Associate in Psychology Program Guide

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Published on September 18, 2020 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The field of psychology examines how thoughts and emotions influence individual and group behavior. It encompasses several schools of thought, with social, behavioral, and cognitive psychology being three of the most common specialties.

This diverse field is an excellent option of study for students who want to better understand individual and group behavior. Most psychology careers require an advanced degree, but an associate degree in psychology opens the door to some interesting occupations and gives students a step up in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% job growth for social and human service assistants, a career for which associate degree holders are qualified.

Should I Get an Associate Degree in Psychology?

Earning an associate degree in psychology provides an introduction to the field and the skills to pursue an advanced degree. On-campus associate degrees typically appeal to recent high school graduates and allow students to work side-by-side with professionals and peers. Working professionals or those with family obligations may prefer the flexibility of an online program. Online programs are often self-paced, so students can arrange their coursework around their other responsibilities.

Psychology associate degrees introduce students to psychological theories and practices behind individual and group interactions. Psychology students develop skills in critical thinking, communication, and research methods. The combination of skills makes students competitive candidates for careers in psychology, social services, and business.

While earning an associate in psychology, students benefit from valuable networking opportunities and hands-on experience that may lead to future employment. Universities also provide job placement assistance and career resources. An associate degree in psychology demonstrates commitment and dedication to a career in psychology.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Psychology?

An associate degree in psychology combines liberal arts studies and psychological theory to open a variety of career paths. Graduates pursue careers in social services, management, and customer service. The degree is transferable to diverse bachelor's programs, making it a strong choice for advanced study.

Care Provider

Care providers offer support for the aging population and people with disabilities and illnesses. They provide assistance with activities of daily living, such as cooking and cleaning. Associate degree holders are qualified for this position and may work in hospital or hospice settings.

Median Annual Salary: $20,267*

Administrative Assistant

Assistants work in many settings to provide administrative support, such as secretarial services, errand running, and customer support. It is a diverse role that requires critical-thinking and interpersonal skills. Psychology associate graduates may work as assistants in private practices or other clinical settings.

Median Annual Salary: $38,756*

Customer Service Representative

Representatives generally work in call centers, fielding calls from customers. Experience with technology helps workers excel in these roles. It is a fast-paced setting, and psychology students benefit from the communication skills earned in their associate program.

Median Annual Salary: $36,535*

Retail Assistant Manager

Retail assistant managers oversee staff and work with customers. They are often responsible for completing paperwork and ensuring policies and procedures are followed. An associate is typically required for management positions.

Median Annual Salary: $41,170*

Source: PayScale

How to Choose an Associate Program in Psychology

Prospective students can narrow their associate in psychology programs down by weighing factors such as cost, location, and time to completion. The cost of an associate psychology degree varies by program and institution. In-state public schools typically charge the lowest tuition relative to out-of-state and private schools. Whether a student studies online or on campus also affects costs. For example, online students avoid housing and commuting costs, but they may need to pay an additional technology fee per class.

Location is another important consideration. On-campus students should research the cost of living at their chosen school as well as potential job opportunities. For students who cannot relocate for school and those with work and family obligations, the accessibility of an online program is ideal. Students should research the top online associate psychology programs to find the best fit.

Prospective students should also research the time it takes to complete a program. While it typically takes two years of full-time study to earn an associate psychology degree, time to completion varies by school and format. For instance, students eager to graduate may enroll in an accelerated program that allows them to earn their degree in less than two years. On the other hand, students with busy schedules may prefer a part-time track, which can add years to a degree.

Associate in Psychology Program Admissions

Schools typically require an application and a minimum GPA and/or satisfactory test scores for admission. More competitive programs may require an essay, a portfolio of work, or a resume with volunteer and professional experience. The application process for online students may be more extensive than it is for on-campus students, as some schools require online applicants to demonstrate their ability to succeed in a self-directed program.

Students should apply to at least three schools to increase their chances of admission: a safety school, a target school, and a reach school.

