Returning to school for any type of advanced degree is a major decision. Before you invest several years of study and thousands of dollars into a program, you want to be sure you are making the right choice and that the program of study you choose will help you reach your goals. If you are wrestling with whether to earn your online masters degree in psychology, here are ten good reasons to go for it.
Not only are psychology careers growing at a faster rate than most others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a wide range of specialty options to choose from. While providing therapy to individuals and families in a practice-based setting is always an option, there is also a need for psychologists in forensics, career services and sports. Psychologists have also found jobs in education, business and engineering, making an advanced degree a versatile choice.
Development of Critical-Thinking Skills
By its nature, psychology requires critical-thinking skills. The ability to assess and interpret situations and data, and draw logical conclusions from that information is vital to being an educated and productive member of society, not to mention an in-demand skill among employers. Regardless of what career path you take, the critical-thinking skills you gain while studying psychology will be beneficial.
Better Personal Mental Health
While any psychologist will tell you that they cannot diagnose or treat their emotional and mental issues, the knowledge gained by studying principles of psychology and how the human mind works allows you to have a better sense of your mental health, and recognize when it’s time to make changes or seek help. This better mental state allows you to be more productive and happier in life.
Much like understanding psychology improves your mental health, it can improve your relationships as well. Psychology students have a better understanding of human relationships and dynamics, and know how to build and maintain strong, healthy relationships both at home and at work.
The Chance to Partake in Groundbreaking Research
As a master’s level student of psychology (and at the higher levels), you’ll have the chance to participate in research projects that may not be available to undergraduate students. Many of these projects have major implications for psychology, or for how we assess, treat and manage common problems in today’s world.
The Ability to Make a Positive Difference in the Lives of Others
Many students enter the field of psychology because they want to help others. Many feel a great deal of satisfaction when they help someone through a challenging time, develop new coping skills or make positive changes in their lives.
The Effective Management of Stress and Change
While no one can manage the stresses of life perfectly all of the time, students of psychology generally have better coping skills than others. As part of their education and training, they learn skills for managing stressors, such as relationship problems, death, addiction or divorce. Again, they may not be able to solve their issues on their own, but they know how to effectively manage their emotions and when to seek help.
Emotional Management Skills
In a similar vein, psychology students generally have the ability to manage their emotions. Through their knowledge of how the human mind works, they can more easily acknowledge harmful emotions, and engage in behavior modification and reinforcement techniques to stay on an even keel. No one is perfect, but psychology majors may have skills that others do not.
Skills Using Data
Psychology education provides students with skills that they can use in almost any setting, especially when it comes to cultivating, interpreting and reporting data. Advanced study requires courses in research methods and statistics, where you’ll be expected to interpret data and present it coherently, logically and accurately. Even if you do not practice psychology, these skills are an asset in any career.
Finally, the last reason is probably the most important: You cannot practice as a therapist without an advanced degree. While you can certainly land a relevant job with a bachelor’s degree, if you wish to become licensed and practice psychology, you must hold a master’s degree or higher.
Everyone has their reasons for choosing one path of study over another. However, if you find that any of the above reasons appeals to you, you owe it to yourself to consider an advanced psychology degree.
About the Author: After noticing that most of her friends came to her for advice on everything from dealing with their parents to dealing with spouses, Larissa Snowe decided to become a therapist. She recently finished her psychology master’s degree and is preparing for her licensing exam.