What Types of Specializations are Available when Obtaining a Psychology Degree?

Individuals pursuing a degree in psychology have the opportunity to specialize in one of several specific areas. The area of specialization often depends on multiple factors, including the type of degree being pursued and the type of career desired. A student pursuing a doctorate in psychology will likely have far more specialization options than a student in a bachelor’s degree program. Many bachelor’s degree programs focus on general psychology in order to allow students to develop a strong foundation in the field. However, master’s and doctoral-level programs encourage research specialization in order to allow the student to develop an area of expertise and help to choose a career path. Likewise, someone who wishes to work with children in a clinical setting will likely choose a different specialization than will someone who wants to work in a large corporate setting.

Clinical Specializations

Many students with degrees in psychology pursue careers in a clinical setting. These counselors and psychologists practice in hospitals, medical offices, public service agencies or private clinics. The following specializations are available for those hoping to pursue psychology careers in a clinical setting.

Counseling Psychology

This specialization focuses on therapeutic interventions and diagnostic procedures. This is one of the most popular areas of psychology and most students with a specialization in counseling psychology will pursue careers as clinical psychologists.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology involves the study of how perception, thoughts, memory and learning occur. Many times, cognitive specialists also study behavioral psychology as well.

Abnormal Psychology

This specialization focuses on abnormal behavior and psychopathology. This field of psychology is appropriate for working with individuals who have mental illness.

Child Psychology

Child psychologists specialize in the development and mental health of infants and children. These specialists may identify and treat issues related to autism spectrum disorders, adoption, divorce of the child’s parents, school difficulties or childhood mental health conditions.

School-Based Specializations

School Psychology

School psychologists work in public and private schools in order to help create a healthy learning environment. They work with parents and children to identify and treat childhood mental health issues or learning difficulties. In addition, they are part of intervention teams created following a school crisis.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychologists specialize in how children learn. These specialists are involved in designing appropriate learning interventions for gifted and special needs students.

Corporate Specializations

Social Psychology

Social psychologists focus on group behavior, social perception, aggression, prejudice, conformity and interactions. These specialists are valuable for organizations who are developing policy changes or working on conflict resolution according to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

This field of psychology focuses on workplace productivity, employee mental health and leadership training. Psychologists with an I/O specialization are often used for training employees and working with management to improve company morale and productivity.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists work with investigation organizations and legal teams in order to provide expertise on criminal and legal matters. They also may be used to identify patterns of behavior and thoughts in criminals in order to help with interventions.

These nine specializations are just a few of the dozens of specializations available for individuals pursuing degrees in psychology. Before choosing a specialization, it is essential that the student consider several factors, including the student’s passions and career aspirations. By choosing a specialization, the student will begin to develop an area of expertise that may help to determine a future career path.