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What is Psychology?

Are you considering psychology colleges and degree programs in Missouri? Psychology is an ideal major for those who want to study human cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behaviors. The degree is particularly relevant for those who intend to seek professional employment in the field. Graduates typically possess the knowledge and skills needed to observe, interpret, and record how people relate to one another and their environments.

While psychology degrees can lead to a wide variety of careers, many choose to pursue work as psychologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for these professionals is expected to increase by 8% nationwide from 2020 to 2030. This is about average when compared to all other occupations. It’s worth noting, however, that some related counseling professions are likely to see greater increases in employment. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, for example, are likely to see growth of around 23% in the same timeframe. The demand for genetic counselors will rise even more, with a projected increase of 26%, though this is a different form of counseling that will require a different educational path.

Growth in these occupations is primarily due to increasing demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies. This is especially true for educational facilities, as the connection between mental health and learning continues to become more prominent. Aging populations also utilize various psychological services when dealing with the mental and physical changes associated with growing older.

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Online Psychology Education in Missouri

Educational services, healthcare, and social assistance is considered the fourth largest industry in Missouri. It accounts for $33.3 billion in revenue each year. As of May 2021, the state employed only 410 psychiatrists and 2,810 psychiatric technicians. The state also employed 4,220 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, as well as 380 marriage and family therapists. Missouri is also one of the states with the most educational, guidance, and career counselor employees in the nation.

While there are many online psychology programs available, prospective students who intend to work in Missouri should give preference to colleges and universities within the state. Distance learning offers flexible scheduling and allows students to complete coursework from anywhere internet is available but earning degrees outside of the state can make it more difficult to find employment after graduation. Local institutions are more familiar with the specific rules and regulations regarding state certification and licensure. Every state has different requirements and transferring education and credentials from one to another can be complicated. Additionally, schools in Missouri often have established relationships with local practices that can make obtaining internships and professional positions much easier.

Psychology degrees are most appropriate for individuals interested in pursuing careers in social services. There are, however, many different specialties within the field to choose from. While many graduates strive to become psychologists, other employment opportunities include counselor or therapist. Most professionals with this type of degree are dedicated to helping others live healthier, happier lives. Using a combination of psychological knowledge and research, they work to address problems like mental illness or substance abuse, but they may also serve as advocates as well. Alternatively, graduates can become college and university professors or scientists conducting psychological research. Specific job requirements will vary for counseling and therapist positions.

Those planning to become psychologists should realize that the profession is often divide into three categories: applied psychologists, research psychologists, and mental health psychologists. Mental health psychologists work with patients experiencing mental disorders or psychological distress, while research psychologists conduct studies and experiments meant to advance knowledge in the field. Applied psychologists pull aspects from the first two options; they utilize psychological principles and perform research in order to solve real-world problems.

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Psychologists often conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function, observe individuals during surveys, identify emotional patterns, and discuss possible treatment plans with clients. They may also write articles, research papers, and/or reports to highlight their research findings. It’s also common for these professionals to supervise interns, clinicians, and/or other counseling professionals.

Those interested in obtaining employment as psychologists, therapists, or counselors will require degrees. Even individuals pursuing less technical positions within the field should plan to complete some form of higher education. Missouri is home to numerous academic programs, with options available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Prospective students should assess their professional goals carefully before determining which degree or degrees is most appropriate.

Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An online associate in psychology generally consists of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. These programs are comprised of both general education and major-specific content. Student can expect to receive a broad introduction to the career while building relevant skills.

Some common classes include:

  • Child Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Psychology of Aging
  • Counseling

It’s important to realize that, while some colleges and universities offer this type of degree, it’s not enough to meet education requirements for many professions and licensures in the field. Graduates can only apply for a limited number of entry-level jobs related to social services, management, or customer service.

Those desiring more advanced employment opportunities, however, will need to enroll in at least bachelor’s degree programs. Associate degree credits can be transferred to four-year institutions easily as long as the schools are properly accredited.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

An online bachelor’s in psychology generally consists of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Timeframes may be longer for those attending classes part-time, but individuals with prior academic credit may finish much faster.

Curriculums vary but will be comprised of both general education and major-specific content. Students can expect to complete a mixture of coursework, labs, and electives. Some common topics covered include social psychology, biological psychology, sensation and perception, and introduction to addiction theories.

Students may also be given opportunities to designate concentrations, or specialties, in the field.

Some typical options include:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology

This is an extremely popular major in the United States, although a bachelor’s degree is still not sufficient to qualify graduates for high-level professions and licensures. In fact, most bachelor’s degrees in psychology are designed to prepare students for entry into graduate programs. Candidates will need to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores prior to admittance. Those seeking employment right away can apply for many entry-level positions in the field. They also tend to do well in business and management positions.

Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS)

An online master’s in psychology generally consists of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Program specifics vary, but coursework tends to be more focused at this level. Students can expect instruction in social psychology, cognitive process, and theories of personality. In addition to instructional classroom learning, professors often assign research and practical application assignments.

Some of the most common course requirements include:

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Theories of Personality

As with bachelor’s degrees, many colleges and universities allow psychology students opportunities to specialize in specific sub-fields.

Some of the most common concentrations offered include:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Research
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology

This degree may be appropriate for individuals who plan to become professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists. Prospective students should verify licensing standards, however, as additional graduate work may be necessary before applying. Master’s degrees in psychology are also unable to satisfy all the licensure requirements for psychologists in Missouri. Those interested in this profession will need to enroll in doctoral degree programs. Graduates at this level do tend to have better employment prospects and are likely to make more money than professionals with associate and bachelor’s degrees.

Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

Doctoral degrees generally consist of between 60 to 90 credit hours and take full-time students between four and seven years to complete. As the highest possible degree available in the field, students can expect to perform a significant amount of research. While every institution is different, most programs require students to write and defend dissertations prior to graduation.

Some examples of possible classes include:

  • Behavioral Assessments
  • Professional Ethics in Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Cognitive Development
  • Neuroscience

Notably, there are two primary psychology degrees available: the doctor of psychology (PsyD) degree and the doctor of philosophy in psychology (PhD) degree. Those interested in clinical work should give preference to PsyD degrees, while professionals pursuing careers in research will be better served by a PhD.

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This type of degree can lead to many exciting, personally rewarding, and lucrative career opportunities. It is also required to become a licensed psychologist in Missouri. Doctorate degrees are also necessary in order to become postsecondary academic instructors at colleges and universities throughout the state.

Become a Psychologist in Missouri

Becoming a psychology professional in Missouri starts with determining your ultimate career goals. Majoring in this subject can lead to a variety of employment opportunities, so it’s important to identify the type of work you are most interested in performing. This will help you select the most appropriate degree programs moving forward.

Psychologists in Missouri must be licensed. The licensure process is overseen by Committee of Psychologists, which is part of the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.

Requirements include:

  • Doctoral degree in psychology
  • Passing scores on all three component examinations
  • Two years of supervised experience

It’s important to realize that Missouri has licensure requirements for marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and social workers as well. Those interested in these professions may be able to obtain the necessary credentials with master’s degrees. All three do, however, require candidates to achieve passing scores on specified field examinations and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

Professionals will also need to complete continuing education in order to maintain their licensures. Acceptable sources include accredited programs, seminars, or activities.

Potential Careers for Psychology Graduates

The psychology careers available to you will depend on the type of degree you earned. Missouri offers numerous employment opportunities to graduates at every level. Responsibilities and wages vary, but some of the most common professions in the field include the following.

  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors oversee the treatment of patients with substance abuse disorders. They are often responsible for providing counseling in individual and group settings, as well as creating treatment plans and evaluating patient progress. Some cases may also call for the implementation of various therapeutic treatments. These professionals must maintain thorough documentation and patient histories. According to PayScale, substance abuse and addiction counselors make an average base salary of $39,950 per year.
  • Counselor
    Residential counselors oversee the treatment of patients at live-in facilities. They typically offer both individual and group counseling services but may also help facility staff members handle crucial situations or resolve conflicts within the residence. These professionals can work with a variety of patient types, including those with disabilities or addictions, troubled youths, and the elderly. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors diagnose and treat patients with mental health conditions. In most cases, these professionals specialize in a particular form of care such as eating disorders, addiction, or young adult development. They often offer one-on-one and group counseling sessions based on patient need. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors help guide patients through the bereavement process after the deaths of loved ones. They often provide insight and assistance, as well as general support, to ensure recovery. These professionals also promote healthy coping mechanisms as their patients move through the various stages of grief. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.

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  • School Counselor
    School and guidance counselors provide students with assistance as they identify, work toward, and achieve personal, academic, social, and developmental goals. Responsibilities vary based on individual need, but these professionals regularly offer guidance to students preparing for college. They may also help transfer students adjust to their new surroundings, refer students for additional support services, intervene during challenging situations, and coordinate efforts with parents. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
  • Social Worker
    Clinical social workers provide emotional and mental support to their patients. This may include conducting psychosocial evaluations and coordinating care interactions during therapy. These professionals often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, and substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
  • Psychiatrist
    Psychiatrists diagnose mental disorders. They do this by evaluating patient symptoms, behaviors, and past medical histories. Once diagnoses are established, these professionals work to provide the necessary guidance needed to recover. This may mean prescribing treatments and/or medications intended to make it easier for patients to manage and/or heal their disorders. According to PayScale, psychiatrists make an average base salary of $215,600 per year.

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