What degrees can I earn?
Experimental psychology degrees are offered at the graduate level. Students interested in pursuing work in experimental psychology graduate programs typically first study the subject through general psychology and neuroscience departments. However, many students choose to instead engage with experimental psychology by pursuing other fields, like those in cognitive and developmental online psychology degree programs, which use the same methodologies. Top experimental psychology degrees are awarded through PhD programs.
Currently there are no psychology certificate programs online or on campus in experimental psychology. The main reason is that while experimental psychology remains a vital and critical field in research and applied psychology, it is considered a methodology rather than a specific area of study. Therefore, certification programs in related areas, such as youth development or cognitive processes, teach and utilize experimental psychology theories and methods.
Students can pursue advanced research through experimental psychology masters programs, which includes an MA or MS degree. MA programs prepare students for applied work in experimental psychology, as some graduates work as private consultants for hospitals and medical companies.
Most masters students, however, graduate from an MS program, where they are trained in the scientific methods of psychology, preparing them for lab research and teaching. Although there are no accredited MA or MS programs in experimental psychology, online masters in psychology programs specializing in related fields include coursework in experimental psychology. Most masters programs take 2 years to complete and award 32 to 36 credit hours.
Students who want to pursue doctoral work can pursue an experimental psychology PhD program, which is the highest degree in the field. Experimental psychology tends to be research heavy, as it is unusual to find clinical jobs in the field. Thus, no PsyD programs are offered. Most PhD in psychology programs in experimental psychology are completed within 4 to 7 years and include 102 to 107 credit hours.
Are there any online programs?
Although there are online courses in experimental psychology, there are no accredited online experimental psychology colleges. The University of Louisiana at Monroe once offered an experimental psychology online masters degree, but since much of the coursework requires hands-on training and research, the university phased out this option.
Rather than researching online experimental psychology schools, it will be more beneficial for you to look into online psychology programs that offer coursework in experimental psychology. If the courses are accredited, some masters and doctoral programs will allow you to transfer these credits.
When more online options are established, the best online experimental psychology program will most likely be a hybrid program integrating online coursework and on-campus training and research.
What kinds of classes will I take in my program?
Foundational undergraduate classes in experimental psychology consist of introductory courses in psychology, statistics and neuropsychology. Advanced undergraduate coursework, including online experimental psychology courses consist of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, language and cognition, memory and information processing and personality and psychological disorders.
Core graduate courses in experimental psychology include an advanced research course on behavioral analysis, neurophysiology and health and social psychology. Specific course topics in these fields may include behavioral testing, mapping brain areas involved in memory processing and the effects of stress in daily life.
Advanced students in experimental psychology will also concentrate in a related subfield such as cognitive or developmental psychology. Students and professionals can take online psychology courses in non-lab topics, such as contemporary theories of cognition and development in order to supplement their research.
What careers can I choose from?
Most experimental psychology jobs are research oriented, as very few venture into careers in psychology that deal directly with patient care or health care services. The best careers in experimental psychology include working as professors or researchers in labs funded by private businesses, universities and government organizations.
Experimental psychologists who work as professors frequently split their time between teaching, researching and publishing their findings in psychology journals. They tend to work and teach in several different disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience and statistics. All academic experimental psychologists have PhDs, which take 4 to 7 years to complete, and make an average annual salary of about $79,000.
Experimental psychologists also work for research centers, private businesses, universities and the government as researchers. The most commonly researched topics deal with perception and learning processes, including memory loss and learning disabilities. All competitive research labs require their employees to have PhDs. The average annual salary for researchers tends to be very high, at about $200,000.
Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree?
As experimental psychologists are not clinicians, they do not need to be state licensed in order to work. However, almost all competitive jobs in the field require a PhD. When you decide on your experimental psychology training, you should carefully consider work options. Since there are currently no experimental psychology certification programs available, your options for advanced degrees beyond a BA or BS will either be at the masters or doctoral level. Although an MA or MS will give you some advanced training that can be useful in your own research, you will most likely need a doctoral degree in order to work as a researcher or an academic.
No continuing education or training is necessary for professionals in the field. As experimental psychologists work in research labs and as academics, they tend to be the professionals researching and writing on the most cutting-edge experiments in the field. Post-baccalaureate psychology certifications are available to individuals needing to complete more coursework in order to be admitted into a competitive experimental psychology graduate program.