Professional Programs for Psychology Students
Psychology grads are well-suited for a variety of professional programs.
Many psychology grads want to work in a "helping" field, but aren't keen on the research-focus of a clinical psychology PhD. But there are lots of ways that grads can work in a helping capacity: This page includes descriptions of programs in educational psychology, counselling psychology, social work, rehabilitation sciences, and even medical school.
Some Psychology graduates successfully pursue teaching degrees and enter the teaching profession; typically these students take courses in both educational psychology and developmental psychology which give them a handle on the psychology of teaching and learning, and human development. These courses typically serve to augment the skills student teachers are expected to learn in their teacher education/ teacher preparation program. Today, most teacher education programs in Canada are 1 to 2 years in duration and have classroom visits and teaching practica embedded within them. However, most teachers continue developing their teaching repertories far beyond their initial 1-2 year teacher education program and pursue professional development and graduate degrees (e.g., MEd) as they continue on in their teaching careers.
We've also had many Psychology grads enter the legal world; grads who enjoyed courses like Psychology & Law or Forensic Psych pair their knowledge of psychology with law school, and others go into policing and related fields.
Other psychology grads are keen to apply their skills in the business world; post-degree diplomas can be a great supplement to a BA in psychology to make our grads very marketable in the competitive private sector. Post-BA diploma programs can be a excellent segue from a psych degree into the private sector.
A bonus of these types of career fields is that graduates are highly "portable" -- that is, you may be able to work anywhere (vs. being limited to only certain cities).
This page provides some description of these fields and other excellent options for professional training.
Educational Psychology departments offer MA (Master of Arts) and PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) programs that are typically housed within a faculty of education rather than a faculty of psychology.
Like more traditional psychology graduate programs, these M.A. programs tend to be 2 years in duration and PhD programs are generally 4-6 years in duration. Educational Psychology programs serve to provide graduate students with in-depth training in different types of program areas such as human development, learning, and culture; school psychology/applied child psychology; measurement, evaluation, and research methods; learning sciences; and special education. Students who pursue graduate training in these types of programs may work as registered school psychologists within a school district, statisticians who work for government or in the private sector, and academics within universities. Some graduate students who enter training in Educational Psychology may also be classroom teachers and have returned to school to enhance their knowledge and training.
Like traditional Psychology grad programs, grades, experience working with different ages of children and adults, and outstanding references are critical for gaining access to these types of programs. We've had King's Honors Psychology grads successfully enter in graduate programs like this at Western, University of British Columbia (Vancouver), McGill University (Montreal), and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (aka OISE; pronounced "oy-zee") at the University of Toronto.
You can read about some of these Educational Psychology programs below:
- Western - Educational Psychology
- UBC - Educational Psychology
- McGill - Educational Psychology
- OISE at the University of Toronto
Counselling psychology is an M.Ed. program (Master's of Education) offered through faculties of education, not psychology departments. These programs are usually 2-years in length, and these programs train students to be counsellors, such as in schools, hospitals, government agencies, etc. Some schools also offer a doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in counselling psychology.
Grades, experience, and references are important in gaining admission to this type of program. We've had great success with King's grads in this program at Western. Some of the suggestions for gaining experience for clinical applicants may be useful for counselling applicants.
Counselling psychology programs are offered at several schools in Canada, including:
- University of Western Ontario -- at the Faculty of Education in London
- Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto
- McGill University in Montreal
- University of British Columbia in Vancouver
- University of Ottawa
Post-degree diplomas through Western Continuing Studies
Several recent grads have furthered their education by one-year post-degree diplomas with Western's Continuing Studies. These programs are career-focused and can be a terrific supplement to any psychology bachelor's degree, whether it's a Major, Double Major, or Honors.
Their programs include clinical trials management, human resources, management, public relations, and marketing; these are great career areas for psych grads!
Laurier offers a unique MA in Community Psychology program, which includes "a practicum (field work) placement in a community, organizational, and/or government setting."
