Graduate Paths for Different Helping Professions
Post Baccalaureate Level:
Certification in Substance Abuse/Addiction Counseling
- Can be done at the Bachelor’s level
- Many universities offer different certification programs related to substance abuse treatment
Master of Social Work
- Typically 2-3 years, programs accredited by Council on Social Work Education
- Versatile degree. Can lead to license in clinical social work
- Different areas of social work: social, medical, school, clinical, administration/management, social policy
- Work might involve case management, needs assessments, therapy in private practice, mental health care settings, developing/overseeing assistance programs
Master of Counseling (aka Clinical Mental Health Counseling)
- Typically 2-3 years, programs accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
- Graduate programs in counseling are usually housed in a university's education or counseling department, while psychology graduate programs are typically housed in psychology departments
- Different areas of counseling: addictions, career counseling, clinical mental health, community counseling, couples and family counseling, school counseling, student affairs and college counseling, counselor education and supervision
- A Masters degree in marriage and family therapy is another option
Master of Science in Clinical or Counseling Psychology
- Typically 2-3 years
- Different specialization options
- Provides an opportunity for further education in psychology, and for research experience
- May be a good option if you want to get into a doctoral program but your undergraduate academic GPA is low, or if you need more research experience
Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology
- Different than being a counselor
- Potential work options: private practice, counseling centers, college counseling centers, community mental health clinics, in academia as a professor or clinical supervisor
- Slightly less research focus than clinical psychology
- Less likely to work with severe mental illness or in hospital settings than clinical psychologists
- 4-6 years, programs accredited by American Psychological Association
- For a more detailed explanation of the differences between Counseling and Clinical Psychology: Counseling Psychology vs. Clinical Psychology
Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
- Potential work options: practicing clinician, in academia as a professor, as a researcher, consultant, supervisor.
- Trained as both a researcher and a practitioner
- Some clinical psychology programs offer specialization in child/adolescent psychology, adult psychology, health psychology, forensic evaluation and assessment, behavioral health, neuropsychology
- 5-7 years, programs accredited by American Psychological Association
School Psychology (most often, a doctoral degree is needed)
- Focused on helping children succeed in a school setting
- Work could involve assessments, consultation with children and families, program development, crisis management
- Typically a doctoral program, but there are some programs that offer a masters degree in school psychology.
- See this page from the National Association of School Psychologists for more details on graduate programs in school psychology.
Ed.D. in Psychology
- An Ed.D. is a doctorate in education. Ed.D. programs are often in school psychology and counseling psychology
- Can be a good option if you plan to work in an educational setting
- Often focuses on counseling, developmental, and educational psychology.
- Note that the American Psychological Association does not accredit Ed.D. programs.
This resource was created by Dr. Amber Norwood.