Though not included in the recognized specialty or proficiency lists by the American Psychological Association (APA), social psychology is important as a career and as a degree in the broader field of psychology. Social psychologists (sometimes called personality psychologists) specialize in the study of how individuals interact with and are affected by each other and their environments. The terminal degree for social psychologists is a doctoral degree (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)) with coursework focused on social psychology. However, some aspiring social psychologists pursue stand-alone master’s degrees in the field, with which they can work in social psychology support roles or later apply to doctoral programs.
- There are 37 colleges and universities with social psychology programs.1
- 2 schools offer a certificate in social psychology.1
- 1 school offers an associate’s degree in social psychology.1
- 15 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in social psychology.1
- 21 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in social psychology.1
For not-for-profit colleges and universities.
Table of Contents
- Social Psychology Degree Requirements and Coursework
- Top-Ranked Social Psychology Degree Programs
- Best Value Schools with On-Campus Social Psychology Programs
- Select Social Psychology Degree Programs
- Social Psychologist Career Information
- Becoming a Social Psychologist
- Job Description
- Salary and Job Outlook
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
Degree Requirements and Coursework
An advanced degree program in social psychology focuses on areas such as close relationships; intergroup relations; social justice and perception; social influence; attitude and attitude change; motivation; emotion; personality; and social cognition. Since social psychology is already a specialization (also called concentration, specialty, or emphasis) within psychology, there are typically no further levels of specialization offered, but this may vary by school. Requirements for admission typically include a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, sociology, or a related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Other common admission requirements include minimum GRE scores as well as letters of recommendation and a strong application. Master’s degrees in social psychology typically take around one to two years to complete full time and doctoral degrees take between four and seven years of full-time study, frequently awarding a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) as part of the degree. Doctoral programs that do not include a master’s degree may take less time to complete. Sample coursework that students of social psychology may take include:
- Conflict and Psychological Control
- Developmental Social Cognition
- Interpersonal Influence and Social Power
- Political Psychology
- Psychology of Justice
- Research Methods in Social Psychology
- Social Judgment and Decision Making
- Social Stigma
- Stereotyping and Prejudice
Top-Ranked Social Psychology Degree Programs
US News & World Report’s Best Social Psychology Doctorate Programs 2017
- Stanford University (#1)
- University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (#2)
- Ohio State University (#3)
- University of California–Los Angeles (#4 tie)
- Yale University (#4 tie)
- Harvard University (#6 tie)
- New York University (#6 tie)
- Princeton University (#8)2
Best Value Schools with On-Campus Social Psychology Programs
The table below represents the not-for-profit colleges and universities with the best value graduate-level social psychology programs based on our research. Of all schools offering on-campus programs in social psychology, the only schools to make our list have undergraduate graduation rates of 70% or above (higher graduation rates are widely regarded as an indicator of success) and net prices of less than $20,000 per year. In addition to these factors, we have included US News & World Report national rankings, the percentage of faculty with tenure, and related graduate degrees offered.
|School||Graduate Degree(s)||US News Social Psych Rank2||US News National Rank3||Grad Rate1||% Tenured Faculty4||Net Price1|
|University of California-Irvine||PhD Social & Personality Psychology||NR||#33 tie||85%||57%||$13,944|
|Stony Brook University||PhD Social & Health Psychology||NR||#80 tie||72%||32%||$14,330|
|University at Buffalo||Adv. Certificate: Data Analysis for the Social Sciences;|
MA General Psychology: Social-Personality;
PhD Social-Personality Psychology
|Harvard University||PhD Social Psychology||#6 tie||#2||96%||45%||$17,030|
|University of Connecticut||PhD Social Psychology||NR||#63 tie||83%||39%||$18,699|
Select Social Psychology Degree Programs
Traditional Master’s Programs
The University at Buffalo’s Department of Psychology offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in General Psychology with optional concentrations in Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Social-Personality Psychology. Graduates of the MA in Psychology program will be prepared to enter the workforce in positions in research, mental health, management, and administration, or pursue doctoral study. The learning environment for MA students is equipped to give real-world research experience through lab work. A total of 30 credit hours are required for the degree, including a course in graduate statistics, a distribution course from each of the four concentration areas (Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive, and Social), and 15 credits in electives. All students will work closely with a mentor on a “mentored MA project,” which is a scholarly paper documented with research to answer a clearly identified question.
Loyola University offers a terminal master’s program as well as a combined Master of Arts (MA) and a PhD in Applied Social Psychology. Of over 70 applicants per year, only 20% are accepted, and of those, about one-third enroll in Loyola’s program. The terminal MA in Applied Social Psychology primarily prepares graduates for research specialist roles, working under the supervision of a PhD supervisor in settings including market research firms, research centers, and government agencies. The master’s program at Loyola comprises 30 credit hours and requires students to complete a master’s thesis to graduate. The program aims to train professionals who are prepared to design and implement changes that address significant issues related to the welfare of individuals, groups, organizations, and society. Students will study theory and principles of social psychology while simultaneously pursuing their specialized interests. The program trains graduates to be effective communicators, sharing through presentations, the written word, and teaching. Eight faculty members instruct the approximately 40 students in the master’s and doctoral programs. Loyola also offers a five-year degree program for a Bachelor of Science (BS)/Master of Arts (MA) in Applied Social Psychology. In this track, students will complete 120 credit hours by the end of their fourth year and may finish their master’s degree in a fifth year.
Traditional Doctoral Programs
Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio, offers one of the top social psychology programs in the nation as ranked by US News & World Report in theirBest Graduate Schools in Social Psychology ranking. The program focuses on theoretical foundational coursework to develop students’ skills in conceptual analysis of social behavior and social problems. Before entering the doctoral portion of the program, all students are involved in a research project in collaboration with a social psychology faculty member. Students are expected to complete coursework in two minor areas, such as cognitive or quantitative psychology or a subject outside the psychology department (such as political science). In the third year of study, students are formally admitted into the PhD program and spend the remainder of the year targeting independent objectives with an additional one to two years spent completing a PhD dissertation.
The University of Michigan’s (Michigan)’s Department of Psychology offers a PhD program in Social Psychology that has been recognized in US News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools in Social Psychology. Michigan’s program has 18 core faculty and 10 affiliated faculty to instruct the average of 30 graduate students enrolled at one time. Michigan offers several interdisciplinary training programs for social psychology students, including Culture & Cognition (Department of Anthropology); Decision (multiple departments); Evolution and Human Adaptation; Organization Studies; Social Work and Psychology; and Women’s Studies and Psychology. The social psychology program is research-heavy; students have opportunities to work with researchers at Michigan’s top facilities. Past graduates of this program have been offered faculty and research positions at some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities. While the entire program can take as little as four years to complete, most candidates complete the coursework in five years.
Students in the PhD program at Harvard University are taught to understand the human experience and social behaviors. Study focuses on neural and physiological aspects (in group and individual behavior) and social and cultural contexts (how people think, feel, and act). Harvard’s program encourages students to meet at “intersections,” interacting with other areas of psychology (such as cognitive neuroscience), with other departments (such as Economics and Sociology), and with Harvard professional schools (the Law School, Business School, and the Medical School). A total of 65 graduate students are enrolled at any given time among all five of the psychology research programs. The research-oriented program prepares graduates to become research psychologists, typically in academia. Other graduates may work in government, consulting firms, or social service agencies. While some students can complete the program in four years, most take five to six years. Harvard considers its program “quite selective,” requiring excellent grades, high GRE scores, and persuasive recommendations. It also emphasizes candidates’ statements of purpose in order to ensure that the students have interests that are compatible with the department.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on social psychology and a master’s in psychology, both of which can be completed entirely online. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Social Psychology program examines social psychology from a broad lens, including how one looks at oneself, understands oneself and others, and interacts with society. SNHU’s program prepares graduates to work in businesses, community relations, marketing, and sales careers. Social Psychology courses include Cross-Cultural Psychology, Social Cognition and Perception, and Social Psychology. Students can access any class 24/7. While the Master of Science (MS) in Psychology degree does not offer a social psychology emphasis, it does include coursework that examines the area of social psychology among other areas such as personality, cognitive psychology, and personality.
Social Psychologist Career Information
How to Become a Social Psychologist
All 50 states require a doctoral degree to become a licensed psychologist. To become a social psychologist, you will need either a PhD in Psychology or a PsyD. You will also be required to complete your state’s mandated number of supervised experience hours as well as pass a national exam, the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). In order to become a social psychologist, you will likely:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree and (optionally) a master’s degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field.
- Earn an accredited doctoral degree in psychology with a focus in social psychology.
- Complete the supervised clinical experience hours required by your state.
- Pass your state’s required exams, including the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
- Apply for and receive a clinical psychology license from your state board.
- Begin practicing as a licensed social psychologist in your state.
- Complete any required continuing education each year in order to maintain your license.
Social psychologists study how social interactions and environments play a part in shaping individuals’ mindsets and behaviors. They are interested in both individual and group interactions and attempt to find ways to improve negative interactions. Social psychologists study how group dynamics can influence our choices and sometimes cause issues such as prejudices, bullying, criminal activity, and substance abuse. Many social psychologists teach and conduct research in an academic setting. Others are employed as consultants, marketing directors, managers, or technology designers, usually in a business setting, or in the government or non-profit sectors.
What Jobs Can You Get with This Degree?
With a social psychology degree, you can pursue a job with titles such as:
- Marketing director
- Personality psychologist*
- Political strategist
- Social psychologist*
- Technology designer
*A doctoral degree is usually required for this job title.
Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary of $80,370 for psychologists in 2019.5 Those classified as “other psychologists” earned a median salary of $101,790 in the same year.5 Psychologists working in government earned the highest median pay (averaging $96,870 per year) followed by those working in hospitals ($88,480 per year), ambulatory healthcare services ($82,250 per year), and in school settings ($76,960 per year).5 The job outlook for psychologists is positive as well, with 14% job growth expected through 2028 overall, and 12% growth expected during the same timeframe for “other psychologists.”5 This growth expectation is much higher than the projected national average for all occupations (5%) over the same time period.5
- Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP): The SPSP is the APA’s division of personality and social psychology (Division 8), which seeks to advance the field and promote scientific research exploring how people think, feel, and interact as a result of their environments.
- World Association for Personality Psychology (WAPP): The WAPP is an organization whose mission is to advance theoretical personality psychology worldwide, organizing scientific meetings and publishing a journal dedicated to the subject.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a degree in social psychology?
The length of time it will take you to get a social psychology degree largely depends on the type of degree you are seeking. With full-time study, a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years, a master’s degree typically takes one to two years, and a doctoral degree typically takes four to seven years (typically with a master’s degree included).
What kind of degree do I need to practice social psychology?
Most people in the field of social psychology pursue a PhD in social psychology, as this is considered the terminal degree for the field. A doctoral degree is usually required to teach or conduct research at the university level, though some businesses may only require a master’s degree for those seeking to work in a marketing or strategic role. All 50 states require a doctoral degree for licensure as a clinical psychologist, so prospective clinicians who wish to provide psychological services to clients will need to pursue doctoral study.
Can I get a master’s degree in social psychology?
While some schools offer master’s programs in social psychology, most offer PhD programs. Most people who are interested in social psychology will pursue a doctoral degree in the subject, and not only will many jobs in the field will require it, but it is required for prospective licensed clinical psychologists. A master’s degree will prepare graduates for research assistant positions and other supportive roles in the field and may also be a good first step for those who are not sure whether or not they want to commit to a doctoral program.
What kind of jobs can you get with a social psychology degree?
Graduates of master’s in social psychology degree programs may be able to find jobs as consultants, marketing managers, postsecondary teachers, or research specialists. Social psychology doctoral degree holders can add clinical psychologist and full-time professor to their list of job possibilities.
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. US News & World Report Best Social Psychology Programs: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/social-psychology-psychology-rankings
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-5
Psychology is a challenging major, and many of your tasks will need you to reference sources from online journal article databases and support many of the claims you make. There will also be plenty of lectures, however, your learning will be focused on reviewing various academic viewpoints and empirical evidence.How do I pass a psychology course? ›
- Start With the Basics. Before you begin studying any topic in great depth, it is important to make sure that you have a strong grasp of the basics. ...
- Focus on Developing Effective Study Habits. ...
- Sharpen Your Writing Skills. ...
- Participate in Psychology Research. ...
- Delve Deeper Into the Subject.
Social psychologists are also employed in the private sector in roles as varied as consultants, researchers, marketing directors, managers, political strategists and technology designers.What is the easiest degree to get? ›
- Criminal Justice.
- Religious Studies.
- Social Work.
Psychology is harder than sociology. A Psychology Degree is more complex to understand and a lot more coursework, exams, and lectures than sociology. The level of difficulty will also depend on your level of interest in either psychology or sociology.How do I study for a psychology exam in one day? ›
- Make a list of important terms, concepts, and ideas.
- Look for summaries in the textbook.
- Make more notes as you go.
- Make use of mind maps, charts, and graphs.
- Teach a friend.
- Review your important terms lists.
- Study out of order.
- Take practice tests.
Behaviorism may not be as dominant as it once was, but it is still essential to understand the basic behavioral principles if you want to learn more about psychology. Start by learning more about important concepts such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
A bachelor's degree offers the best pathway to a variety of psychology careers. Graduates may take positions in social and community services, human resources, and rehabilitation services or pursue employment in non-psychological fields such as business, criminal justice, and education.Why should I study social psychology? ›
Learning more about social psychology can enrich your understanding of yourself and the world around you. By learning more about how people view others, how they behave in groups, and how attitudes are formed, you can gain a greater appreciation for how social relationships influence individual functioning.What is an example of social psychology? ›
The decisions you make and the behaviors you exhibit might depend on not only how many people are present but exactly who you are around. For example, you are likely to behave much differently when you are around a group of close friends than you would around a group of colleagues or supervisors from work.
Communication, interpersonal skills, research skills (analysis and statistics), presentation skills, and detachment. Generally, Social Psychologists work with individuals from complex and difficult life situations.How do I do well on a psychological test? ›
- Start by Looking Over the Test. Tetra Images / Getty Images. ...
- Pace Yourself. moodboard / Getty Images. ...
- Don't Skip Around. ...
- Use the Process of Elimination. ...
- Read Each Question Carefully.
Intro Psych will always be a hard course because the material is complex and broad, but it may be even more difficult for you because you may lack background and experience to tie all this new material to, and because your academic skills may be less-than-perfect.How do you write psychology answers? ›
- Restate the question. ...
- State the study (or studies) that will be used in the answer. ...
- Define the key term (or terms) in the topic. ...
- Explain the topic. ...
- Summarize the supporting study.
- Petroleum Engineering.
- Biochemistry or Biophysics.
- Cell and Molecular Biology.
- Biomedical Engineering.
- Aero and Astronautical Engineering.
The most stressed out majors in America are Medicine, Architecture and Nursing, according to new data. STEM majors feature heavily as the most stressful degrees in the nation – compare that to arts-related courses, which students say make them feel less stressed on average.What is the hardest bachelor degree? ›
- #8: Biochemistry or Biophysics. ...
- #7: Astronomy. ...
- #6: Physics. ...
- #5: Cell and Molecular Biology. ...
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- #2: Chemical Engineering. ...
- #1: Architecture. Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class Each Week: 22.20.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median annual earnings of recent graduates with a bachelor's in psychology is $41,400. That's marginally lower than sociology, which comes in at $43,100.Can I be a psychologist with a sociology degree? ›
A background in sociology can be a springboard to a career in mental health counseling. The job of a mental health counselor is to treat clients with emotional problems and relationship concerns. They offer individual counseling sessions and facilitate support groups.Can u be a therapist with a sociology degree? ›
Sociology, education, and health sciences are also good choices for students interested in becoming therapists. While an advanced degree in psychology can open up a wide variety of career options, there are several other program choices that you may also want to consider.
- Know what your lecturers want. Before you start studying a topic, write down your lecturer's learning objectives for that topic. ...
- Make a study plan. Many people waste time when they study because they don't have a plan. ...
- Use effective study techniques.
Study Every Day: Establish a daily routine where you study in one place a minimum of 4 -5 hours each day. There are different kinds and 'levels' of study discussed below. What is important is that study becomes the centerpiece of your day and the continuous element in your work week. Do not wait for exam-time to study.How can I study faster without forgetting? ›
So, if you want to determine how to study well for exams without forgetting then you must try to study for short periods. Try to take a break in between and then again come back and study. This will enable you to learn faster as well as remember whatever you learn for a longer period of time.Is psychology easy to study? ›
Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.What subjects do I need to study psychology? ›
There are no specific subjects needed, but Life Science or Biology will come as an advantage because, psychology has a lot of focus on the human brain and sensory systems. If you have an NQF level 4 certificate with an Admissions Point Score (APS) of over 21+ points, you are likely to qualify for a psychology degree.Can you study psychology without going to college? ›
While it makes sense that you major in psychology if you want to become a therapist, it actually isn't necessary. In fact, you don't even need a master's degree or a doctorate in psychology to become a therapist.Which field of psychology pays the most? ›
Psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors. The average salary is $217,798, according to PayScale.Is a psychology degree worth it? ›
The short answer is yes. A bachelor's degree in psychology sets you up for success whether you enter the workforce immediately or continue to graduate school. Continue reading for our complete breakdown. Psychology is a fascinating science.Can I study psychology without maths? ›
what colleges,jobs are in psychology.. Hi, It is not necessary to have maths in 12th standard as the eligibility says that you will need to attain 50% marks in aggregate in your 12th. There are independent entrance examinations for admission to UG as well.What are the disadvantages of social psychology? ›
- Lack Aetological validity?
