Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy How Long Does It Really Take to Earn a Psychology Degree in 2024?

How Long Does It Really Take to Earn a Psychology Degree in 2024?

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For those of you who are fascinated by human mind, behaviour, and eager to understand why we act the way we do, a degree in psychology can be quite rewarding. The discipline of psychology prepares students to find relationships between human behaviour and environment and helps establish a causal relationship between nature and nurture.

While this may sound exciting, and it is, a psychology degree is a big commitment, both in terms of effort and time. To ensure that you’re ready to invest in a challenging degree like this, it’s essential to understand the timelines as well as the opportunities associated with this degree.

Earning a psychology degree in 2024: a timeline

While a full time bachelor’s degree in psychology will require at least four to five years, the actual amount of time that it takes to earn a psychology degree in 2024 can be different. Based on your choice of degree, whether you’re enrolling in a full-time or part-time programme, as well as the subject you want to specialise in, the length of earning a psychology degree can vary quite a bit.

To give you an idea of what you can expect, here’s a breakdown of some of the most sought-after types of psychology degrees and the duration associated with them:

Bachelor’s degree

A student deciding to pursue their bachelor’s in psychology can either choose a Bachelor of Science in Psychology – a BS degree) or a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, (BA degree). While both degrees require between four and five years to complete with full-time commitment, a B.S. degree requires more focus on the scientific processes behind psychology, involving more statistical and mathematical courses.

However, if you’re looking to earn your degree sooner, you can opt for a part-time course, choose to accelerate the programme through extra summer sessions, or choose an online degree like that of Research.com online psychology degree. By enrolling in an accelerated course, you can finish the four year degree in just one to two years, as long as you’re willing to put in some extra hours.

Master’s degree

While a bachelor’s degree is essential to building a career in psychology, it doesn’t automatically make you a psychologist. After completing your bachelor’s degree, you will be required to get a master’s degree to further advance your career in the future. In fact, there are multiple reasons to get a master’s degree in psychology. Not only does it help you pick a specialisation from the many options available, but also opens up additional career choices.

A full-time master’s degree usually takes around two years to complete, with a specialisation of your choice, usually between clinical psychology, counselling psychology, and organisational psychology. However, you can choose to complete your coursework earlier or even online through an accelerated master’s programme, which will help you earn your psychology degree in 12–18 months, irrespective of whether you are studying for a Master of Science in Psychology (MS Psychology) or Master of Arts in Psychology (MA Psychology).

Doctoral degree

After completing your master’s degree, you may be interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology to refine your scientific and research skills in the discipline. That’s where a Doctoral degree comes in. Whether you choose to get a PhD or a PsyD, it will take at least five to seven years to complete your degree. A PhD is a great way to learn deeply about the field of psychology and specialise in the course of your choice, with the help of research, training and coursework. While a PhD focuses on theory, a PsyD is a great way to learn through hands-on training. The difference between the two is explained in detail by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most people choose a part time degree to get their doctoral degree because it takes a lot to finish a PhD, and by that time in their lives, they already have a career. A PhD is a means to enhance your knowledge in the discipline and prepare you for a career in the field of research and academia. If you don’t want to spend too long getting your PhD, try enrolling in an accelerated doctoral programme to finish your doctoral degree in less than four years.

Specialised niches in the discipline of psychology in 2024

The discipline of psychology is vast and spread across niches. Once you’ve understood the expected timelines associated with each type of degree, it’s a good idea to start refining your interest and identifying in which direction you want to move forward.

In 2024, there will be numerous paths in psychology that you can specialise in, ranging from criminal psychology, to social, and forensic psychology. However,  the three most in-demand fields that are also taught in most educational institutions are as follows:

Clinical psychology

Clinical psychology will be a booming field in 2024. As a clinical psychologist, you’ll be responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating individuals with mental health disorders with the help of skills such as intervention, interviewing, behavioural assessment, and interpretation of psychological test measures.

To open up your own practice as a licenced psychologist, you need a doctoral degree in the field of clinical psychology.

Counselling psychology

Counselling psychology is one of the most sought after fields in 2024, especially for those looking to make a career in the field of school or college counselling. More than diagnosing and treating psychological disorders, a counselling psychologist helps an individual adjust to social and emotional challenges by offering guidance and support.

Just like a clinical psychologist, a counselling psychologist also needs a PhD or at the very least a master’s degree along with internship experience to get an entry level position in a private or government organisation.

Organisational psychology

As businesses and entrepreneurs grow, the need for organisational psychologists has increased manifold. In 2024, many big and small organisations will be hiring organisational psychologists to address issues and improve organisational functioning in terms of recruitment, training, workplace motivation, and promoting employee well-being to improve workplace productivity and dynamics.

While a doctoral degree is desirable, many organisational psychologists begin working after earning their master’s degree. On-the-job training helps them learn the intricacies of the field while they’re working.

Final thoughts

A degree in psychology opens opportunities to multiple career options, from academia to business. While a bachelor’s degree in psychology lasts about four years on average, a master’s degree two years, and a doctoral degree between 5–7 years, you can choose to accelerate your graduation by enrolling in specific accelerated courses and programmes. 

The more you enhance your education with further studies, the better you’ll be able to grasp the concepts associated with the discipline and be able to build a career in a specialised field of your choice, whether it’s clinical, counselling, organisational, criminal, social, research or any other field of psychology.

Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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