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Associate Degree in Psychology

If you’re considering pursuing an associate degree in psychology, congratulations on taking an important first step toward a career in psychology. Before you start researching schools, however, it is important to understand what, exactly, an associate degree is, what you can do with it, and what an associate degree program might entail.

In most cases, this kind of degree is a stepping stone to more advanced education; however, it can also be a path to entry-level work in the field. You might consider getting this degree if you want to get a feel for what a career in psychology might be like and what areas you are particularly interested in.

This page is filled with accurate and up-to-date information that will guide you in your exploration of the associate degree in psychology. It will explain:

  • What you can do with an associate degree
  • The different kinds of associate degrees
  • How long they take to complete
  • What you can expect to learn
  • How to choose the program that’s right for you

What Can I Do With an Associate Degree in Psychology?

An associate degree in psychology will not qualify you to work as a psychologist or a psychological counselor, but it could prepare you for entry-level positions in the workforce after graduation. Below are a few of the positions that may be open to you.

Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric technicians work alongside nurses and doctors in mental health facilities to provide services to patients. The life of a psychiatric technician involves frequent personal contact with patients. According to the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, they interact, observe, and treat patients “often more than any other staff.”

As a psychiatric technician, you’ll carry a heavy load for the diagnosing professional, carrying out doctors’ orders and reporting on patient’s symptoms or reactions to treatments. As an entry-level technician, sometimes called a psychiatric aide, you might help patients with daily activities or hygiene while assisting in recreational or therapeutic activities. In the similar position of psychiatric nurse, you will also focus on nursing activities such as monitoring vital signs.

Associate Psychology Student Volunteering For a Practice Psychology Session

Social and Human Services Assistant

As a social and human services assistant, you’ll help people with mental health issues or other challenges find the resources and support they need. You’ll guide them through the process of determining what kind of care they need and coordinate those services with the people or organizations that deliver them. Often you will follow up with clients to make sure they are receiving the help they need.

In this position, you will generally work under the direction of social workers, psychologists, or other community and social service workers. You have the opportunity to work with a wide range of people, including veterans, the homeless, the elderly, children, those struggling with addiction, and former prison inmates.

Correction Officer and Other Careers in Law Enforcement

An associate degree in psychology can be valuable in a career in law enforcement, although in almost all cases additional training will be required. Virtually all police departments require applicants to have a high school diploma and many now require an associate or even a bachelor’s degree.

While a criminal justice program is a more traditional path for a career in law enforcement, psychology—particularly as it pertains to subjects like addiction, criminology, or abuse—could be a pathway to becoming a corrections officer or doing police work.

If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree to become a criminal psychologist or forensic psychologist, working in the field before starting your degree program will be invaluable for you.

Associate Degree in Psychology Programs

Associate degree in psychology programs are a lot like any other pursuit in higher education. You’ll take courses that count toward the program’s required number of credits or hours. Some courses will be required and others will be electives. You’ll complete assigned reading, listen to lectures, participate in group projects, engage in discussions, complete assignments, and take tests. In many cases, you’ll be able to pursue your degree with a specialized concentration or area of interest.

Most psychology associate degree programs require you to complete 60 credits. Programs generally take two years to complete for full-time students who take a standard credit load per semester.

To enroll in a program, you’ll need to show transcripts or proof that you earned a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. Many schools have minimum GPA requirements of 2.0 or higher, although it’s often possible to work with admissions boards if your grades are insufficient. You might also be required to submit letters of recommendation, writing samples, or a letter of intent. Some programs may have minimum standardized test requirements, too.

Is There a Difference Between an A.A. and A.S. in Psychology?

There are two different types of associate degrees: Associate of Arts (A.A) and Associate of Science (A.S.). Although these degrees are similar, and often designated by a school according to the department they fall within, the focus between the two may be slightly different.

Both degrees take about two years to complete, have an emphasis on psychology, and qualify you to transfer into a full undergraduate program at a four-year school.

However, you will often find that an A.S. degree, as the name implies, focuses more on math and science, including biology, physics, and chemistry. A.A. degrees, on the other hand, may deal with fields associated with social science or liberal arts, such as philosophy, English, and history.

What Will I Learn in an Associate Degree Program?

First and foremost, you will learn about the field of psychology and its many subdivisions. Your program will also likely have a strong focus on general education studies and include coursework in communications, including English composition and public speaking, as well as humanities and life and physical sciences.

The core psychology courses you will take may include a focus on the following areas:

  • Personality types
  • Intelligence and cognition
  • Human development
  • Psychological disorders

A.S. programs might require or offer more electives in subject matter such as algebra, quantitative reasoning, and statistics, while A.A. programs might offer a wider variety of courses such as anthropology or minority studies.

