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Social Psychology Degree

Social psychology can be described as the study of individuals and the social environment. This discipline has enabled us to better understand social perceptions and how interactions with other groups play an important role in our lives. Social psychology is closely related to personality psychology, sociology, and organizational psychology. The history of social psychology dates back to the early 20th century when William McDougall published the first notable book on the field, “An Introduction to Social Psychology”.

In recent years, social psychology has emerged as a recognized academic discipline and is gaining attention on a larger scale. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) is a renowned organization that works towards promoting achievement and careers in this field. Many individuals are seeking careers as social psychologists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for psychologists is expected to grow by 12% from 2012-2022.

Social Psychology Education

Social psychology is being offered as an academic discipline and major by a number of prestigious schools. Social psychology degree programs are designed to prepare students for careers as social psychologists and other related occupations.
Students can opt for graduate and PhD programs in social psychology. It is also possible to pursue social psychology online. Online learning is fast becoming popular as it has proved to be more flexible, affordable, and convenient. A social psychology course is offered by many accredited online schools.


Masters Degree in Social Psychology

This is a graduate level program that aims at providing students with a thorough understanding of social psychological perspectives. The program emphasizes on various social psychological theories within a social context. Students will acquire in-depth knowledge of fundamental concepts and build a strong foundation of scientific principles relevant to the field. Students will learn how to identify social issues, utilize social psychological knowledge, apply research techniques for social data collection, and design and implement plans for improving social welfare.
The coursework of the program typically includes a series of courses and subjects that are covered in classrooms. Before moving onto research-oriented topics, students must gain familiarity with the theoretical areas. Alongside classroom learning, students may also be required to complete assignments, presentations, and conduct field work.



The curriculum of social psychology masters programs may vary a little from college to college. However, students are most likely to come across important courses such as the following:


  • Introduction to community and social psychology
  • Advanced community dynamics
  • Applied research methods
  • Applied developmental psychology
  • Workplace diversity
  • Family systems

Degree Requirements

To successfully earn social psychology masters programs, students must complete all the requirements of the curriculum. A minimum number of credit hours must be completed to qualify for the degree. Each course, assignment, or project is equivalent to a number of credit hours that typically range between 2 to 4. Degree requirements may vary from college to college.


How to Enroll in a Master’s Degree in Social Psychology

  • Fill out and submit the admission application
  • Submit the official transcript of a bachelor’s degree
  • Meet a minimum CGPA requirement
  • Submit letters of recommendation

The exact admission criteria will depend upon the college. Some schools may require applicants to sit for an admission test.

How Long Does it Take to Complete a Masters in Social Psychology?

It typically takes two years. However, students by enrolling in an accelerated program may complete the degree in a shorter period of time.  Part-time masters programs may take more than two years to complete.


PhD in Social Psychology

This is the highest level of qualification one can earn in the field of social psychology. A PhD in social psychology is a post-graduate program that prepares students for careers in teaching and research. PhD programs in this field focus upon academic excellence and professional research. Students will not only develop a strong base of general psychology, but will also develop sound research skills. The degree typically includes:


  • Coursework

The initial phase of the program consists of classroom-based courses that are theoretical in nature. Students will cover basic fundamental concepts and disciplines of social psychology. Some of the subjects covered are:

  • Research methods
  • Applied social psychology
  • Statistics
  • Social psychology theory

Each course will highlight various facets of the field.

  • Research Project

Students are required to complete a project proposal and research on a selected topic. The research project will enable students to identify and implement research methodologies. They may also be required to orally present their research to a faculty committee.

  • Doctoral Dissertation

A dissertation is the culmination of a student’s research and training. Students must write and complete a dissertation on their research project that clearly evaluates the research purpose, methods, and findings. This is an important part of the degree and is supervised by assigned faculty members. Please remember that the guidelines for writing dissertations will vary from school to school.

How to Enroll in a PhD Degree in Social Psychology

The admission requirements usually include:


  • Submission of a master’s degree transcript and research project
  • Submission of letters of recommendation
  • Meet a minimum CGPA requirement

How Long Does it Take to Complete a PHD in Social Psychology?

It usually takes 4-8 years to complete a PhD in social psychology. The exact duration is likely to vary from college to college, and will also depend upon the student’s pace and research project.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn how to use theory and research
  • Students will gain an in-depth understanding of social psychology and its development
  • Learn how to apply social psychology principles
  • Understand the role of social psychologists
  • Understand the use of social psychology in diverse social contexts
  • Develop strong communication and analytical skills

Career Opportunities

With a degree in social psychology, individuals can work as researchers, university professors, consultants, strategists, and even managers. The career prospects are dynamic and challenging. Those pursuing roles as social psychologists can seek employment in various government institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private firms.
The income level is likely to vary from place to place and will also depend upon factors such as qualification, skill, specialization, and employer organization. According to the American Psychological Association, BLS stated the annual salary of social psychologists to be approximately $85,830 in 2011.
Social psychology is a growing field and reflects a positive employment outlook. As the world becomes more culturally diversified, the need for social psychologists will remain.  This field is suitable for individuals who enjoy working with others and want to help change the community for the better.


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Can you be a social worker with a psychology degree?

A:Although it is not impossible to become a social worker with a qualification in psychology, it is still recommended you pursue a more relevant career. A social work degree can prepare you for a career as a social worker in different welfare institutions and agencies. On the other hand, with a degree in psychology, you can prepare for practice, counseling, etc.

Q:What is the difference between psychology and sociology?

A:There are noted similarities between psychology and sociology in terms of how they are both scientific studies of people and both help people understand the dynamics of emotions and various behaviors. However, there are several major differences between the two disciplines. The primary difference is that psychology is the study of the mind of an individual or a small group in a large society. Sociology, on the other hand, sociology looks beyond the individual level and examines societies as a whole, determining how societal behavior depends on specific social relations.

Q:What is a social psychologist?

A:A social psychologist conducts research that may be applied to deal with a number of real world problems such as helping advertisers and marketers in figuring out how to use group influence to get more individuals to buy certain brands. A social psychologist can also apply his knowledge to help put a stop to, or lessen the spread of certain social problems. In addition to that, these individuals might work closely with individuals who have been affected by social problems, and help them get better.

Q:Can you name a few careers in social psychology?

A:You can choose from a range of careers with a degree in social psychology. Some areas of work include: research, teaching, consultancy, social work, etc. You can also work as a social psychologist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists made a median annual income of $69,280 in 2012. Please remember that your level of degree, certification, and specialization will determine what careers you are eligible for. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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