There are many different areas within psychology that one can study, including: social psychology, personality, and developmental psychology. For students who are not sure if they want to invest four years towards earning a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree program allows them to enter the workforce sooner, as most programs can be completed in two years of full-time study. Depending on the school, students work towards an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS) in psychology.
Online Associate Degree in Psychology: Coursework and Training
While courses differ by school, there are some psychology and general education courses that students commonly take:
Psychology Degree Courses
- Introduction to Psychology: Introductory psychology courses give students an overview of psychological theories and concepts, including behavior, learning, cognition, and memory.
- Developmental Psychology: In developmental psychology courses, students study physical, emotional, and cognitive development at each major stage of the human life cycle.
- Psychology of Personality: Students study and analyze theories of personality. Examples of topics covered include personality traits, personality development, and how personality shapes behavior.
- Social Psychology: Social psychology courses examine how individuals behave in social settings. Students typically discuss such matters as conformity, attitude, and group dynamics.
- Abnormal Psychology: In addition to defining what constitutes “abnormal” behavior, abnormal psychology courses cover the causes, treatment, and prevention of abnormal behavior and mental disorders.
General Education Courses
- Communications: Communications courses help students develop and improve their interpersonal and rhetoric skills. Since psychology careers usually involve working with people, it is essential for students to build strong interpersonal communication skills.
- English Composition: In English composition classes, students read and analyze texts via both class discussions and essays. Analyzing texts helps students develop critical thinking skills, which they can apply when assessing and working to improve patients’ health.
- Biological Science: Entry-level psychology careers, particularly those involving patients with health issues, often draw on concepts taught in biological science courses. Examples of biological science courses that can be useful for psychology students include biology, anatomy, and public health.
Potential Career Opportunities for Graduates of Psychology Associate Degree Programs
Although earning an associate degree cannot guarantee job placement, having some postsecondary education can help. Below are some careers that individuals may pursue with an associate degree in psychology:
- Psychiatric technicians and aides help take care of individuals with a mental disorder or developmental disability. Technicians often provide therapeutic care, while aides help patients carry out day-to-day activities. Students interested in becoming a psychiatric technician or aide should take biological science courses to learn about the different types of disabilities that people can have.
- Occupational therapy assistants help occupational therapists treat patients with an injury, illness, or disability. They help patients recover and develop skills needed for everyday activities. Individuals who want to pursue a career as an occupational therapy assistant should take an abnormal psychology course to better understand the mental and emotional challenges that patients face.
- Teacher assistants supervise students and help teachers prepare for class. They often work with students individually or in groups to help them better understand the material. Students interested in becoming a teaching assistant should take classes in child or developmental psychology and communications to learn how to effectively interact and communicate with children.
- Human resources assistants maintain personnel records and gather information such as address and employment history regarding employees. Some human resources assistants also assist in the employee recruitment process by reviewing resumes to match job applicants with openings. Since human resources assistants must work well with other employees, students considering this career can learn how to effectively interact with different types of people through psychology of personality courses.
After earning an associate degree in psychology, graduates also have the opportunity to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. A bachelor’s degree can open up even more career opportunities, as students gain more knowledge and experience in the subject. Students who are thinking about pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology after completing their associate degree program should speak with an admissions counselor to ensure that the credits they earn will be transferable.
For more information on online associate degrees in psychology, request information from one of the following online schools.
"Information Clerks," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/information-clerks.htm
"Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapy-assistants-and-aides.htm
"Psychiatric Technicians and Aides," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/psychiatric-technicians-and-aides.htm
"Teacher Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm