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Grad Program: Experimental Psychology

 
Basic Information

Chances are you’ve been part of a psychological experiment, either as a researcher or a subject: Ever played peek-a-boo? Turned a light on and off quickly in a darkened room? Experimental psychology refers to the area of study focused on psychological research, as distinct from counseling or clinical psychology.

Programs prepare students for careers in research and teaching. They provide theoretical background and are heavy in statistics, analysis, and other courses that assist students in developing research skills. Some programs have stringent core curricula; others are almost entirely focused on student research, considering the program an extended period of mentorship by faculty. All programs provide students with the opportunity to pursue their own research interests, and students choose an area of focus, such as cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, personality, social, or animal psychology. Finding the right program often means finding faculty with interests similar to yours--and the facilities to match.

Degree Information

Experimental psychology programs may or may not fall under the heading “Experimental Psychology.” Often, training to conduct research is built into a general Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology degree, though there are also many programs that do offer M.A. or M.S. (or Ph.D.) degrees specifically in Experimental Psychology. The master’s degree typically prepares students to teach at the junior college level, work in various public and private research settings, and to move on to advanced study. Programs are usually two to three years long--and may take longer for those who enter with a bachelor’s degree in a major other than psychology. In many cases, master’s degrees are not offered as terminal degrees, but only for those intending to go on to earn a Ph.D.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • How accessible are the faculty and what type of research are they doing?
  • How good are the facilities?
  • What type of financial support is offered?
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