Associate’s Degree in Psychology
An associate’s degree in psychology is a two-year degree that can be pursued at colleges or universities and can be a good start for those interested in the field. The associate can also be a good stepping-stone for pursuing a higher degree later, such as a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, which offer many more options for graduates. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), there are 323 non-profit institutions offering associate’s in psychology degrees in the US.1
Table of Contents
- Reasons to Pursue an Associate in Psychology Degree
- Program Options
- Core Concepts
- Select Program Profiles
- Jobs with an Associate Degree in Psychology
- Frequently Asked Questions
Reasons to Pursue an Associate in Psychology Degree
1. To get a job. Some students get an associate’s degree in psychology to begin employment in the field. Jobs requiring an associate’s degree include entry-level or administrative positions like psychiatric technician or aide, social services assistant, or mental health technician.
2. To explore the field of psychology. Another reason to pursue an associate’s in psychology degree is to explore the field. Immediately following high school, it can be difficult to know your desired career path. Getting a two-year degree in psychology provides a good introduction to the field for students who are not yet ready to commit to a higher degree. Associate’s degrees also tend to be a less expensive way to explore the field than other degree types, since they typically require 60 hours of study rather than 120 hours required for a bachelor’s degree, for example.
3. To prepare for a higher degree in the field. Graduates of associate degree programs may be able to transfer the majority of their credit hours to a bachelor’s program later on. For students who are not yet ready to commit to a four-year program, an associate’s degree can provide a solid foundation for further study.
Associate in Psychology Program Options
In psychology, several types of associate degrees are offered: Associate of Science (AS) in Psychology, Associate of Arts (AA) in Psychology, and Associate of Arts (AA) in Applied Psychology. Full-time, on-campus programs are most common at the associate level, though some online and hybrid programs do exist. Some students with an associate’s degree in another subject may qualify for advanced placement in some programs. Check with the school or program director for more information. 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 programs at the associate level. Read more about how to become a psychologist on our licensure page.
Online Degree Formats
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.
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. Most programs require students to complete some general coursework in science, writing, and math before formally applying to the psychology program.
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:
- Experimental Research Methods in Psychology
- Group Behavior
- Health Psychology
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- Psychopathology/Abnormal Psychology
- Social Science Elective
- Sport Psychology
- Substance Abuse
Select Associate of Psychology Programs
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 (LCC) offers an Associate of Arts (AA) 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.
Florida Tech Online offers a fully-online Associate of Arts (AA) 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.
Georgia Military College (GMC) offers both an Associate of Arts (AA) and an Associate of Science (AS) degree in psychology that can be completed entirely online. GMC’s psychology program is based on a liberal arts foundation and focuses on applying principles and concepts in psychology to real-world situations as well as applying the scientific method and using critical thinking to solve problems. Graduates should be well-versed in historical and modern concepts of psychology and be able to use APA format and the scientific method.
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 choose to start working in entry-level positions. 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.
How long does it take to get an associate’s degree in psychology?
Most associate’s degrees in psychology take two years to complete 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychiatric technicians and aides earn an average salary of $37,550 per year and psychiatric aides make an average salary of $32,590 per year.2,3 Read more about associate’s in psychology degree jobs and their salaries on our careers page.
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019 Psychiatric Technicians: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292053.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019 Psychiatric Aides: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311133.htm