Admission Materials

Students submit an online application detailing their educational and professional background. A personal statement may also be required. Students must submit transcripts from all prior learning. Most schools charge a fee to release transcripts. Typical application fees range from $35-$60. Some schools may waive this fee for students with demonstrable financial need.

Educational Paths for Psychology Associate Programs

A psychology associate degree prepares students seeking further education to transfer to bachelor's programs in psychology, business, or political studies. Bachelor's in psychology programs often accept all transfer credits from an accredited associate degree. A bachelor's degree leads to higher earning potential; for example, a social and community services manager, for which a bachelor's is required, earns a median pay of $64,100.


Bachelor's in psychology students pursue specializations in the field. Curricula frequently include in-depth study of psychological theory and practice, as well as an internship or practicum. Students gain skills in analysis, research, and communication, leading to career opportunities in management and direct services.


The communication and critical-thinking skills gained in a psychology associate degree translate well to a bachelor's in business. A degree in business prepares students to work as administrators and entrepreneurs.

Political Studies

Politics are influenced by human thoughts and behavior. Combining a psychology degree with a bachelor's in political study leads to in-depth understanding of the political process and prepares students for careers in social services and policy management.

What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Psychology?

Cost, curricula, and time to completion vary by program. This section covers what to look for with respect to those factors when researching potential schools.

Courses in an Associate Program in Psychology

Programs offer a wide range of elective courses depending on the institution, but core coursework in an associate in psychology program typically includes general psychology, statistics, and research methods. Below is a sampling of courses commonly found in associate psychology programs.

Child Psychology

Students study the psychological and social development of children. Topics may include learning disabilities and problematic behavior. Graduates are prepared to work as childcare aides, teacher assistants, and early childhood educators.

Social Psychology

Students study how individuals relate to social institutions. Coursework explores interpersonal relationships and how relationships form society. Students examine the development of beliefs and attitudes and how they influence ideology. The course prepares students for careers in social services and politics.

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology is the study of mental illness. Students are introduced to theories of mental illness and the history of treating mental disorders. Students review the classification and diagnosis of disorders in the Diagnostic Services Manual. The course is the first step toward a career as a clinical psychologist.

Psychology of Aging

This course explores the psychological aspects of aging, such as learning, cognition, and perception. Students also study the social aspects of interpersonal relationships and environment. Graduates are prepared to work as assistants in eldercare and hospice facilities.


Coursework introduces students to individual and group counseling. Students explore theoretical approaches to counseling and develop counseling skills through practical exercises. Graduates may gain employment as peer counselors or assistants.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Psychology?

A psychology associate degree typically requires 60 credits and takes two years of full-time study to complete. However, time to completion varies by program and track. Motivated students may pursue an accelerated program allowing them to graduate faster. Students with work and family obligations may prefer a part-time track, which can add years to the degree.

How Much Is an Associate in Psychology?

Students can expect to pay between $20,000 and $50,000 for a two-year associate in psychology, but several factors impact the overall cost. Public universities are subsidized by the state government, so they typically offer lower tuition for in-state students than private schools. However, non-resident tuition may cost twice as much as in-state tuition and is often comparable to private school tuition rates. Students can apply for financial aid to offset tuition costs, such as scholarships and grants.

Students should also consider additional costs beyond tuition, such as housing, commuting, and book expenses. Online students avoid housing and commuting costs, but they may need to pay an additional technology fee per class.

Professional Organizations in Psychology

Professional organizations are valuable resources for students and graduates, offering networking opportunities, continuing education resources, and up-to-date news and information in the field. Many organizations also provide job boards and assist students with career planning.

APA is a respected organization leading the psychology field through research, publications, conferences, and awards. Membership is open to researchers, teachers, clinicians, and students. CABAI was founded in 1974 to support and develop behavior analysis. It offers several conferences, a journal, and a membership publication. It also provides job placement services. SPSP has over 7,500 members. The organization advances the field of psychology through educational conferences and networking. It offers funding and mentorship opportunities for students.
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