Master of Arts in Psychology (MA-PSYCH) is graduate program designed to teach various theories, methods, techniques and principles in the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. The program intends to prepare students to practice in the areas of psychological assessment and diagnosis, counseling, group influence and psychological research.
There are two types of graduate programs within the MA in Psychology degree:
- Non-thesis Master’s Program
The program trains students to understand concepts, principles, issues and the general practice of Psychology with the use of theories and research. Students are not required to write a thesis paper, but are required to complete a culminating project. The non-thesis program is more suited for students interested in a career in government and non-government institutions.
- Thesis Master’s Program
Students of this program learn to design and implement interventions in social systems. This programs aims to develop students’ competencies in the major fields of Psychology such as Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Counseling and Social and Community Psychology. A thesis paper is required. The thesis program is suitable for those who wish to work in social services, the academe, research institutions or those who wish to practice Psychology privately.
Why do I need a Master degree in Psychology?
If you wish to practice Psychology professionally, you need to hold a master’s degree in Psychology. A master’s in Psychology along with an internship, is a prerequisite for taking the Licensure Examination for Psychologists and becoming a Licensed Psychologist in the Philippines. Although there are board examinations that BS Psychology graduates can take without having a Master in Psychology (namely Psychometricians and Guidance Counselors), the Licensure Examination for Psychologists is the only exam that will allow you to practice as a Licensed Psychologist.
In addition, some colleges and universities require a master’s degree and/or being a Licensed Psychologist from their psychology professors.
A master’s degree in Psychology is also important because will strengthen your credibility if you wish to practice psychology privately and build your own clinic. Having a master’s degree is a strong credential that will gain you the trust of clients/patients who seek advice and counselling.
MA in Psychology vs. MS in Psychology
Master of Arts in Psychology and Master of Science in Psychology are pretty much the same. There is only a slight difference in terms of their curriculums.
Being an Arts degree, the MA in Psychology program focuses on humanities disciplines - the study of the human condition from a more analytical and applied point of view. Its curriculum has less science subjects and more arts subjects.
The MS in Psychology program on the otherhand gives more emphasis on the empirical sciences, and in some cases the social science where the human condition is studied from a more empirical point of view. It contains more science subjects than arts subjects.
The most common areas of specialization in the MA-PSYCH program are as follows:
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology – The Industrial-Organizational Psychology program provides students with theoretical and research foundation on human behavior in the work setting. Students acquire scientific knowledge on human processes and dynamics at the individual, group and organizational levels. They develop skills in organizational diagnosis, assessment, interventions planning, implementation and evaluation of human resource management technologies for application in various settings.
- Clinical Psychology – The program teaches students to engage in clinical research and to utilize effective psychological interventions. Their development as clinicians includes various areas of clinical practice, such as: conducting accurate clinical assessment and diagnosis and providing effective psychotherapy and other psychological interventions.
- Counseling Psychology – The Counseling Psychology program emphasizes the wholistic formation of competent counseling psychologists who can help individuals and groups in a variety of settings. In particular, the program prepares students to work in the areas of psychological assessment and diagnosis, counseling/psychotherapy, and research.
- Social & Community Psychology – The program trains students to understand social issues using interpersonal/ intergroup theories and research. Students learn to design and implement interventions in social systems, maximizing knowledge that is culturally embedded in local practices.
Subjects and Curriculum
The lessons in the MA-PSYCH program are taught to students through classroom lectures. In the second year of study, a student needs to choose a field of specialization and complete the intended number of hours for Practicum/Internship. Aside from being a requirement for graduation, the Practicum/Internship is also an important prerequisite to be able to take the Licensure Examination for Psychologists. Aside from lectures and practicums, students’ competencies are upgraded by exposing them to seminars and trainings.
The subjects in the MA in Psychology curriculum are divided into three main categories:
- Core/Foundation Courses:
Development of Psychological Thought, Experimental Design, Statistics in Behavioral Sciences, Advanced Psychometrics, Research Seminar.
- Major Courses (according to the Specialization):
- Clinical Psychology: Advanced Theories of Personality, Personality Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology: Advanced Social Psychology, Human Resource Development and Management, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling
- Counseling Psychology: Developmental Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling, Career Guidance, Psychology of Learning: Theory & Application
- Social and Community Psychology: Psychology of Social Change, Community Psychology, Psychology of Poverty, Human Resource Development, Cultural Psychology
- Electives (any two subjects, according to the Specialization):
- Clinical Psychology: Advanced Social Psychology, Human Resource Development and Management, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling, Developmental Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling, Career Guidance, Psychology of Learning: Theory & Application
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology: Advanced Theories of Personality, Personality Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, Developmental Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling, Career Guidance, Psychology of Learning: Theory & Application
- Counseling Psychology: Advanced Theories of Personality, Personality Assessment, Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, Advanced Social Psychology, Human Resource Development and Management, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Theories and Techniques in Counseling
- Social and Community Psychology: Advanced Social Psychology, Group Process, Organizational Psychology, Environmental Psychology, Political Psychology, Health Psychology
Students also need to complete the following requirements:
- Comprehensive Examination
A written comprehensive examination given during the last semester of study.
- Thesis (thesis program), or a Culminating Project (non-thesis program).
What are the admission requirements for MA in Psychology?
Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree holder of BS or AB in Psychology
However, an applicant with a different degree may still be admitted in the program, as long as he/she takes the prerequisite courses.