- Lacks control.
- Low ethics.
The goal of social psychology is to understand cognition and behavior as they naturally occur in a social context, but the very act of observing people can influence and alter their behavior.What are the 7 big ideas of social psychology? ›
- Social cognition and perception.
- The self in a social context.
- Attitudes and persuasion.
- Group decisions.
- Attraction and close relationships.
- Prosocial behavior.
- Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
Social psychology focuses on three main areas: social thinking, social influence, and social behavior. Each of these overlapping areas of study is displayed in Figure 1.1.What is social psychology in your own words? ›
Social psychology is the study of how individual or group behavior is influenced by the presence and behavior of others.Is social psychology the same as sociology? ›
But if psychology deals with individual behavior, what is “social” psychology, and how is it different from sociology? Put simply, social psychology is the study of how individuals relate to and try to function within broader society, whereas sociology looks at the ways entire groups function within society.Who is a famous social psychologist? ›
Lewin is known as the father of modern social psychology because of his pioneering work that utilized scientific methods and experimentation to look at social behavior. Lewin was a seminal theorist whose enduring impact on psychology makes him one of the preeminent psychologists of the 20th century.How much do social psychologists make? ›
How much does a Social Psychologist make? As of Sep 24, 2022, the average annual pay for a Social Psychologist in the United States is $87,224 a year.Is social psychology basic or applied? ›
Scientists in all fields distinguish between basic and applied research. Basic research in personality and social psychology tends to focus on fundamental questions about people and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.Is a degree in psychology worth it? ›
For psychologists and mental health professionals, the outlook is favorable at an expected 14% growth rate through 2028. Earning a psychology degree now and continuing on to graduate work can set you up for a steady career in a growing job market.Is psychology easy major? ›
Unlike other degrees, psychology is not as complex or difficult to understand. So, in short, is seen as one of the easiest majors. Noting, that two-year degrees in psychology offered by community colleges and junior colleges are the easiest psychology programs you will find.
Yet many students are shocked to discover that it is one of the most difficult courses they take, especially early in their college careers.Is it worth becoming a psychologist? ›
If you enjoy working with people and helping them achieve their full potential, then becoming a psychologist can be extremely rewarding. While you will often face challenges, seeing your clients make real progress and work towards their goals can give you a feeling of accomplishment.What is the best degree to get in 2022? ›
- Nursing. ...
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- Education. ...
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- Architecture. ...
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After earning a psychology degree, graduates can pursue social science and counseling careers. A graduate degree in psychology can lead to a career as a psychologist -- one of the best jobs for introverts with an analytical outlook.Is BA in psychology difficult? ›
Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.What is the shortest psychology degree? ›
An associate degree in psychology is an undergraduate-level degree that usually takes two years to complete. The associate degree option is often offered at community colleges, and many students then transfer to a state university to complete a bachelor's degree.What is the hardest psychology? ›
1. Parapsychology. By its very nature, parapsychology is even more vague than “traditional” mental health practices. It's the study of nonquantifiable phenomena, such as telepathy, telekinesis, extrasensory perception, and mind reading.What's the easiest psychology? ›
Psychology Studies at the Undergraduate Levels
Two-year degrees in psychology offered by community colleges and junior colleges are the easiest psychology programs you will find.
- Film History. If you're imagining that you'll be sitting in a theatre and watching films all the time, then you're only somewhat wrong. ...
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- Psychology. ...
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Math classes, and statistics in particular, are an important part of any psychology program. You will need to take math classes that fulfill your school's general education requirements as well as additional statistics requirements to fulfill your psychology program's core requirements.
Behaviorism may not be as dominant as it once was, but it is still essential to understand the basic behavioral principles if you want to learn more about psychology. Start by learning more about important concepts such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
Psychologists tend to be predominantly investigative individuals, which means that they are quite inquisitive and curious people that often like to spend time alone with their thoughts. They also tend to be social, meaning that they thrive in situations where they can interact with, persuade, or help people.What field of psychology has the most jobs? ›
The field of clinical psychology employs the most workers of any field within psychology. These professionals assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide range of settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and private practices.What are the disadvantages of studying psychology? ›
- Extensive Education and Training. Most psychologists spend many years in higher education. ...
- Evening and Weekend Hours. ...
- Possibility of Patient Violence. ...
- Isolation in Practice. ...
- Emotional Strain. ...
- Working with Children.