General psychology provides valuable insight into the workings of the human mind, and psychologists play integral roles in a wide range of professional fields. Law enforcement agencies work with criminal psychologists to investigate crime scenes and narrow down suspects. School districts rely on trained psychologists to evaluate the mental health of students and assist them with specific needs. And organizations in both the public and private sectors employ psychologists to assist members of the workforce with day-to-day needs and help them overcome obstacles to achieve personal goals.
While specialized psychologists explore the intricacies of the human mind using established approaches, general psychology programs offer a broad overview of behavior, interaction, and development as it pertains to different groups of men, women, and children. Associate degree programs in psychology introduce the student to the theory and field practice of psychology to usually work alongside clinical and forensic psychologists.
Why an Associate Degree?
The associate degree in psychology online prepares students for entry level positions (such as psychiatric technician or rehabilitation assistant) commonly found in the fields of clinical psychology, forensics, and counseling. The degree is often viewed as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree with additional career opportunities or those that expand upon the entry level opportunities from the psychology associate degree program.
The psychology associate degree program teaches students fundamentals of psychology, human development, and sexuality. Graduates who earn an associate degree will acquire skills in data collection, statistical analysis, research, and the application of psychology theories. The short duration of study, ranging from one to two years, and the application of these degree skills assists the student in gaining an immediate, entry level position in the field of psychology. Graduates find work in a variety workplaces including government, corporate, and private settings.
Inside a Psychology Associate Degree Program
Students who enroll in a psychology associate program will take general study courses, core courses, and student elective courses. General programs in psychology prepare students for work in the field of psychology with classes in written communication, how to think critically and creatively, technical math, biology, physics, chemistry and introduction to psychology. Core courses in a psychology associate degree program focus on key stages of development, such as childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and later years. Elective programs in psychology familiarize the student with personality theory, abnormal psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, and life cycles development. On average, the associate degree in psychology requires one or two years to complete.
What's Next for Psychology Associate Degree Holders?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree or higher is viewed as a requirement for employment in the field of psychology. The associate degree programs in psychology prepare students for meaningful entry-level positions, such as an assistant to a mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist, youth counselor, or drug and alcohol counseling aide. Job growth in the field of family therapy and mental health counseling is expected to reach 19% from 2014 to 2024, and assistants/aides in this field can also expect more opportunities in the coming years.
After completing an associate in psychology online or in the classroom, graduates often go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology to pursue clinical work as a mental health counselor. The median pay of mental health counselors is $42,250, according to BLS. Other graduates find it practical and worthwhile to work as a mental health aide, or assistant counselor, although with typically a lower pay based on administrative duties and locale dependent pay.