Do I Need Work Experience Before Pursuing a Master’s in Psychology?

If you hold a bachelor’s in psychology, you may want to pursue a master’s to open yourself up to a whole new world of opportunities in your profession. A master’s in psychology is a graduate-level degree that will require two to three more years of education beyond the undergraduate level, but a student may need to satisfy a long list of requirements before they can even apply for a master’s degree program. Some programs will have prior academic performance requirements, work experience requirements and admissions testing requirements. Here is your basic guide to understanding what requirements you will need to satisfy before pursuing a master’s in psychology.

Start Planning As Early As Possible

Not everyone knows whether they want to earn their master’s degree when they are pursuing an undergraduate degree. If this is the case, you may not take the time to take all of the prerequisite courses for a master’s degree in psychology. If, however, you do know that you will be pursuing a master’s, you can start planning to meet program requirements when you are still an undergraduate student. Virtually all graduate degree programs have prerequisite requirements on psychology courses and other related courses. Here are some requirements you should know about when you are selecting optional courses as an undergrad:

Sponsored Content
  • More than 85% of schools require a course in statistics.
  • More than 65% of schools require a course in experimental methods.
  • Courses in abnormal and developmental psychology often are required.


Work Experience Requirements for Master’s Programs

Most clinical, counseling and school psychology master’s degree programs have a work experience requirement, according to the American Psychological Association. In order to earn a master’s degree from a school accredited with the association, a school will require that you have practical, on-the-job experience. You can gain this experience through field placements or through internships or volunteer work. The amount of practical experience can vary between one and three years, depending on the program you choose.

What Can a Master’s in Psychology Lead to?

If you have all of the prerequisites required and you have experience to put on your application, it may be time to start your admissions process. Before you start, you might want to know what you can do with a master’s in psychology. What you should know is that you will have more opportunities, but options are still limited in the field when you do not have a doctorate. With a master’s, you may be able to enter fields in mental health and forensic technology, but a doctorate is required to have your own practice. You must consider your goals before choosing a master’s program over a doctorate program.

Sponsored Content

Students have the option to enter a doctoral program immediately after graduating, but to enter a master’s program they will need practical experience. Keep this in mind when you choose which route you want to take and plan as early as possible to make wise choices. With the proper planning, you can identify which program is going to help you achieve your short-term and long-term career goals.