We've had at least one recent grad head into this program.
Psychology grads holding a 4-year honors degree may be well-positioned for entry into Master's programs in social work. (Social work Master's programs do not always require a BSW for admission.)
Occupational therapy (OT)
Occupational therapists are medical professionals who work with people "to solve the problems that interfere with a person's ability to do things." Here is a detailed description of this career field. I've had many students go into OT and really enjoy the application of their psychology degree in this field, and the variety of their careers.
Speech-language pathologists assess and treat communication disorders. Here is a detailed description of this career field. I've had many students go into speech-language pathology and report back that they find this to be a very satisfying career, with lots of variety and specializations.
Audiologists are involved in assessing and treatment of people with (or at risk of) hearing impairments. Western has one of the world's most main centers for audiology; you can learn more about this field and graduate programs in audiology here.
Graduate programs in occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and audiology are offered at several schools, including Western, McMaster, and the University of Toronto in Ontario, as well as McGill (in Montreal) and UBC (in Vancouver).
Some programs for speech pathology, audiology, and OT do not require that applicants hold a BSc, but they may have certain course requirements for admission. You'll want to check with the individual schools to see what they require. The Ontario Council of University Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences has a complete listing of Ontario universities offering degrees in these fields. This site also has useful overviews of each of these career fields. I've had several students go into OT and speech-language pathology, appreciating how their degree in psychology serves as an excellent foundation for these programs. These careers can have a wonderful varied nature and are highly portable.
Master's of Applied Science (MASc)
- A number of schools offer specialized Master's degrees in psychology, often with degrees called Master's of Applied Science, and are intended as stand-alone (terminal) master's degrees (that is, students are not expected to complete a PhD).
- These programs are usually designed as 2-year Master's programs designed as practical programs to train students for specific career fields such as industrial/organizational psychology, health psychology, and community psychology. For example, check out the MASc program options at the University of Waterloo.
- Queen's University
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
- University of Western Ontario
- University of Windsor
- York University - Osgoode Hall
Application deadlines are usually around November 1 for admission in the following fall.
- Law schools often require that applicants take a standardized test called the LSAT.
- The Ontario law schools have a centralized applications system. This site has important information and deadlines/dates.
In addition to law school, many psych grads are well-suited to pursue a career in law enforcement.
The London Police Service has detailed information on careers available in policing in Ontario. (I've had many students from my Psych & Law class go into policing!)
We've also had at least one grad develop a career with Canadian Border Services.
Ontario has several medical schools: McMaster University, University of Ottawa, Queen's University, University of Toronto, and University of Western Ontario (and a new program at the Northern Ontario Medical School).
Admission to medical school in Ontario is centralized through the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) -- check the OMSAS site for information and important dates.
Each school has its own admissions requirements. Although medical schools typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from the sciences (or certain science courses in undergrad) some medical schools (e.g., McMaster) do not require applicants to hold a BSc, but instead, they often place heavy emphasis on academic excellence, references, and experience.
Applicants to medical school are usually required to take a standardized test called the MCAT.
- Ontario teachers' college application process -- the deadline for applications is usually early December in the year before a fall admission (e.g., apply in December 2017 for Fall 2018 entrance).
- Here's a list of all the faculties of education in Ontario, with links to each program.
- Remember that experience is important for applicants, such as volunteering in a classroom with the approximate age group you are interested in teaching.
Industrial relations (IR) or human relations (HR)
- Industrial and human relations are interesting fields for psych grads who enjoyed industrial/organizational psychology. The University of Toronto has a comprehensive listing of schools offering IR and HR degrees.
- Here is information about the MIR (Master's of Industrial Relations) degree offered at Queen's.
- Check the policy studies program at Queen's, for example.
I think that psychology grads can leverage their psych education quite nicely in the business world! I've had some students go on to complete an MBA (offered at many schools across Canada and the world). Some schools (like Windsor) even offer joint business and law degrees, for the the over-achievers.