You’ll also have a broad choice of elective courses such as principles of ethics, child psychology, addiction, health psychology, social psychology, human sexuality, and abnormal psychology.

Online Programs

Associate degrees in psychology are widely available online, so if you’re considering a distance learning program, you’ll have plenty of options. Some can be completed 100% online, meaning you’ll never have to visit a campus or participate in face-to-face learning. Other programs follow the hybrid format, which includes both online and in-person education.

There are plenty of reasons to consider pursuing a degree online. Online programs are often more affordable than comparable on-campus programs. In some cases, schools might offer in-state rates or other discounts to out-of-state students in an online program. Distance learners also avoid fees associated with campus life and, provided the program is accredited, can pursue the same financial aid as traditional students.

The most significant advantage, however, is flexibility. Online learners enjoy much greater control over their own schedules and can often work at their own pace.

However, you should not enter an online program thinking it’s easier or less demanding. Distance learning programs are just as rigorous as those taken on campus. They also require you to exercise strict self-discipline to succeed.

Choosing the Right Associate Degree Program

When you’re comparing programs that you think might interest you, consider the following:

  • Accreditation: This critical component ensures that your program has been vetted for quality and standards while also ensuring your diploma will be taken seriously by employers or transfer schools.
  • What’s next?: If you think you might want to move on to a bachelor’s program, you’ll want to speak with an academic advisor to make sure the credits you earn will transfer smoothly.
  • The school’s reach: The best schools and programs have relationships with employers and other schools that can serve as networking resources during and after you complete your degree.
  • Your school’s reputation: Accreditation ensures academic quality, but you should seek out reviews and other insights from both current and former students into the reputation of the school, program, and instructors.
  • The program’s format—online or on-campus: Online learning offers a range of unique benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Many schools allow prospective students to take sample courses or preview the technology used to deliver the coursework. If a school you’re considering offers these pre-enrollment trials, you should take advantage of them before committing.
  • Cost/financial aid: Much of your decision-making process will be governed by what you can afford. Consider not just the cost of tuition or individual credits, but all associated fees and the cost of materials and supplies.

Educational and Professional Advancement

Completing an associate degree is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, you might already be thinking ahead to what comes next—even if you decide to work for a period of time first. Generally speaking, the next step would be to get a bachelor’s. Then you might decide to move on to a postgraduate degree such as a master’s or doctorate.

Below are a few examples of the types of career paths you might take with each of these degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, or possibly less if you transfer credits from your associate degree. You would typically get this degree to prepare you for entry into a master’s program. However, having a bachelor’s can also qualify you for entry-level or related jobs in the field.

For example, you might use your degree to work in marketing, law enforcement, early education, or human services. For more information, see our Bachelor’s Degree page.

Master’s Degree

This graduate degree, which is not always required to enter a doctorate program, usually takes one to three years to complete and is open to people who hold a bachelor’s degree.

Following are some possible career opportunities:

  • Substance abuse counselor: Work with individuals, groups, and/or families to address and treat issues relating to addiction or substance abuse.
  • School counselor: Work with students, parents, and educators in addressing social or emotional problems while creating a safe learning environment.
  • Marriage or family counselor: Counsel families and/or couples who are dealing with psychological or emotional issues related to home and family dynamics.
  • Social worker: Help people who are suffering through difficult social, economic, family, and personal issues—like abuse, joblessness, housing issues, or addiction—and connect them with the services they need.

Doctorate Degree

With a doctorate degree you will earn the title of “psychologist.” There are generally two degree options: Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree and Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.) degree. Psy.D. degrees take four to six years to complete and are generally targeted for a career in clinical psychology. Ph.D. programs take five to eight years to complete and focus more on research or academia.

Following are some career paths you might take:

  • Criminal Psychologist: Work with law enforcement to profile criminals or potential criminals, provide expert testimony, study criminality, and the psychological drivers of crime.
  • Industrial-organizational psychologist: This type of practice takes place in work settings, where you’ll study group behavior and work to mitigate conflict with individuals and groups at work.
  • Educational psychologist: You’ll work mostly with children or young adults who have learning disabilities, emotional issues, and physical disabilities.
  • Teacher: A doctoral degree qualifies you to teach and even chair departments at the university level.
  • Experimental psychologist: You will conduct research about any number of topics in psychology.
Additional Psychology Schools
Adrian College (Adrian, MI)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Allan Hancock College (Santa Maria, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Allen County Community College (Iola, KS)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Addictions & Prevention Studies - Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Addictions & Prevention Studies - Counseling
Alpena Community College (Alpena, MI)
  • Associate in Arts Psychology
Alvin Community College (Alvin, TX)
  • Associate of Applied Science - Mental Health/Addiction Counseling
  • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services - Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in General Liberal Arts - Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Amarillo College (Amarillo, TX)
  • Associate of Applied Science - Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
American River College (Sacramento, CA)
  • Associate of Art in Psychology
Andrew College (Cuthbert, GA)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Angelina College (Lufkin, TX)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Austin Community College District (Austin, TX)
  • Associate of Applied Science - Addictions Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Bakersfield College (Bakersfield, CA)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Barton County Community College (Great Bend, KS)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Blackfeet Community College (Browning, MT)
  • Associate in Arts in Human Services - Chemical Dependency Counseling
  • Associate in Arts in Human Services - Counseling
  • Associate in Arts in Human Services - Psychology
Blinn College (Brenham, TX)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Bucks County Community College (Newtown, PA)
  • Associate of Liberal Arts - Psychology Interpersonal
  • Associate of Liberal Arts - Psychology Pre-Professional
Bunker Hill Community College (Boston, MA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Butler Community College (El Dorado, KS)
  • Associate of Arts - Psychology
  • Associate of Science - Addictions Counseling
  • Associate of Science - Psychology
Butler County Community College (Butler, PA)
  • Associate of Arts - Psychology
Cabrillo College (Aptos, CA)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Canada College (Redwood City, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies - Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Cazenovia College (Cazenovia, NY)
  • Associate of Arts - Counseling and Mental Health
  • Associate of Science - Counseling and Mental Health
Central Wyoming College (Riverton, WY)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Cerritos College (Norwalk, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Chaffey College (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Chandler/Gilbert Community College (Chandler, AZ)
  • Associate in Transfer Partnership in Psychology
Chestnut Hill College (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Cisco College (Cisco, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Teaching in in Psychology
Clarendon College (Clarendon, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Clarion University (Clarion, PA)
  • Associate of Science - Rehabilitative Services
Cochise College (Douglas, AZ)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Coconino Community College (Flagstaff, AZ)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Utah State University Eastern (Price, UT)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
College of Marin (Kentfield, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls, ID)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, CA)
  • Associate in Arts - Psychology
College of the Desert (Palm Desert, CA)
  • Associate in Arts - Psychology
College of the Siskiyous (Weed, CA)
  • Associate of Arts of Psychology
Connors State College (Warner, OK)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Contra Costa College (San Pablo, CA)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Crafton Hills College (Yucaipa, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Crowder College (Neosho, MO)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, CA)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Cypress College (Cypress, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Dean College (Franklin, MA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Drury University (Springfield, MO)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher, AZ)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Eastern Oklahoma State College (Wilburton, OK)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology - Sociology
Eastern Wyoming College (Torrington, WY)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
El Camino Community College (Torrance, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
El Paso Community College (El Paso, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Evergreen Valley College (San Jose, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Felician College (Lodi, NJ)
  • Associate in Liberal Arts - Psychology
Fisher College (Boston, MA)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Folsom Lake College (Folsom, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Foothill College (Los Altos Hills, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Fort Belknap College (Harlem, MT)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Fort Peck Community College (Poplar, MT)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Fullerton College (Fullerton, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Northern Wyoming Community College District (Sheridan, WY)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Glendale Community College (Glendale, AZ)
  • Associate in Transfer Partnership in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Gogebic Community College (Ironwood, MI)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Great Lakes Christian College (Lansing, MI)
  • Associate of Arts in Counseling Ministry
Harcum College (Bryn Mawr, PA)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies - Psychology
Hartnell College (Salinas, CA)
  • Associate in Arts in Counseling
Heritage University (Toppenish, WA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Highline Community College (Des Moines, WA)
  • Associate of Arts (AA) in Psychology
Holmes Community College (Goodman, MS)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson, KS)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Imperial Valley College (Imperial, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Indiana University-South Bend (South Bend, IN)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Irvine Valley College (Irvine, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Itasca Community College (Grand Rapids, MN)
  • Associate in Science in Applied Psychology/Human Services
Kilgore College (Kilgore, TX)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Kilian Community College (Sioux Falls, SD)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Chemical Dependency Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapid, IA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Lansing Community College (Lansing, MI)