- Graduate School Entrance Exam: pass the entrance examination conducted by the college.
- Interview: pass the interview conducted by the college.
- Certificate of Employment: some schools require their applicants to submit a certificate of employment, in order to determine the length of an applicant’s work experience.
What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed as a Psychologist?
- Intra-personal skills – the personal capacity for self–reflection and assessment. You must be able to understand yourself in order to understand others.
- Interpersonal skills – in your master’s class you will less likely be working alone because professors love to group students to perform certain activities. You will encounter classmates who come from different age groups and background thus it’s important to be able to maintain good working relationships and adapt to different kinds of attitude.
- Analytical skills – the ability to understand the complexity of human behavior with the use of scientific method to analyze and measure the variations for certain actions.
- Patience – understands that significant periods of time can pass before substantial results can be seen.
- Good communicator – during your practicum/internship you must be an active listener who understands the uniqueness of every person and yet communicates in a patient manner in order to change the behavior of others; also, when you study masters the method of teaching is self-directed, there will be a lot of reporting and presentations so the ability to proficiently speak and write English and convey information is very important
- Reading comprehension – most of the time, you will be left alone in the library by your professors to read a lot of materials that you will have to understand on your own. Long chapter exams will also be part of your daily meeting therefore you must have the innate love for reading.
- Active Listener – while graduate school practices self-directed learning, there will also be times when your professors will give very long lectures for consecutive days, this is to emphasize the most important lessons which cannot be solely studied by students. It is important that you listen carefully and ask questions because your professors will not discuss lessons again.
- Organization – the ability to sort and arrange information in a systematic order, combine ideas and relay them to the students in a clear, concise, and logical manner.
How difficult is the MA in Psychology program?
MA in Psychology is not a difficult program. Generally, studying a master’s degree is easier than undergraduate studies because there are less requirements, and you already have previous learning experience and know how to handle requirements and exams.
Much like in the undergraduate Psychology programs, many students find this program fun and interesting. The lessons are not particularly difficult to understand and the workload involved when you study this program is not particularly heavy.
Although most subjects in the MA-PSYCH program are fairly easy, there are a few challenging parts to the program:
- The program requires a Practicum/Internship that corresponds to the field of specialization that a student chooses. The practicum is conducted during the weekends and though the number of hours is not high, it is still challenging because of time constraints.
- Another challenging part of the program is the final requirement, whether it’s the thesis or the culminating project.
- In addition, students also need to pass a written comprehensive examination at the end of the last year of study.
How long does it take to complete the MA-PSYCH program in the Philippines?
The MA-PSYCH program takes 2 years to complete. Many students who enroll in the MA-PSYCH program are already employed, so because of time restraints, the majority of graduates take more than two years to complete the degree.
A student of the MA-PSYCH program needs to undergo and complete a Practicum/Internship in line with the area of specialization that he or she chooses. The Practicum/Internship is important for two reasons; first, it is a requirement for graduation and second, it is a prerequisite to be able to take the Licensure Examination for Psychologists. As mandated by law, the required number of hours for the Internship is 200 hours.
Students are assigned in different units of an organization, company, institution, community, clinic or hospital by a practicum on-site supervisor. At the end of the practicum period, the student writes a Final Report detailing, among other things, the objectives of the program/project, the activities undertaken to meet the objectives, the student’s involvement in the program/project in his/her area of practice. (See source
Licensure Examination for Psychologists
Before one can take the Licensure Examination for Psychologists, a student must obtain a Master’s degree in Psychology and acquire a total of 200 hours of supervised practicum/internship/clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed psychologist or other licensed mental health professionals. The Licensure Exam for Psychologist is a 2 day exam held once a year. The examination is conducted by the Board of Psychology
under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission
(PRC). (See source
Career Opportunities for MA in Psychology graduates
The main purpose of a Master in Psychology degree is to gain a license to practice as a Psychologist legally in the Philippines. The following are career paths for Licensed Psychologists can work in:
- Psychology Instructor – responsible for preparing lesson plans and teaching students about the field of social science called psychology, or the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.
- Educational Psychologist – works with students for both counseling appointments and also to examine flaws in educational systems and determining appropriate guidelines for faculty–student relations.
- Clinical Psychologist – assesses diagnoses and treats patients suffering from various psychological disorders. Beyond psychoanalysis, the clinical psychologist is able to prescribe drugs for the treatment of mental illnesses.
- Industrial / Organizational Psychologist – increases workplace productivity by determining which employees are suitable for given job descriptions while overseeing and maintaining the welfare of the organization.
- Occupational Psychologist – apply psychological knowledge, theory and practice to the world of work. They aim to help an organization get the best performance from their employees and also to improve employees' job satisfaction.
- Forensic Psychologist – works with law enforcement agencies to examine crime scenes and determine motives for criminal behavior.
- Engineering Psychologist – examines the relations between humans and machines to determine ergonomic standards and suggest better technology for user capabilities.
- Rehabilitation Specialist – work with people whose disabilities make it difficult for them to engage in a full spectrum of activities.
- Sports Psychologist – focus on the psychological aspects of sports and athletics, including topics such as motivation, performance and injury.
- Behavior Analyst – assess individuals with behavioral problems, study changes the environment has on behavior or implement plans to fix bad behaviors.
- Behavior Specialist – a type of psychological counselor who helps those with disabilities or problems that impair learning or social functions. Behavior analysts can find employment in diverse workplaces, including schools, clinics, or government institutions.