After receiving my Psychology degree, what are my Higher Education career options with a Doctoral Degree in Psychology?
After you receive your Psychology degree, you may decide to move forward and get a Doctoral (typically PhD) degree so that you can get a job in Higher Education. If you decide to go this route, there are several options for you. You can use your Doctoral degree to get a Higher Education job in teaching only, research only, or both teaching and research. It really is up to you what path you want to pursue. For example, some PhDs do not want to deal with the pressure of publishing and would prefer to only teach at a small college or even a community college. Keep in mind that whatever you path you choose may have implications for where you can land a job, how much money you will make, and what job security you will have.
Remember that to earn a Doctoral degree you must have first earned a Master's degree, either from another school or the same school you earn your doctorate. In addition, the time it takes to earn a Doctoral Degree typically involves 4-6 years of graduate school. At many schools you do NOT pay tuition--you receive a tuition waiver--and you will receive a stipend, a form of salary for serving as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA). Read about comparisons between Masters and PhD degrees in psychology here.
payscale.com lists the average yearly income for an Assistant Professor in Psychology at $57,500.
What are my Higher Education Career options with a Master's Degree in Psychology?
You can use your Psychology degree to move forward to graduate school and earn a Master's degree in Psychology. At that point, you can consider various types of jobs in higher education. You can teach at a college or university with a Master's degree, but it is unlikely that you can secure a full-time position without continuing in graduate school to earn a PhD. Still, you may be able to teach some courses on what is called an "adjunct" or part-time basis. Another option with a Master's deree is to pursue an administrative position at a college or university. This type of position might be in one of many departments on a campus--enrollment management, admissions, advising, student services, etc. The key is that a Master's degree tin Psychology ends to offer greater job opportunities and greater salary than a Bachelor’s degree.
Earning a Master's degree will require you to be accepted in a graduate program. You will need to think about what type of Master's degree in Psychology you want to pursue. For a higher education degree, it might be best to get a Master's degree in General Psychology. This type of degree typically requires 2 years of graduate school to complete a Master's thesis (research project) and typically you must pay tuition at your school. You should check with the schools you are interested in to see if they offer any type of financial assistance.
A career in Higher Education as only a Researcher with a Doctoral degree in Psychology
You've earned your Psychology degree, gone to graduate school and received your Doctorate, and now you want a job in Higher Education. Is this possible? The answer is a definite "Yes". You will need to apply for jobs at a college/university where research is conducted. If you secure a faculty position you will likely in a department on the Main Campus or possibly on another campus, such as a Medical Center. Often, faculty members who are only researchers have positions based on what is called "soft money" which means you must apply for and receive grant money awarded from the federal government or a private foundation. Applying for grants can be very time consuming and lead to a lot of pressure, but higher education institutions are unlikely to pay you a regular salary if you are not engaged in teaching. Keep in mind that faculty who conduct research do so in various areas of Psychology. For a full listing of all areas go to the following American Psychological Association Site:
After you Psychology degree and Doctoral Degree, you can get a job in Higher Education in Teaching only
Once you earn your Psychology degree and then move on to receive a Doctoral degree, you may decide that teaching alone is best for you. You can get a job in higher education teaching acher only, these jobs typically involve only teaching undergraduates. Therefore, you would be hired at a Community College, Liberal Arts College (where relatively less research is conducted and where only Bachelor degrees are offered), or at a larger Research institution where you are hired in a "Teaching-only" track (e.g., "Special Titles" faculty or "Instructor"). Keep in mind that your job description will typically include other teaching-related activities such as advising and/or committee work (e.g., Curriculum Committee).
Using your Psychology to become a college Professor involved in teaching and research
For many students, earning a Psychology degree and then receiving a Doctorate is the path to being a Professor on a college campus. This job involves both teaching and research at a medium-sized or large university that awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In this setting, Professors spend a large portion of their time conducting research or experiments, and often apply for grants from the government or private foundations in order to fund their research. A college Professor may teach both undergraduates and graduate students. The former may be taught in relatively large classes.
Keep in mind that faculty who conduct research do so in various areas of Psychology. For a full listing of all areas go to the following American Psychological Association Site: