What is Psychology?
Psychologists study the minds and behaviors of humans. While some psychologists do engage clients in talk therapy, they may also carry out organizational behavior or animal research. The term of “psychologist” tends to refer to professionals who work as social scientists, teaching in institutions of higher learning or carrying out psychological research. Those counselors who earn the title of psychologist have earned a doctoral degree and use their psychological knowledge and past research to help clients solve emotional or behavioral problems. This may include treating mental illness or disorders, though only those with a medical degree (psychiatrists) can prescribe medicine.
In order to get a sense of the different types of counselors or psychologists, it’s easier to look at the areas in which they practice.
- Research Psychologists
- Applied Psychologists
- Mental Health Psychologists
Online Psychology Education in Minnesota
While manufacturing is the largest industry in Minnesota; professional and business services ranks second. Manufacturing brought in $52.2 billion in a recent year. The rest of the top five industries include real estate, rental, and leasing; educational services, healthcare, and social assistance; and finance and insurance. Each of these accounted for more than $30 billion in state revenue.
Considering the psychology profession from an industrial viewpoint, it may be a stretch to connect this field to a state with a strong manufacturing base. However, not only are psychology students and professionals needed to maintain industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology standards in various industries, but they are necessary to combat addiction - which is at an all-time high, to work in the healthcare and social assistance industry - which is the fourth largest in the state, and much more. I-O psychology focuses on creating improvements in worker-related areas: selection of employees, motivation, training, development, teamwork, and the development of leaders. For future psychologists, earning a psychology degree in Minnesota could lead to any of these vital fields within growing industries.
Psychologists must be licensed in Minnesota, just as is required in every other state. However, there are varying levels of license, which allow some to work with a lower-level degree (addiction counselors) and require some to earn the highest possible degree (psychiatrists). Those looking to gain licensure will need to gain the appropriate education, pass a licensure exam, and gain experience in the field under the supervision of an already licensed psychology professional.
Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)
Future students getting ready to enter a community college in Minnesota may already know what degree they want to earn. Some Minnesota community colleges offer an online associate psychology degree, and some even offer transfer pathway Associate of Arts (AA) degrees, which can help them transfer their earned credits toward a bachelor’s degree program once they complete their associate degree. This can help students save money in the long run, gain early entry to the workforce, and more.
In these programs, they will learn scientific inquiry and critical thinking, communications, ethical and social responsibility, and complete some core courses in psychology. Courses in these degree programs allow students to learn via activities such as group work, discussion, and written assignments. They gain foundational knowledge in a variety of areas such as life-span development, social psychology, child and adolescent development, and more which can be applied in a higher-level degree program once they are ready to gain more education.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)
An online bachelor’s student majoring in psychology will have plenty of options when it comes time to earn their degree. They may find an online psychology degree program that fits their needs or choose from a variety of on-campus options all over the state. Online programs allow students to log in and complete their work from their home or another location with Wi-Fi, allowing them to develop an understanding of the methods, approaches, and principles of psychology as they study human thought and behavior wherever and whenever it is convenient for them. However, some students prefer to attend on-campus programs in order to gain greater access to professors, hands-on learning experiences, internships, and a network of other students going into the same field.
Bachelor’s graduates may find employment in mental health agencies, child care, casework, human relations, business and industry, health services, criminal justice, marketing and public relations, technical writing, or addiction counseling. However, those who wish to go into counseling in private practice should continue their education and earn a master’s degree.
Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS)
Graduate students planning to become psychologists in Minnesota may choose from a number of online psychology graduate degree options. These include degrees in industrial/organizational psychology; counseling for children and adolescents, marriage and family, grief, addictions; and much more. These programs are often available for part-time or full-time attendance, though those who attend part-time will take much longer to complete their degree. Though you might be able to take many classes in an online format, those students who wish to enter a counseling profession will need to gain face-to-face experience with clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Schools often help students set up these experiences so that they can gain full licensure.
After students complete a master’s program, they may choose to move into doctoral level study in their field or a related area in order to work as a psychologist. Those students who are working in a business field or earned their degree in I/O psychology might do better to enter an MBA program, which will provide an in-depth education in the business field with the chance to complete a specialization in your chosen field, such as I/O psychology or human resources management, depending on your interests.
Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)
Licensed counselors or psychologists who plan to earn their PhD should choose an online doctoral program that offers a wide spectrum of perspectives in the field. Their chosen doctoral program may also include several program areas or different avenues for study. PhD students can apply to the program area which aligns best with their professional plans and interests. These areas might include Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research Program, Social Psychology, Cognitive and Brain Science, Quantitative/Psychometric Methods, Counseling Psychology, Personality, individual Differences and Behavior Genetics, or Industrial/Organizational Psychology to name just some of your options.
Each one of these specialties offers research opportunities, though research goals will differ depending on the specialty. Upon graduation, students should be well-qualified researchers and scholars who operate well within a variety of occupational roles, including as full-time researchers or academics who spend their time teaching the next generation of psychology professionals.
Become a Psychologist in Minnesota
In Minnesota, as in almost every other state in the country, professionals in mental health careers are required to be licensed in order to practice or work directly with clients or patients. This is true of school counselors, family and marriage counselors, addiction counselors, and psychologists and psychiatrists in private practice.
To become a licensed professional counselor (LPC), you must have a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. The professional’s degree must come from a program that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) or by an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The degree must include supervised field experience of a minimum of 700 hours (this varies depending on the license you wish to hold), at least 72 quarter credits or 48 semester hours, academic coursework from specific subject areas, and more.
The licensed alcohol and drug counselors (LADC) licensing requirements differ from those of the LPC. These professionals are only required to hold a bachelor’s degree. However, they must complete 880 hours of an alcohol and drug counseling practicum and earn a passing score on a written and oral exam or a written comprehensive exam. They are also required to have 18 semester credits specifically in alcohol and drug counseling courses.
An LADC professional who is licensed or accredited by another jurisdiction for less than five years may receive reciprocity if the licensure or credential requirements from the first jurisdiction are “substantially similar” to Minnesota’s current licensure requirements.
No matter at what level you are considering working as a counselor, you should check with the state’s licensing board to ensure that you know the requirements before you begin the long process of earning your education.
Potential Careers for Psychology Graduates
- Social Worker
Social workers are responsible for helping clients to identify, cope with, and solve various problems in their daily lives. A social worker may work within a specialty of social work such as community social work, child protective services, adult protective services, or clinical social work. Clinical social workers have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat issues such as behavioral, mental, and emotional problems. Social workers assess the needs, strengths, situations, and support networks of their clients and help them find needed community services. This may include healthcare, food stamps, or childcare.
- Community Service Manager
Community service managers coordinate community programs and organizations that provide support for public well-being. They direct and supervise the workers who give these services to the public. They may work with members of the community and other stakeholders to identify which programs and services are necessary, manage administrative aspects of the programs, analyze data to determine how effective programs are, suggest improvements, carry out improvements, write proposals for social service funding, and plan and oversee outreach activities to increase awareness of programs.
- Child Counselor or Child Psychologist
Child counselors offer therapy to children, adolescents, or teens who are struggling with mental illness, learning, or emotional/behavioral issues. They may also work with children who have gone through some type of trauma, or who may be living in a dysfunctional home setting. Child counselors work to help their young clients break down their issues so they are better able to understand them. The psychologist’s goal is to work with their clients so that they are able to adjust and be successful at home and in school.
Psychiatrists are mental health professionals who have earned their MD. They offer support to their patients, developing individualized care plans which may include medication, and giving each patient individual attention. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications to their parents when counselors and mental health therapists cannot.
- Family and Marriage Therapist
Family and marriage therapists work with couples and families to help them overcome issues in their relationships. This begins by encouraging their clients to talk about their experiences and emotions. They also help them process their reactions and work with their clients and help them adjust to difficult changes in their lives.
A large part of working with couples and families is helping them develop the skills and strategies they need to make behavioral changes and develop coping skills. Part of their work with families and couples may involve referring them to other services such as inpatient treatment, if needed, or support groups.