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For Psychology Students

Professional and Student Psychologist Organizations
December 10, 2014
A comprehensive list of Psychologist and related professional and student organizations
Types of Psychologists
December 7, 2014
Sub-Specialties in Psychology


Psychology Education Topics

What can you do with a Psychology Degree?
Some top career choices for psychology majors.
Criminal Justice Careers with a Background in Psychology
December 10, 2014
The relationship between the study of Psychology and careers in the Criminal Justice field.

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Search for Undergraduate & Graduate Psychology Programs



Articles of Interest

What can you do with a Psychology Degree?
Some top career choices for psychology majors.
Criminal Justice Careers with a Background in Psychology
December 10, 2014
The relationship between the study of Psychology and careers in the Criminal Justice field.
Psychologist versus Psychiatrist
What are the differences?
Telespsychology
December 17, 2013
The use of Skype and Other Telecommunications by Psychologists


Social Psychologist: What they do and how to become one

Social psychologists are experts in human interaction. They research social influence, perception, and interaction. Areas of focus include self-perception, group processes, and altruism.

Division 8 of the American Psychological Association, the Social Psychology Network, notes that social psychology shares some common features with organizational psychology. Social psychology is also closely related to personality psychology, but personality psychologists tend to focus more on individual differences.

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology notes that on some level everyone is a social scientist as they try to answer questions like how a professor will grade or why a particular person is smiling at them. Social psychologists, though, use scientific methodologies that they have developed through years in graduate school. They may design experiments that examine, for example, how priming an individual with certain words affects their behavior a short time later.

Social psychologists are not health service professionals. They do not assess and treat individuals. They serve in an indirect way. Social psychology research is applied to areas like healthcare, law, and child care. Psychologists tackle questions like how to raise children to avoid violence and how to combat stereotypes. Social psychologists sometimes serve as expert witnesses in forensics. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology is one of several divisions that has worked to unravel the psychology of human response to climate change.

Education and Training for Social Psychologists

The required training takes place at the graduate level. It is possible to break into the field with a master's degree, but professionals generally need a doctoral degree to distinguish themselves as social psychologists.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including both clinical and non-clinical specializations. Capella University, also offers four online CACREP - accredited master's programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy, MS in School Counseling and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Click Here to learn more about psychology education options based on your current educational attainment.

Social psychology doctoral students typically do four or more years of graduate education. They take courses and seminars in content areas like social cognition, intergroup relations, and political psychology. The curriculum generally includes multiple courses in research design, statistics, and research methodologies. Students write and defend a traditional dissertation in the latter part of the program. This often follows a master's level research project/ thesis.

As part of the degree program, students may take courses in other departments -- social psychologists are, after all, employed in virtually all industries.

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology advises students that programs have far more applicants than they have slots. It can be a good idea to pursue psychology as an undergraduate, though it's not a requirement. What is fundamental is high grades. A psychology student can begin joining professional organizations as early as the undergraduate years. The Social Psychology Network cites the Psi Chi Honors societies as a good place to begin networking. Psychology students can also begin their research careers by assisting faculty with research projects.

Credentialing Standards for Social Psychologists

A social psychologist will likely not need state licensing. However, this depends on the psychologist’s duties and on policies of the state licensing agency.

Sometimes licensure is an option and not a mandate. The APA notes that it can be difficult for psychologists in academic settings to achieve licensure(http://www.apa.org/careers/early-career/licensure-for-academics.pdf).

Additional Professional Resources

The Society of Experimental Social Psychology is an additional professional resource. Journals include the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and the Personality and Social Psychology Review. Those interested in reading a textbook can find one online by clicking here.

Career Outlook and Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups all psychologists outside of clinical, counseling, school, and organizational/ industrial psychology together for reporting purposes; this reporting category includes many psychologists whose primary function is research. The mean salary was reported as $86,380 in May 2012. A 2009 APA report notes that just 2.6% of recent social psychology graduates were in the "unemployed, seeking" category (http://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/09-doc-empl/table-2.pdf).

The Social Psychology Network notes that it is more difficult to find positions in the academic arena than in other settings.

Learn more about your Psychology degree options based on your current educational attainment