What is a Master of Arts in Psychology, and is it Right for Me?

What is a Master’s Degree in Psychology: Is it Right for me?

A master’s degree in psychology is a graduate-level degree program that can often require two or three years of study, and can be taken after you complete your undergraduate degree. A masters dives further into psychological research and theory and equips you with the skills needed for real-world application.

The study of the human mind has become big business around the globe, with organizations large and small putting psychology graduates to work analyzing behaviors, habits, and office dynamics. As these factors can often make or break a company’s culture, it’s essential that graduates vying for these (and other) psychology-related roles are entering the workforce with the skills and schooling needed to do the job. 

For those who aspire to make human behavior the focus of their careers, Ashford University’s Master of Arts in Psychology is the professional credential that signifies their expertise. Psychology graduate students are forever curious, fascinated by research and analysis, and eager to apply what they’ve learned in school to the working world.

What Is the Master of Arts in Psychology?

In recent years, there has been an evolution in the way businesses employ psychology graduates. This has led to an evolution in higher education and the way psychology programs are structured. 
 
“The master’s program builds upon foundational theories and concepts of general psychology by reinforcing what [students] have previously learned, while also introducing a practical component,” explains Dr. Jeral Kirwan, the program chair of Ashford University’s online Master of Arts in Psychology. “We take those concepts and apply them to real-world scenarios and skills.”

Those real-world scenarios involve many of today’s most competitive business fields – healthcare, education, human resources, and law enforcement, among others. Additionally, you will gain real-world perspective from faculty members who have experience putting psychological principles into practice.  

“We have faculty that work in medicine, healthcare, clinical settings, Industrial/Organizational Psychology fields, forensic settings, non-profit organizations, and education,” Dr. Kirwan says.

What Will I Learn in the Master of Arts in Psychology Program?

Ashford’s Master of Arts in Psychology is comprised of 12 courses – 36 credits – that will immerse you in the concepts of, “human behavior, personality, and motivation -- from the first day of your involvement in the program,” according to Dr. Kirwan.

The program is conceived around the Generalist Model, a “conceptual framework that emphasizes an understanding of the processes that underlie human experience and behavior, as well as core knowledge, theories, and research methods in the field of psychology.”

Some of the key psychology courses include: 

The career-focused curriculum incorporates the use of e-portfolios, which represent dynamic, developmental spaces for students to showcase their skills and achievements. As a student, you will also be invited to participate in Ashford’s online Psychology Learning Community, which offers you the chance to interact with faculty and participate in psychology-related programming and activities that focus on your success.  

“Students tell me that they love the interactions with faculty and other students,” Dr. Kirwan says. “Our program evolves and improves with each class, and we incorporate student feedback in our continuous program development.  

“I think the students like that their input affects change.”

What Can I Do With a Psychology Degree?

Psychology as a profession continues to gain popularity as more employers demand to see psychological principles applied in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates much faster than average growth of psychologist positions in the coming years, although you may prefer to take the industrial-organizational psychologist route over a traditional research role. 

“Psychology has moved from mainly theoretical speculations of human behavior to more objective and applied approaches to understanding why people do what they do,” explains Dr. Kirwan.

Once the “why” is established, he adds, a psychology graduate can use that knowledge to improve workplace practices. Master’s degree holders are often called upon to lend their expertise in the fields of:

  • Social Services
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Organizations
  • Government – Local, State, or Federal
  • Human Resources
  • Law Enforcement
  • Market Research
  • Healthcare
  • Nonprofit sector
  • Education

Because of the wide-ranging opportunities available, Ashford’s MA in Psychology helps prepare you with transferable skills, Dr. Kirwan explains, such as report writing, interviewing, and professional communication. 

At the same time, a master’s degree serves as the ideal stepping stone toward the pinnacle of education, Ashford University’s Doctor of Psychology and all of the opportunities that come with a doctoral degree.

A psychology education allows you to apply multiple psychological principles – responsible leadership, lifelong learning, and cultural competence, among others – into a variety of settings. If you’re ready to explore the human mind and your own academic potential, contact an Ashford University advisor about your Master of Arts in Psychology.

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Written by Ashford University staff

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This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.