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Child psychology is a specialized field focusing on children’s psychological processes, development and behavior. Earning a master’s degree is essential for career advancement in this field, preparing you for a doctorate and licensure exams. A doctoral degree is the minimum education required to practice as a clinical child psychologist.
Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Child Psychology
Admission requirements for a master’s in child psychology vary depending on the program and institution. To qualify for enrollment, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. They should also meet a minimum GPA and submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation and GRE scores. Applicants may need to write a letter of intent or statement of purpose as well.
Master’s in Child Psychology Coursework
Below are examples of course titles and topics included in child psychology coursework.
Developmental psychology courses provide an overview of the stages of human development, including biological, social, emotional and cognitive development throughout the lifespan. Classes explore how biological, genetic and environmental factors affect development. Learners examine fundamental theories, research, research design, application and methods in the field.
In courses on intervention strategies, students examine behavior prevention and intervention theories, strategies, methods and best practices in psychology. Course topics typically include the history and theory behind psychotherapy and different therapy techniques. Students learn about empirically supported treatment methods for various psychological disorders. This includes planning, implementing and evaluating behavior change interventions.
Cognitive processes courses provide an overview of fundamental cognitive psychology theories, principles, concepts and research methodology. Students examine components of the internal mental processes making up human behavior, including perception, memory, problem-solving, attention, sensation, language and imagery.
Social psychology courses explore fundamental theories, key concepts, research and research methods in the field. Students examine individual behavior in social contexts, self-identity in social contexts, interpersonal behavior and relationships, social attitudes, social cognition and cultural phenomena.
Child Psychology Career Options
Family and Child Therapist
Average Annual Salary: Around $46,000 per year
Job Description: Family and child therapists promote the welfare of children and their families, focusing on clients’ social, emotional, behavioral, developmental and cognitive well-being. These professionals administer assessments, provide diagnoses and develop treatment and care plans. They often collaborate with parents, teachers and medical professionals closely involved in a child’s life to provide comprehensive care.
Child Welfare/Protection Social Worker
Median Annual Salary: $50,390 per year
Job Growth (2020-2030): 12%
Job Description: Child welfare and child protection social workers provide a variety of services to, and advocate for, vulnerable children and their families. They work closely with children impacted by numerous circumstances, including poverty, homelessness, poor academic performance, discrimination, abuse, neglect and maltreatment. Child protection social workers provide counseling, parental and educational support and housing assistance. They investigate cases of abuse and neglect and sometimes intervene to protect children from harm.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Median Annual Salary: $49,880 per year
Job Growth (2020-2030): 16%
Job Description: These therapists assess, diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They address interpersonal and behavioral issues and psychological distress as well. These professionals may also help resolve conflicts within relationships and family systems. Marriage and family therapists help their clients cultivate healthier relationships through child, relationship, premarital counseling and separation and divorce counseling.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Psychology
What is the highest degree in child psychology?
The highest degree someone can earn in child psychology is a doctoral degree. Child psychologists can earn a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.).
Can I do a psychology master’s without an undergraduate psychology degree?
Prerequisites and admission requirements for psychology master’s programs vary by school. It’s possible to complete a master’s in psychology without holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology. However, most programs require students to complete a certain number of credits in psychology courses.
How do I start a career in child psychology?
To start a career in child psychology, you must complete extensive education requirements including at least a master’s degree for some career paths and a Psy.D. or Ph.D. for clinical psychologists. You should also meet the licensing requirements of the state where you plan to practice.