Training in psychology can open up a wide variety of career options. The kinds of options available depend on many factors, including the student's interests and his/her willingness to acquire training beyond the undergraduate degree.
Students in this category aspire to careers as psychologists or in professions directly related to psychology. Normally such a career requires a graduate degree, although there are some types of psychology-related employment that can be achieved with a bachelor's degree.
The Psychology Department's MA program serves the needs of essentially two types of graduate students. Some students are seeking the master's degree as a terminal degree. These may be students who already are employed in Monroe County or nearby areas and are seeking additional credentials for job advancement, recent graduates from undergraduate programs who aspire to a position that requires a master's degree, or students with other similar goals. Other graduate students wish to use the master's degree as a stepping-stone into a doctoral program. Our graduate program has a very successful history of meeting all these needs.
With regard to doctoral study, many of our graduates are successful in gaining admission to doctoral programs in psychology following graduation with their MA degree in Psychology. The graduate programs listed below are among those that have accepted our graduates for their PhD, PsyD or EdD programs:
The program's curriculum is designed to provide courses and practicum experiences that are directed toward all these goals. The Department of Psychology is a member of both the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology and the Council of Applied Master's Programs in Psychology (CAMPP). SUNY Brockport's MA in Psychology program meets CAMPP standards of training, formulated at the 1990 National Conference on Applied Master's Training in Psychology. For those graduates seeking psychology-related employment, the MA program has a 100 percent success rate in placing its alumni.
Career skills and opportunities
The MA in Psychology program graduate can serve as a team player in multi-disciplinary settings, adding a behavioral perspective to client/patient growth and development. Examples of specialized clinical skills include:
Graduates integrate their skills into existing programs or new ones, working in a variety of clinical settings to help a broad range of clients/patients with:
Graduate students in our MA program learn a common "core" knowledge
base and set of skills in their required courses. Prior to completion of the
degree, students combine their developing clinical skills with their unique personal strengths through a carefully selected, individualized 600-clock-hour practicum at one of more than 40 agencies in Western New York.
Our students have a strong history of being hired for jobs by the agencies where they complete their practica. Graduates are employed in a wide array of public-sector human services settings, both in the Monroe County area and nationwide. Regionally, the most frequent employers of our MA graduates are developmental disability service offices (DDSOs), mental health agencies, and continuing and day treatment programs for the mentally ill.
Positions held by our MA-level graduates:
Behavior Specialist/Behavior Management Technician
Completes behavioral observations, monitoring and recording behavior of developmentally delayed clients in group home and residential treatment settings. Utilizes knowledge of applied behavior analytic principles to assess, manage, and improve behavior for independent living and vocational skills and socialization.
Serves in full capacity as a therapist and diagnostician for outpatient mental health concerns, under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Conducts group and individual therapy for depression, anxiety disorders and adjustment disorders. Performs psychological testing, including intellectual and personality assessment and court evaluations.
Conducts neuropsychological screenings and testing to assess brain function and recovery in brain-injured clients. Presents results at case staffings and works with neuropsychologists, therapists, and other clinical staff to integrate recovery and aftercare.
Health Project Coordinator
Administers structured psychiatric interviews for clinical research protocols; coordinates patient contacts for grant-funded clinical trials; and collects, analyzes and aids in interpretation of outcome data for psychological and psychiatric interventions.
Additionally, in many cases our graduates have utilized their master's degree to attain supervisory-level positions in area agencies, as team leaders, program supervisors, and project coordinators.
Local employers who have hired our graduates include the following
Our undergraduate curriculum provides all these things. In addition to courses in the traditional areas of specialization, the student interested in acquiring research experience may do so by enrolling in PSH 498 (Independent Study) and in this context work on one of several faculty research projects, assist in a graduate student research project, or in some cases conduct his/her own project. Honors students may complete an honors thesis in a similar context. The Psychology Department's curriculum is fairly unusual in that it provides several opportunities for practicum teaching experience for undergraduates. With graduate schools working their graduate students into teaching experience earlier and with more intensity than was the case in the past, applicants with this kind of experience as undergraduates have a competitive advantage. For undergraduates who wish to acquire experience in community or business settings, internship-like experiences can be provided via the Brockport Career Exploration Course (BCEC). Many undergraduate students also acquire practicum experience by doing volunteer work in community agencies. This does not provide academic credit, but the experience is extremely valuable.
Undergraduate students who wish to enter psychology-related employment with their bachelor's degree: There are a surprising number of opportunities for students with bachelor's degrees to find employment where they are engaged in activities directly related to their training in psychology. Graduates with only a bachelor's degree cannot, of course, become practicing psychologists. Such positions require various forms of licensing and/or certification, and such credentials almost invariably require graduate training. However, graduates with the BS or BA in psychology can serve as alcohol and/or drug abuse counselors, as counselors and trainers in agencies that work with children with psychological disorders or intellectual impairment, as counselors or assistants in a variety of community service agencies, etc. Students with such goals acquire a good general foundation in psychology as psychology majors, and can take a variety of elective courses to increase their skills. Examples include PSH 486 (Psychological Disorders of Children), PSH 483 (Behavior Modification), PSH 445 (Psychopharmacology), etc. They may also take related courses in other departments. For example, the Department of Health Science offers the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Studies Program (ASAP), which may be pursued with psychology as a minor or second major. The ASAP courses help fulfill requirements for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor examination.
Most undergraduate students who major in psychology, or take psychology courses while enrolled in another major, do not go on to become psychologists or to work in psychology related jobs. However, the psychology major offers an excellent choice for those students wishing to acquire a useful general liberal arts background. In many cases, this is what employers, law schools, medical schools, etc., are looking for. By taking psychology courses, by learning about human personality, motivation, thinking, perceiving, etc., students acquire an understanding of the human condition that is different from that of most other disciplines. It is this understanding that many employers find attractive, that they do not find among their engineering or their business school graduates. Furthermore, the department's emphasis on the rational-empirical approach to answering questions about behavior provides a discipline of thought and spirit of empirical inquiry that is important to many employers. Some students combine psychology (as a second major, a minor, or just by taking a few selected courses) with a business administration background to produce a package that is very attractive to employers.
The following are some examples of entry-level positions that have been obtained recently by psychology majors (adapted from www.psywww.com):
(A minor in business would be helpful)
Mental Health/Social Services Area:
(A minor in family and child studies, justice studies, health and aging studies, or sociology would be helpful)
(Various other minors may be helpful when combined with psychology in these fields)
Here are a few very useful websites that are full of information about jobs that require only a BA or BS in psychology, how to prepare for these jobs, and how to get them. Their presence here does not constitute any particular endorsement of them by SUNY Brockport or by the Psychology Department, but you might find them useful.