Beyond the Bachelor of Arts Degree: Areas of Specialty Training

What are my options after receiving a B.A.?

The Psychology major: you can take your knowledge of psychology and apply it in any setting that involves people interacting. The analytical skills prepare you for broad-based work applications, while the feeling and interpersonal skills prepare you for social interaction. The ability to appreciate complexity is a valuable characteristic. To advance professionally in the field of psychology, you'll need more training. This career center website gives information on careers, salaries, the job market, etc. The American Psychological Association's student website gives students more information on careers, diversity, salary, and training in psychology. A new Psychology resource website:

APA has collected data in 2003 comparing degrees in Psychology (BA, MA, PhD) with work activities; work settings; and employment status. They offer information on positions and salaries with Master's degrees and with doctoral degrees. They also have interesting information on degrees by gender and race and ethnicity.

See this Board of Behavioral Sciences site for 2007 data on numbers of California licensed Master's level therapists, social workers, and educational psychologists. This pdf from the California Board of Psychology lists the number of licensed psychologists in each county in California in 2008.

How can I get more training in psychology?

Training usually means graduate work in the field of psychology. This can occur at either the Master’s (M.A., M.S., M.S.W.) or Doctoral (Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D.) level. It can occur in a variety of fields in psychology. Certificate programs also offer documented training in specialized areas of psychology; they are independent of educational degrees at the Master's and Doctoral levels.

What graduate programs offer training in psychology?

See the following sites for organized information on programs in psychology across the US. For grad programs in Psychology and all related fields, see this site or this site. For a listing of Psychology graduate programs and admission requirements, see this site. For a listing of clinical and counseling programs and related career information, see this site.

What fields give me the best chances of getting a good job?

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that clinical, counseling, school, health, organizational, and educational psychology offer the most job openings. The highest paid and greatest range of jobs in psychology are available to Ph.D. graduates, even though fewer new doctorates today are able to get university teaching jobs (as they have traditionally done in the past). See the APA's website for the data from the 2003 survey on occupations and salaries of Doctoral level and Master's level practitioners, sorted into many interesting categories. Also see this Board of Behavioral Sciences site for 2007 data on numbers of California licensed Master's level therapists, social workers, and educational psychologists.

What are some of the training specialties in Psychology?

There are many different areas; the following is a partial list and description. Much of this information is taken from the American Psychological Association Website, Remember that you can also go into other areas (Education, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Business, Women's Studies, Social Work, Theology) and use your Psychology skills and expertise.

The best way to find out more about training opportunities in the field in which you're interested is to conduct an internet search with the keywords of your interest area, in addition to "Master's" or "Ph.D."

Art Therapy
Art therapy uses the modalities of art expression to work in a therapeutic way with others. For more information see the section on Creative Arts Therapies.
Notre Dame de Namur University and Loyola Marymount University offer a Master's in Marital and Family Therapy with an Art Therapy emphasis. California Institute of Integral Studies offers a Master's in Counseling with an Expressive Arts Therapy emphasis. Naropa Institute offers an M.A. in Transpersonal Counseling with an Art Therapy emphasis.
Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people who need psychological help. They may act as therapists for people experiencing normal crises (such as a change of job or the breakup of a relationship) or for people suffering from chronic psychiatric disorders (such as schizophrenia or antisocial personality disorder). They may specialize in psychological testing and assessment, in educational testing, research, forensic work, or divorce and child custody work. Some are generalists who work with a wide variety of populations, while others work with specific groups, such as children and the elderly, or specific problem areas, such as domestic violence or mediation.
Clinical psychologists have a Doctoral degree (a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed. D.), are trained in universities or professional schools, and have undergone extensive predoctoral and postdoctoral internship trainings. They work in school settings, colleges and universities, counseling centers, community clinics, hospitals, prisons, and private practice. San Francisco State offers a Master's in Clinical Psychology. See the Clinical Ph.D. vs Psy.D. website for more information. See also Counseling Psychology.
Cognitive Psychology
Cognitive Psychology explores how the mind works, how we understand our experience, and it offers models for understanding our cognitive functioning. Cognitive psychology is directly involved in the study of perception, motivation, emotion, categorization, stereotyping, learning, information processing, decision-making, and all levels of human behavior. Most cognitive psychologists teach and do research in colleges and universities. Many clinical and counseling psychologists are cognitive in their orientation.
Community Psychology
Community Psychology studies how the individual acts and interacts with and within a community. It is usually oriented toward practical applications, interventions, program design, and research, and usually seeks to strengthen human services within a community. Most community psychologists teach and do research in colleges and universities. It is sometimes a component of doctoral work in clinical psychology.
Counseling Psychology
Counseling psychologists do many of the things that clinical psychologists do. However, their training is oriented more toward school, career, and life choices, and less toward psychological assessment. Counseling psychologists tend to focus more on persons with adjustment problems rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders, and to be more comfortable in advising and directing a client. They may be trained in Psychology Departments, Counseling Departments, or in Schools of Education. They work in academic settings, community mental health centers, religious settings, and in private practice.
Sonoma State, San Francisco State, and St. Mary's offer a Master's in Counseling. San Jose State offers a Master's in Education with emphases in school counseling or adult counseling, San Francisco State offers a Master's in Clinical Psychology, and Chico State offers a Master's in Psychology with the M.F.T. option. Sacramento State offers an M.S. in Counseling with different emphases (career; community; school; marriage, child, family). John F. Kennedy offers a Master's in Counseling Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy. See the Clinical Ph.D. vs Psy.D. website for more information. See also Clinical Psychology. For a complete listing of all gradaute programs in school counseling, see this site; or this site for career counseling; this site for marriage and family counseling; or this site for substance abuse counseling.
Creative Arts Therapy
Creative arts therapists unite therapeutic skills with a depth psychological background in art practices. Master’s programs build on training in disciplines such as studio art, dance and movement, music, drama, or poetry. The goal is to provide psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic services within the full range of educational and clinical settings. By focusing on imagination, creativity, and metaverbal processes, creative arts therapists provide a unique approach to the special needs of children, adults, families, and groups. Expressive arts therapists combine psychology with a multimodal use of the arts.
Notre Dame de Namur University and Loyola Marymount University offer a Master's in Marital and Family Therapy with an Art Therapy emphasis. California Institute of Integral Studies offers a Master's in Counseling with a choice of Expressive Arts Therapy or Drama Therapy emphasis. John F. Kennedy University offers a Master's in Transformative Arts.
Depth Psychology
Depth psychology is a study of Jungian and archetypal psychology. It is an interdisciplinary field that includes study in cross-cultural folklore and mythology, anthropology, archaeology, literature, art, and religion. Depth psychologists might be psychotherapists, teachers, ministers, or group leaders, or they may work in any field where they are able to apply a depth psychological perspective. Psychotherapists trained in Jungian psychological methods and techniques at specified training centers are called Jungian analysts.
Sonoma State offers a Master's degree in Depth Psychology, and Pacifica Graduate Institute offers Master's and doctoral programs in Depth Psychology and Mythological Studies.
Development Psychology
Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally over the lifespan. Most developmentalists focus on childhood or adolescence, though there is also a rapidly growing field of adult development. Developmental psychologists usually do research and teach in academic settings, but they may also act as consultants to day care centers, schools, or social service agencies.
