Selecting a suitable college or university to pursue higher education is always a daunting task. A nearly endless list of on-campus colleges and universities offer a variety of psychology degrees, ranging from associate to doctoral degrees.
In some cases, many individuals consider advancing their education by enrolling in online courses, but it is vital to be aware of a number of factors before starting.
As part of this excerpt, a few quick tips on how to choose colleges and universities with good psychology programs will be provided. Hopefully, this will support you in your endeavors.
1. Before You Begin, Do Your Research
Why It Matters: The variety of available specialties vary significantly not only in terms of coursework, but also in terms of subsequent training, licensures, employment requirements, hiring procedures, and work conditions. Always conduct extensive research on the long-term necessities before deciding on a course of action.
A Quick Rundown: Before focusing on a particular college or university with a psychology program, determine your needs and objectives. Many psychology specializations are available at most colleges and universities.
General, counseling, child, clinical, health, behavioral and cognitive, social, forensic, school, sport, political, industrial and organizational, and business psychology may be offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Different training models include researcher-scientist, scientist-practitioner, and practitioner-scholar.
2. Choosing The Type of Degree Program
Why It Matters: Psychologists investigate the human mind, brain, and behavior. Given the scale of this field of study, a practitioner or researcher could be employed in clinical, counseling, organizational, military, academic, or forensic settings. Ultimately, the type of program chosen will determine the training and education requirements for degree completion, licensure, and employment.
A Quick Rundown: Associate’s (two-year program), Bachelor’s (four-year program), Master’s (two-year program), and Doctorate (four-year program) degrees are all available for the scientific discipline of psychology at most colleges and universities within the U.S. and abroad. Strong consideration should be given to the recognition and accreditation of academic institutions by the United States Department of Education and/or the American Psychological Association by students who are interested in pursuing long-term graduate studies.
When researching the various areas of specialization, there are several factors that should always be taken into consideration. These factors include the total time that will be spent in higher education, research opportunities if they are deemed necessary, teaching endeavors, working conditions, work independence, leadership roles, and median income.
3. Online Learning—Benefits and Drawbacks
Why It Matters: Online programs have the major drawback that they are not suitable for everyone. Self-discipline is essential for success. Online coursework requires effective time management, active learning skills, and a strong commitment to your studies. Both on-campus and online programs teach the same curriculum. Ensure, though, that the programs have the proper accreditation in your region.
A Quick Rundown: For seekers of psychology programs, consideration of earning a degree online is becoming increasingly common. An increasing number of prestigious colleges and universities, from Tier 3 to the Ivy League, are offering online courses. In the ever-changing world in which we live, new opportunities always come with both its benefits and drawbacks.
Earning a degree online can have its advantages. Online courses can be convenient and flexible for many students. Online coursework may involve more individualized attention and still provide the chance to develop real skills from the comfort of your own home. In many instances, completed coursework and assignments may be accessible long after the course has been completed. Case-by-case, online courses may also offer economic advantages.
4. Consider Regional Accreditation Systems
Why It Matters: It is generally not recommended to enroll in a psychology program at a college or university that is not regionally accredited.
A Quick Rundown: It is important to evaluate the institution’s academic accreditation before enrolling in a psychology program. This emphasis on accreditation is especially crucial if one decides to initially enroll in or transfer to an online degree program at a college or university.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools are common regional accrediting bodies in the United States. Certain educational accreditors, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, may extend accreditation to foreign academic institutions. Educational accreditors by the United States Department of Education, for example, may recognize some institutions in Latin America and the Middle East.
5. Check The Entire Cost and Value
Why It Matters: For the vast majority of would-be first-year college students, selecting a valuable psychology program comes down to cents and dollars. While the total cost of tuition varies from case to case and depends on the student’s willingness or ability to pay, it is always prudent to explore funding opportunities through financial aid and scholarships.
A Quick Rundown: Notably, some of the most expensive psychology programs with comparable curricula tend to be offered at the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, often at the Ivy League level. According to viable personal opinions and expert analysis, there are a variety of world-class psychology programs outside of the Ivy League. In fact, some have argued that a feasible option for new psychology students would be to settle for a Tier 2 or Tier 3 institution to avoid the high costs and low admission rates of Ivy League schools.
Financial aid is available to those who qualify and are seeking assistance to pay for college or university. Scholarships are also a common option that many students take advantage of, but few are able to have their entire education paid for without needing to pay back. There are a multitude of online resources that facilitate scholarship programs. Be wary of potential scams, though.