,” while a bachelor’s degree in psychology is typically considered “entry-level.” In other words, an associate’s degree program prepares you for an undergraduate degree in psychology, while a bachelor’s degree either acts as a “terminal degree” or a step towards an advanced degree (master’s degree) and/or doctorate. Moreover, you normally do not have to complete an internship to earn an associate’s degree in psychology, but you may be required to complete one to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.

Also, you may be able to pursue higher paying jobs, if you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), you may be able to earn between $40,000 and $60,000 (or more), per year, depending on your location and experience, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In addition, you will mostly likely experience numerous job opportunities with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. On the other hand, you may not be able to find as many “psychology” jobs with an associate’s degree in the field. In other words, you may have to venture outside of the psychology field to find employment, even with an associate’s degree in psychology. With this degree; you will make between $25,000 and $40,000, per year, depending on your location and experience (bls.gov). The career outlook is most favorable for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, however, those with an associate’s degree in the field will be able to seek employment in a variety of non-psychology fields.

How Can I Earn an Associate’s Degree in Psychology, and What Type of Jobs I Can Pursue?

Well, in order to earn an associate’s degree in psychology, you will need to enroll in a technical school or community college. Some accredited colleges and universities offer associate programs, but most do not. The majority of associate’s degree psychology programs take between 18 and 24 months to complete. And, most, if not all, do not require you to complete an internship in a psychological field. It is important to note that you will not be able to provide services to clients and patients with an associate’s degree in psychology. However, you will be able to assist psychologists and psychotherapists as a “mental health technician.” You will also not be able to work as a teacher – most primary and secondary instructional jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

However, you will be able to use your associate’s degree in psychology at business organizations as a: customer service representative, retail representative, data entry specialist, research assistant, etc. Coursework may include: introduction to psychology, general psychology, introduction to sociology, introduction to research methods, counseling theories, methods, and practices, basic college math, natural sciences, English literature, English composition I, foreign language, social sciences, etc. The goal of an associate’s degree in psychology is to prepare you for undergraduate degree (B.A.) in psychology or a related field, or help you obtain a better paying job in your current career field. In addition, some businesses and organizations require workers to have an associate’s degree in a specific area.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and What Types of Jobs Can I Get?

Well, a bachelor’s degree in psychology consists of an undergraduate degree in a psychological field. It normally takes 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and in some cases, an internship at a social services agency or mental hospital is required for graduation. A license is usually not required at this level, but it is important that you pay close attention to job requirements, when applying for bachelor-level psychology jobs. Also, research your state’s licensure requirements to make sure your state does not require a license to “practice” as a counselor. Courses may include: introduction to psychology, lifespan development, counseling techniques, methods and practices, ethics, research methodologies, abnormal psychology, child psychology, marriage and family counseling, family counseling, group counseling, basic college math, English composition II, foreign language, science, electives, etc.

This degree is considered an entry-level degree. In other words, you may be able to obtain entry-level employment as a counselor or social worker. Specifically, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you may be able to seek employment as a: psychology assistant, mental health researcher, primary teacher (school-age), practitioner, human resource executive, customer service representative, “in-home counselor,” retail rep, data entry specialist, correctional officer, etc. It is important to note that you will only be able to refer to yourself as a “counselor” with a bachelor-level psychology degree. More specifically, you will not be allowed to “counsel” more complicated or severe cases of mental illness. Similar to an associate-level degree in psychology, your primary role will be that of an advocate, sounding board, and support system. A bachelor’s degree in psychology will ultimately prepare you for an advanced degree (master’s degree) or doctorate in the field. With a doctorate in psychology and a state license, you will be able to “practice” as a psychologist.

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