San Jose State has a Master's program in Child and Adolescent Development, and San Francisco State has a Master's program in Developmental Psychology.
This is a new interdisciplinary field of psychology that explores the relationship between ecology and individuals. Ecopsychology might examine how an ecosystem influences the well-being of its inhabitants, or how a community behaves toward the natural world. It is a developing field. Ecopsychologists might be therapists, environmental activists, teachers, or community organizers, and they might style themselves as activists to bring positive change to a community’s ecological policies.
Naropa Institute offers a Master's in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy, as well as an online Master's in Transpersonal Psychology with an Ecopsychology emphasis. John F. Kennedy offers a certificate in Ecotherapy.
Educational Psychology
Educational psychologists study learning, and the materials and strategies for improving the learning process. For example, an educational psychologist might study reading and then develop a new technique for teaching reading. They are also trained in educational assessment within the school setting, and they work with teachers to devise effective learning programs for gifted, challenged, and disabled students. They're typically trained in Schools of Education and employed in schools, colleges, and universities.
San Jose State offers a Master's in Education with emphases in school counseling or adult counseling, as well as in Child Development, with a focus on elementary school teaching. UC Davis offers a Master's and a doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Psychological Studies. See also School Psychology. For a complete listing of all gradaute programs in school counseling, see this site, or this site for educational counseling; or this sitee for educational psychology.
Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychologists study how the individual and the group influence the environment, and how the environment influences the individual and the group. The environment could be as small as a dim classroom with artificial lighting, to something as large as the ecosystem in Borneo. Environmental psychologists might assess how a neighborhood project to plant trees influences the well-being of its community, as well as how the design of airport furniture facilitates the travel experience. Environmental psychologists generally work in universities, teaching and doing research, and also act as consultants to public policy agencies, public housing agencies, land use and natural resource management agencies, and architectural and interior design firms. CUNY New York has a doctoral program in Environmental Psychology.
Forensic Psychology
Forensic Psychologists study how psychology applies to the legal world. Forensic psychologists study criminal behavior, conflict resolution, divorce and custody disputes, and testify in courts as expert witnesses. Forensic psychologists are often clinical psychologists, though they need not be, and training may be done in Psychology Departments. Some forensic psychologists obtain a J.D. degree and may practice as an attorney.
Pacific Graduate School of Psychology offers a Master's in Forensic and Correctional Mental Health Psychology. UC Irvine offers a doctoral degree in Psychology and Law through the doctoral programs in Psychology and Social Behavior or the program in Criminology, Law and Society. Alliant University offers a doctoral program in Forensic psychology at the Psy.D. (clinical) level at a number of their campuses. See this site for a complete listing of graduate programs in forensic psychology.
Health Psychology
Health psychologists are interested in health and illness, and how biological, psychological, and social factors affect it. They may design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and stay physically fit. They're employed in hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, academic settings, and private practice. They may have trained in a research Doctoral program with a specialty in health psychology, or they may be clinical psychologists with a focus on health psychology. Behavioral medicine is a closely linked field of health psychology, in which practitioners (psychologists, doctors, nurses, therapists, health care workers) work with the area between illness, medicine, and optimum health.
UC Irvine offers a doctorate in Psychology with a specialization in Health Psychology. The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers a Master's in Health Psychology. John F. Kennedy University offers a Master's in Holistic Health Education.
Human Development
This is an interdisciplinary field which includes the discipline of developmental psychology, and that explores the contextual influences on human development. A human development expert might focus on family systems, social influences on childrearing, media influences on gender behavior, or personality influences on health and aging. Human Development graduate programs often offer good options for Psychology majors. Human development specialists usually teach and do research within a Human Development clinic or specialty area, teach in universities and colleges, consult to health care centers and facilities for the aging, and in schools for young children.
Humanistic Psychology
Humanistic psychologists study how to increase the potential of persons and groups. They are often interested in creativity, spirituality, intuition, body-mind integration, and maximum functioning. They might work with artistic expression, do body work or massage, engage in drama therapy, work with imagery in physical performance, design a learning curriculum, or enhance a meditation practice. They work as teachers, consultants, body workers, therapists, community activists, and change agents.
John F. Kennedy University offers a Master's in Integral Psychology. Sonoma State offers a Master's in Psychology with a Depth Psychology emphasis, and a Master's in Organization Development.
Organizational Development
Industrial / organizational psychologists are primarily concerned with the relationships between people and their work environments. They're interested in improving productivity and the quality of work life, and so they may conduct organizational assessments, provide trainings, develop employee change programs, and implement change strategies in organizations. They may be one-time consultants to an organization, be employed full-time within an organization as a change consultant, or be involved in personnel and management. Organizational psychologists work in business, government agencies, and academic settings, and as independent consultants, and design and implement programs as well as conduct research.
Sonoma State offers a Master's program in Organization Development. Alliant offers both Master's and doctoral degrees in organizational psychology at a number of their campuses. San Jose State and San Francisco State offer a Master's in Psychology with an emphasis in Organizational Psychology.
Personality Psychology
Personality Psychology is the study of the personality: what it is, how it's motivated, how it's measured, how it develops, how it changes depending on context and social circumstance. Personality areas are often merged with Social Psychology areas in Psychology departments around the country. Personality psychologists are usually employed in colleges, universities, and medical centers, where they teach and do research. They may also be employed by private and academic testing and assessment centers, where they design, conduct, and report on psychological assessment.
Physiology Psychology
Physiological psychologists study the physiology of behavior. They study both very basic processes (how brain cells function) and more apparent behaviors (how drug use affects behavior, how genetics influences psychiatric disorders). Most physiological psychologists are employed in academic or medical settings, where they teach and conduct research. In addition, neuro-psychologists explore the relationships between brain systems and behavior.
Professional Counseling
“Professional counseling is the application of mental health, psychological, or human development principles through cognitive, affective, behavioral, or systemic intervention strategies that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology. The primary purpose of counseling is to empower the client to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience personal growth, and make well-informed, rational decisions.” (U.S. Dept. of Human Services, Mental Health, United States, 2002)
“Licensed professional counselors (or in some states, “licensed clinical professional counselors” or “licensed mental health counselors”) provide mental health and substance abuse care to millions of Americans. Licensed professional counselors (LPC's) are master’s level mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders. LPCs make up a large percentage of the workforce employed in community health centers, agencies, and organizations, and are employed within and covered by managed care organizations and health plans. LPCs work with active duty military personnel and their families, as well as veterans.” (American Counseling Association, Who Are Licensed Professional Counselors)
LPC's: “The practice of professional counseling includes, but is not limited to, the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, including addictions; psycho educational techniques aimed at the prevention of such disorders; consultation to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations; and research into more effective therapeutic treatment modalities. Counselors’ training in the provision of counseling and therapy includes the etiology of mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and the provision of the established, research-based “talk therapies” of cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and psychodynamic therapy. Counselors’ education and training is oriented toward the adoption of a truly client-centered, approach to therapy.” (American Counseling Association, Who Are Professional Counselors)
Counseling Specialization: As in other professions, such as medicine and law, Professional Counselors meet requirements for the general practice of counseling and may develop an area of expertise to work with special populations or issues, requiring advanced knowledge that is documented by coursework, national certification or a state credential.
How Professional Counselors are Qualified: According to the American Counseling Association, more than 100,000 professional counselors are licensed or certified in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Professional counselor education and training standards for licensure are on par with those of the other two master’s level mental health providers – marriage and family therapists and clinical social workers. State licensure requirements for professional counselors typically include:
  • Possession of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling, or a closely related degree, from a national or regionally-accredited institution of higher education, including an internship and coursework on human behavior and development, effective counseling strategies, ethical practice, and other core knowledge areas;
  • Completion of a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised clinical experience, performed within two years, and periodic completion of continuing education credits/hours after obtaining licensure;
  • Passage of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
  • Adherence to a strict Code of Ethics and recognized standards of practice, as regulated by the state’s counselor licensure board.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEW LAW: Visit the CCCL website to learn about the requirements for grandfathering, reciprocity, and regular LPCC licensure. Your questions are likely answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Quantitative Psychology
