5 Different Specializations for People Pursuing a Psychology Ph.D.

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Updated April 24, 2021

Psychology Ph.D. Specializations

  • Sports Psychology
  • Child Development
  • Substance Abuse
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Between 2012 and 2013 it was estimated that 114,400 bachelor's degrees were given to students in psychology by the National Center for Education Statistics. While the popularity of studying psychology has increased in undergraduate education, there has been a slower rise in the graduate level. The American Psychological Association found that 24,462 master's degrees and only 6,494 doctorates were given in psychology in 2013. So one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd in this field is to pursue a Ph.D. In this short article we will look at five of the most popular specializations in psychology to help you pick the perfect major.

Resource: Top 25 Doctoral Programs in Psychology

Sports Psychology

Yes, you can combine your love of psychology with your passion for sports. Sports psychologists look into novel motivational strategies for coaches, and they discover how to keep athletes performing at their peak level of performance all year round. Also, for people with a general interest in health and well-being, this degree could be very valuable for breaking into fields related to exercise, nutrition, and diet.

Child Development

Infant/child development is the best option for psychology majors who want to get into education, language development, and even family counseling. Studying in this field can also help you understand the dynamics of how the family structure and culture helps or hinders a child's development. You will be able to implement strategies to help children reach their full potential at school and at home. People studying for these degrees will also be able to enter fields to help children with developmental disabilities and speech issues.

Substance Abuse

In today's stressful world, many people turn to substances as a coping method. You can be a part of the solution by studying substance abuse counseling for your Ph.D. program. Many programs are offered in strategies for social work, the psychology of addiction, and treatment options available in hospital settings. By studying in this field, you will be able to enter into rehab centers, hospitals, or counseling services to help addicts reclaim their lives.

Forensic Psychology

The field of forensic psychology has experienced increased popularity due to the "CSI effect." Rightly or wrongly, many people are curious about this job after watching TV shows that dramatize it. If you have a legal mind and are interested in gathering and analyzing evidence, looking for patterns of behavior, and working as a counselor with families and children in stressful situations, you may be a good fit for this degree program. However, you should know that this degree program is one of the most popular and you will face the most competition in this field.

Behavioral Neuroscience

This program is for the more scientifically inclined mind. Behavioral neuroscience only looks at the biology of the human brain. You will learn all about neurotransmitters, the parts of the brain, and even how memory works. Many people in this field will go off into laboratory settings. People in this field can also be important for looking into the science of different drugs such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to help people with those disorders.

These five specialization programs are for all different personalities. Some of these degrees lean more towards the social aspect of psychology, while others take a purely scientific approach. Depending on your own interests and personality, you should be able to find one of these degree programs that will keep you engaged during your own Ph.D. program.

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