Associate’s Degree in Psychology
An associate’s degree in psychology is a two-year degree can be pursued at community colleges or university and can be a good start for those interested in the field. Since the terminal degree in the field is the doctoral degree, most psychology jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but there are some jobs that require a two-year associate’s degree in psychology. The associate can also be a good stepping-stone into pursuing a higher degree later, such as a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, which offer many more options for graduates. In psychology, several types of associate degrees are offered: Associate’s of Science in Psychology, Associate’s of Arts in Psychology, and Associate’s of Arts in Applied Psychology.
Graduates of associate’s degrees in psychology who decide to enter the job market instead of pursuing a higher degree may look for jobs in supporting and administrative roles such as psychology technicians or aides or mental health associates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychology technicians and aides earn a median salary of $28,670 per year.1 Their job outlook is average, with about 5% growth expected between 2014 and 2024.1
Schools with associate programs typically require a high school diploma or a GED for entry. Most programs require a minimum GPA (varies by school), and you may have to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose to be admitted.
Core Concepts and Coursework
Associate in psychology degree programs provide a broad overview of the field of psychology, teaching students concepts such as applied psychology, theory and practice, quantitative and qualitative research, and historical trends in the field. Associate degrees usually include basic courses in a broad range of subjects, such as English, writing, science, and algebra. Around 60 credits are usually required to graduate with an associate degree in psychology. Courses will vary from institution to institution, but coursework may include:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Substance Abuse
- Introduction to Sociology
- Social Science Elective
- Psychopathology/Abnormal Psychology
- Experimental Research Methods in Psychology
- Sport Psychology
- Human Growth and Development
- Health Psychology
- Group Behavior
Traditional Associate of Psychology Programs
Several schools across the country offer psychology programs at the associate degree level. Below are a few popular or well-known psychology associate degree programs from around the country.
The Community College of Philadelphia offers a liberal arts 61-credit Associate of Arts (AA) degree in Psychology that provides a framework and a launching pad for students who want to eventually pursue a higher degree in psychology. In this program, students will learn the major concepts of psychology, applied research skills, an understanding of how different aspects of psychology work together, and career opportunities. To be admitted, students must take a series of placement tests and complete certain English and math courses. The 61 credit hour program includes courses such as Foundations of Statistical Methods for Social and Behavioral Sciences, Descriptive Research Methods in Psychology, Psychopathology/Abnormal Psychology, Experimental Research Methods in Psychology, and Developmental Psychology, as well as various electives.
Red Rocks Community College offers an Associate of Arts (AA) in Psychology that requires 60 credits to complete, 54 to 56 of which are major course requirements. Courses include Psychology of Gender, Social Psychology, Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Public Speaking, and more. Students who graduate from the program with at least a “C” average in every course will be guaranteed transfer to any public Colorado four-year college or university.
Lansing Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Psychology degree designed for students who wish to transfer to a four-year college or university and get a baccalaureate degree in the field. Successful graduates of the AA degree will be able to transfer to any four-year Michigan college or university under the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) and qualify for an LCC Transfer Studies Certificate of Achievement. A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required to transfer, and some schools require higher GPAs.
Online Associate of Psychology Programs
Some students may prefer the flexibility of an online associate’s degree in psychology. There are many programs across the country that offer degrees at the associate level either fully or partially online. Students who elect to get their degree online should be self-motivated and able to meet deadlines with little supervision. Students who prefer a more traditional face-to-face learning style may not do well in a fully online program, but hybrid associate degree programs (which are completed with a combination of online and on-campus work) may still be a good choice. To find out more about online psychology programs, read our Guide to Earning an Online Psychology Degree. Though it focuses on online bachelor’s degrees in psychology, you can still find relevant information that applies to getting your associate’s degree online.
Florida Tech offers a fully-online Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology degree that can be an excellent first step in a psychology educational path. With a liberal arts foundation, the associate degree takes two years to complete 20 classes, with eight weeks dedicated to each class. To be admitted, students must have a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts. Core coursework includes Psychology of Adjustment and Personal Growth, Substance Abuse, Lifespan Development & Psychology, Psychology of Women, Sport Psychology, Research and Computer Literacy, and Group Behavior.
Liberty University Online offers an Associate of Arts (AA) in Psychology degree that can be completed entirely online. The Liberty AA degree aims to give graduates an introduction to the field and start a career in the field. Many graduates go on to pursue a baccalaureate degree, which is also offered at Liberty. A total of 60 credits are required for the AA in Psychology degree, and students take core psychology courses; electives in communications, natural science, composition, information literacy; and other religion and theology courses.
Licensure in psychology at the clinical level requires an advanced degree and is not available to associate degree holders. Likewise, the American Psychology Association (APA) does not accredit schools at the associate level. Read more about how to become a psychologist on our Licensure page.
Jobs with an Associate’s Degree in Psychology
Most graduates of associate psychology programs go on to complete a baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degree in psychology. But some associate’s degree in psychology grads do enter the job market. They may enter careers such as:
- Administrative Assistant
- Assessment Counselor
- Crisis Intervention Counselor
- Family Advocate
- Family Development Specialist
- Mental Health Associate
- Police Officer
- Psychology Aide
- Psychology Associate
- Psychology Technician or Psych Tech
- Research Associate
- Social Work Assistant
- Staff Clinician
- Youth Counselor
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an associate’s degree in psychology?
Many graduates of associate degrees in psychology degree programs go on to pursue higher degrees, but others look for jobs in the field. To be a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, a graduate degree is required. However, there are some jobs at the associate level available. See the Jobs with a Psychology Associate Degree section for possible job titles with an associate degree.
How long does it take to get an associate’s degree in psychology?
Most associate’s degrees in psychology take two years to complete if done on a full-time basis.
Should I get an associate psychology degree online?
There are many options for getting an associate level psychology degree online. Look for a school that offers the same faculty for their online program as their on-campus program, one that is regionally accredited, and talk to other students about their experiences before choosing an online program.
How much can I make with an associate’s degree in psychology?
It completely depends on the job, so make sure you research the job title you are targeting to get an idea of the salary you can expect. As a reference point, according to the BLS, psychiatric technicians earn an average salary of $35,870 per year and psychiatric aides make an average salary of $28,770 per year.2,3 Read more about associate’s in psychology degree jobs and their salaries on our Careers page.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychiatric Technicians and Aides: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/psychiatric-technicians-and-aides.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016, Psychiatric Technicians: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292053.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016, Psychiatric Aides: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311013.htm