Quantitative and measurement psychologists focus on the methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing psychological data. They often develop new ways of classifying and organizing data. They are usually mathematically oriented people who work in academic settings where they teach and conduct research.
Rehabilitation Psychology
Rehabilitation psychologists work with people who have disabilities to assist them in reaching their goals and maximizing their potential. This may involve working with stroke and accident victims, people with mental retardation, and those with developmental disabilities caused by such conditions as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism. They work in medical, clinical, and academic settings, usually doing applied, hands-on work, and they also conduct research. San Francisco State offers a Master's in Counseling with an emphasis program in Rehabilitation Counseling. For a listing of all Rehabilitation Counseling programs, see this site.
Research Psychology
This area includes a diverse group of psychologists who do research in psychology, such as learning, memory, cognition, perception, motivation, and language; and the areas of social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and so on. Most of these psychologists do research and work and teach in academic settings, or staff research psychologist positions at research universities.
Students interested in gaining experience in research often choose to obtain a Master's degree focusing on research from one of the CSU campuses, such as San Jose State, CSU Long Beach, San Francisco State and Chico State. This is excellent preparation for doctoral work in psychology.
School Psychology
School psychologists work to improve the development of children in educational settings. They assess children's psychological and learning abilities and then recommend programs to help children learn at their optimal level. They're typically trained in Schools of Education and work in public school systems. They often act as consultants to parents, teachers, and administrators to optimize the learning environments of students.
San Jose State and Sacramento State offer a Master's in Education with emphases in school counseling or adult counseling. San Francisco State offers a Master's in Psychology in School Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential. See also Educational Psychology.
Social Psychology
Social psychologists study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other persons. Some topics of interest to social psychologists are attitude formation and change, aggression, prejudice, group dynamics, and interpersonal attraction. Most social psychologists work in academic settings, but some work in federal agencies and businesses doing applied research. San Francisco State offers a Master's in Social Psychology.
Social Work
Degrees in social work or social welfare emphasize community mental health by working with community organizations, community mental health groups, groups, and individuals. Licensed clinical social workers might work in program evaluation, program planning, community outreach, mental health planning, facilitate support groups and psychotherapy groups, and conduct individual psychotherapy. A degree in Social Work or Social Welfare is a good alternative to the Master's in counseling. There are M.S.W. programs at San Francisco State, Sacramento State, UC Berkeley, and a new distance-learning M.S.W. program at SSU through CSU Long Beach.
Somatic Psychology
Somatic psychology is an integrated field of study that combines knowledge from anatomy, physiology, health psychology, and biofeedback, as well as approaches informed by eastern psychology, yoga, massage, meditation, and body-mind practices. The field integrates knowledge as well as skills in working with the body and body-mind. The California Institute of Integral Studies and John F. Kennedy University offer a Master's in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Somatic Psychology, and Naropa Institute offers a degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology. Santa Barbara Graduate Institute offers a Master's and a doctorate in Somatic Psychology, as well as a Master's and a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology.
Sports Psychology
Sports psychologists help athletes improve their performance, their motivation, and their thinking about their sport. They may help the athlete focus on goals, work with images, and regulate fear and anxiety. They also study how sport influences the development of the person. Sports Psychologists are trained within Psychology or Kinesiology departments. Most sports psychologists teach and conduct research within colleges or universities, while only a small percentage work with directly with athletes in applied settings. John F. Kennedy University offers a Master's in Sports Psychology.
Transpersonal Psychology
Transpersonal psychologists are especially concerned with the spiritual dimension of experience. They are interested in exploring how spirituality influences experience, and how it can be developed and integrated in day-to-day life. They often use spiritual methods and techniques from Eastern and Native American traditions, and they seek to explore the unique qualities of diverse spiritual practices. A transpersonal psychologist might be a therapist or counselor, facilitate groups, consult to individuals in crisis, and teach and conduct workshops. They are only beginning to work in social service agencies and traditional mental health centers.
The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology offers a Master's program in Transpersonal Psychology and Women's Spirituality. John F. Kennedy University's School of Holistic Studies offers a variety of Master's programs in different areas of transpersonal psychology, such as Consciousness and Transformative Studies and Transformative Arts. California Institute of Integral Studies offers programs in East-West Psychology and Philosophy and Religion with concentrations in Women's Spirituality and Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness.