Options in Research & Teaching


Psychologists are individuals who have earned a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy degree) in Psychology. In order to be considered a professional, licensed Psychologist, you must complete a Ph.D. program in Clinical, Counseling or School Psychology and pass the national licensure exam for Psychologists. Licensed Psychologists are typically involved in direct client service (Psychotherapy), but many are employed by universities or colleges to conduct research and/or teach topics related to direct client service in their area of specialty.

Individuals that earn Ph.D. degrees in other areas of Psychology are also called Psychologists. However, they are not eligible for licensure or trained for careers in direct client service. Universities or colleges usually employ this type of Psychologist to conduct research and/or teach topics related to their area of specialty. There are opportunities to conduct research at major universities, however, securing one of these positions is a highly competitive process. Those more interested in teaching (especially to smaller classes) may want to focus on positions at a community college. Psychologists with all specialties may also be employed by privately funded and government funded research agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) or the National Institute of Aging (NIA). Focus areas may include Cognitive, Social, Industrial and Organizational, Developmental, Neuropsychology, Environmental, and Evolutionary among others.

Other Options:

Community College Positions

While most people interested in a career in research and/or teaching will pursue a Ph.D. degree, this is not the only alternative. With a master’s degree in Psychology one can secure a position teaching at a community college. (Keep in mind that some community colleges are seeking those with a Ph.D. for their tenure track positions.)

Research Technician/Lab Coordinator

Most Psychologists who conduct research at a university need reliable help in coordinating their projects, running experiments, analyzing data and writing articles for publication in scholarly journals. Those with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in Psychology can seek employment in this capacity. A career in research at this level requires experience in various facets of research. Many of these research techniques can be learned during one’s undergraduate years.

Many research projects seek individuals who have training and experience in the administration of psychological assessments such as measures of intelligence, aptitude, personality traits or memory.

High School Teaching

In order to teach Psychology in a high school, you will need to be certified by the state in which you want to teach. Usually this means that you will either have to have a degree in secondary education or a post-bachelor’s certification to teach which includes a semester of student teaching among other requirements. Many school districts will not hire someone to teach only Psychology, so you will need to have another area in which you are qualified to teach (English, Science, etc).