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What’s the difference between a Master’s in Counseling and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

March 10, 2014
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Master’s programs in psychology and counseling are similar; they both provide a deep understanding of human issues. However, the programs differ in the nuances of their education and career trajectories. Here is a comparison of psychology master’s degrees vs. counseling master’s degrees.

Educational Differences

One major difference counseling master s counseling psychology is the educational requirements. While the areas are similar, the topics you’ll cover in each master’s program are a bit different. This translates to very different career paths coming out of each of these programs.

A master’s in psychology will teach you more of the concepts of psychology. You’ll cover in depth many different areas of psychological research. Your focus may not be on social psychology, like it would be in a counseling master’s program. Instead, with a psychology master’s degree, you can choose to learn more in depth about neurology, cognitive psychology, or group psychology.

A program of study in psychology would be more research heavy. You will be learning a lot about research methodologies, and you may conduct your own experiment. This master’s program has one intended goal of preparing you for future research if you should choose that path.

On the other hand, a master’s program in counseling is more focused on the practical applications of psychology. You will learn a lot about potential problems and ways to help people cope with their problems. Your study will involve a lot of hands on work, practicing your techniques for dealing with patients. Since counseling is a more focused career path than psychology, you may find that your counseling degree problem deals a lot more with your future work and techniques for behaving professionally in your work. Here is an example of a master’s in counseling program, with its course of study and requirements: http://simpsonu.edu/Pages/Academics/Majors/GS/MACP.htm

Difference in Career Paths

Along with different paths of study, there are different career options for students of psychology and students of counseling. While there is often some crossover in the job functions, graduate of one program are usually not truly equipped to perform the functions of graduates of another program.

It’s fair to say that a master’s in psychology has many more potential career paths. A career as a therapist is one that’s most similar to a counseling career. A therapist uses different techniques to help patients. Through manipulations of the patient’s thinking or behavior, a therapist seeks to solve problems. Solutions for the problems are often suggested by the psychologist. Patients often come to a therapist without a clear idea of what’s wrong, and it is a therapist’s job to find and fix the problems.

Therapists are a major occupation of those with master’s degrees in psychology, but they are not the only one. Graduates of this program can choose to work in consulting, as well. They can provide solutions for businesses and assess how they can make their businesses more user friendly. Psychologists can analyze the patterns of groups and individuals, providing a business with predictions on how to best market and sell their service.

A number of graduates of master’s in psychology programs go into research. Research is the backbone of the field, and more educated professionals are needed to drive the quest for new psychological knowledge. Graduates will often choose to work in the field that they studied most intensely during their graduate career, since a lot of background knowledge is required to work as a researcher.

The career option provided by a master’s in counseling is usually some form of counseling. Counselors occupy slightly different functions than therapists because they deal with patients who have a clear problem. They may also be in the process of fixing the problem, but they seek a counselor’s advice on how to fix it more easily. Counselors provide support for their patients, but they often rely more on patients to be proactive in creating and enacting solutions to their own problems. Counseling positions exist in schools, rehabilitation centers, workplaces, career counseling centers, and others.

While these two programs are somewhat similar, they differ in many ways. When choosing which program to attend, consider the differences in educational topics and career paths. Either choice is a viable option that can lead to diverse and interesting work.