What Kind of Training Do Psychologists Need?

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a psychologist? After all, this is an important profession tasked with helping people with complex mental health issues.

So, what kind of training exactly do psychologists need? Read on to learn about the different types of education and training available for people who want to pursue a career in psychology.

Psychology 101

First off, what does psychology mean exactly?

From Greek, the term refers to “the study of the psyche [or mind].” In other words, psychologists are people who specialize in mental health and the functioning of the mind.

It makes sense, then, that they would need to spend a great deal of time studying the brain and learning the nuances of various schools of psychology and treatment options. Psychology already has a rich history featuring luminaries such as Freud and Jung who are generally studied in their sociohistorical context.

What Degrees are Needed to Become a Psychologist?

It can be a bit tricky understanding psychology versus psychiatry and what education and training are needed to become a licensed psychologist. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources available online nowadays that discuss psychology and psychologists: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/

So, to become a psychologist, there are many different degrees that one can consider. Read on to find out more!

A bachelor’s degree

Let’s start off with the bachelor’s degree. This is generally the first step on the way to becoming a psychologist. As you might guess, would-be psychologists tend to study… yep, psychology. That said, it’s possible to do another major but then apply to postgraduate degree programs in psychology. Common alternative majors are often in the humanities or social sciences, e.g. history, literature, sociology, etc.

A master’s degree

After the bachelor’s degree, many would-be psychologists may wish to pursue a master’s degree. That said, you can get certain licenses and practice psychology with only a bachelor’s depending on your state and the type of license you are seeking.

There are two types of master’s, the MA and the MS in psychology.

The MA is more of a humanities-type education with a focus on assessment and theory. The MS, on the other hand, will apply a more scientific view to psychology with a focus on data, statistics, and research.

No matter whether you pursue an MA or MS in psychology, this degree will permit you to become a clinical psychologist, a school psychologist, or a counseling psychologist, among other possibilities.

A doctorate in psychology

Lastly, it’s possible to continue after the master’s degree and pursue a doctorate in psychology. There are three different types.

A PhD in Psychology is probably the most common. It requires years of clinical coursework as well as research. People who get a PhD in psychology may pursue work in a variety of fields, including academia (as a professor), a consultant, health administrator, or researcher.

Then you have the Psy.D, or Doctor of Psychology. This is a specialized degree for students who plan on becoming counselors rather than academics or researchers. As such, Psy.D programs tend to focus primarily on clinical work so students can gain good experience.

Finally, there’s the EdD in Psychology, which is granted by colleges of education. People with this degree may choose to work in education as psychologists, administrators, researchers, or counselors.

Which Degree is Right for Me?

So, how do you know which degree is “right” for you? Well, it varies a lot on who you are as an individual and what you are hoping to do.

If you aim to be a clinical psychologist, an MA or even a bachelor’s will likely be enough. But if you hope to pursue being a consultant, professor, researcher, or administrator, or would simply like having this flexibility, then you will generally need a doctoral degree in psychology.


It can be confusing trying to figure out the difference between the various psychology degrees and what they mean for would-be psychologists. While becoming a psychologist can take many years of difficult studies and training, the pay-off is joining a meaningful profession where you help change lives by helping people with their mental health.