  • Associate in Arts in Psychology
Las Positas College (Livermore, CA)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Lehigh Carbon Community College (Schnecksville, PA)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston, ID)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
Life University (Marietta, GA)
  • Associate of Science in Coaching Psychology
  • Associates in Coaching Psychology
Los Angeles Valley College (Valley Glen, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology - Development
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology - General
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology - Personality & Social
Los Medanos College (Pittsburg, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Manor College (Jenkintown, PA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Mendocino College (Ukiah, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Merced College (Merced, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Mesa Community College (Mesa, AZ)
  • Associate of Advancing Academic Achievement
  • Associate of Chemical Dependency
  • Associate of Counseling
  • Associate of Counseling & Personal Development
  • Associate of Psychology
Mid-America Christian University (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
Mid Michigan Community College (Harrison, MI)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Midland College (Midland, TX)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling.
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
MiraCosta College (Oceanside, CA)
  • Associate of Arst in Psychology
  • Associate of Arst in Psychology - Human Development
Mission College (Santa Clara, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Mitchell College (New London, CT)
  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies - Psychology
Mohave Community College (Kingman, AZ)
  • Associate of Arts in Social & Behavioral Science
Montana State University-Billings (Billings, MT)
  • Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Rehabilitation and Related Services
Moorpark College (Moorpark, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science - Psychology
Murray State College (Tishomingo, OK)
  • Associate of Science in Behavioral Science - Psychology
Napa Valley College (Napa, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Naugatuck Valley Community College (Waterbury, CT)
  • Associate in Behavioral Sciences - Psychology
Neosho County Community College (Chanute, KS)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
New Mexico Junior College (Hobbs, NM)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
New York University (New York, NY)
  • Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis - Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
North Idaho College (Coeur d'Alene, ID)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Northeast Community College (Norfolk, NE)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (Miami, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Northern Michigan University (Marquette, MI)
  • Associate of Applied Science - Applied Child Development
Northwest College (Powell, WY)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Odessa College (Odessa, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Ohio State University-Lima Campus (Lima, OH)
  • Associate of Arts in General Studies - Psychology
University of Holy Cross (New Orleans, LA)
  • Associate of Science in Addictions Counseling
  • Associate of Science in Juvenile Counseling
Owens Community College (Perrysburg, OH)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Palo Alto College (San Antonio, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Palomar College (San Marcos, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychological and Social Services
Paris Junior College (Paris, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
Phoenix College (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Prince George's Community College (Largo, MD)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Reading Area Community College (Reading, PA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Redlands Community College (El Reno, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Rogers State University (Claremore, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Social Science - Psychology
Rose State College (Midwest City, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Sacramento City College (Sacramento, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Salish Kootenai College (Pablo, MT)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
San Antonio College (San Antonio, TX)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services - Counseling Psychology
  • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services - Drug/Alcohol Abuse Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
San Diego City College (San Diego, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences - Psychology
San Diego Mesa College (San Diego, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences - Psychology
San Diego Miramar College (San Diego, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences - Psychology
San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
San Jose City College (San Jose, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Santa Ana College (Santa Ana, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Santa Barbara City College (Santa Barbara, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Santa Fe Community College (Santa Fe, NM)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Santa Rosa Junior College (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Santiago Canyon College (Orange, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Seminole State College (Seminole, OK)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences
Shasta College (Redding, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Sciences
Siena Heights University (Adrian, MI)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Sierra College (Rocklin, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Associate of Science in Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Social & Behavioral Sciences
Sinclair Community College (Dayton, OH)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Mental Health Technology
Skyline College (San Bruno, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
South Plains College (Levelland, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
  • Associate of Science in Applied Rehabilitation Psychology
Southern University at New Orleans (New Orleans, LA)
  • Associate of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling
Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Temple College (Temple, TX)
  • Associate of Psychology
Thomas More College (Crestview Hills, KY)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College (Blue Ash, OH)
  • Associate of Arts in Pre-Vocational Rehabilitation Services
University of Great Falls (Great Falls, MT)
  • Associate of Science in Addictions Counseling
University of Puerto Rico-Ponce (Ponce, PR)
  • Associate in Arts - Psychology
University of Rio Grande (Rio Grande, OH)
  • Associate in Arts - Psychology
Utah Valley University (Orem, UT)
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science
  • Associate of Arts in Behavioral Science - Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Behavioral Science
  • Associate of Science in Behavioral Science - Psychology
Walters State Community College (Morristown, TN)
  • Associate of Science Degree in Psychology
West Los Angeles College (Culver City, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
West Valley College (Saratoga, CA)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Western Texas College (Snyder, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology
Wharton County Junior College (Wharton, TX)
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology