- Mental health has been a major topic of interest over the past decade or so, with more people than ever seeking to heal from trauma, substance abuse, and other emotional struggles. Kentucky legislators and policymakers have realized how important mental health is for a well-adjusted population, and they’re taking action by implementing a state-wide mental health first aid training bill.
As a career, psychology has the potential to change lives and make society a better place, as well as having a good baseline salary, making it an attractive prospect for motivated, intelligent, and perceptive individuals. What’s more, an increased interest in seeking therapy and dissolution of the stigma that used to hold people back from seeking treatment for mental health means the sector is set to experience significant growth in the coming years.
It’s practically impossible to enter a career in psychology in Kentucky or nationally without a college degree. In this article, we’ll explore the various options for degrees and colleges in Kentucky in detail to help you find the most suitable path into the career of your dreams.
Pros and cons of getting your psychology degree in Kentucky
In Kentucky, there are nine public universities as well as a number of private colleges, independent schools and community colleges to choose from. Data from Kentucky’s Commission on Postsecondary Education shows that there were 216,000 undergraduates enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in 2018, and a further 46,000 enrolled in a master’s degree program. Read on to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a psych lost in Kentucky.
How to become a licensed psychologist in Kentucky
When you start a psychology degree program, you’ll need to choose a specialization, such as experimental psychology, rehabilitation, behavior analysis and clinical psychology. The American Psychological Association is the most prominent organizations that represent psychologists in the United States, and it goes into detail about all 54 subdivisions on its website.
A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, after which you can go on to choose between obtaining a Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D. from an accredited institution, which usually takes two years, but can be quicker. It’s also necessary to demonstrate that you’ve taken part in a minimum of 1,800 hours of supervised post-doctoral clinical practice.
Next, there’s a national board exam which consists of 225 multiple choice questions and an oral exam. Finally, you’ll pay a fee and declare your specialization to the Board of Examiners of Psychology, choosing from industrial-organizational psychology, counseling, clinical psychology, and school psychology.
You can complete your degree program while attending school full-time or opt for distance learning and earn your qualification online.
Other certifications and licenses
If you’re interested in psychology but want to specialize in a career outside of becoming a licensed psychologist, there are alternative options. You can choose from the following:
- Licensed professional clinical counselor
- Licensed clinical social worker
- Marriage and family therapist
Advantages of degree programs in Kentucky
While postsecondary education is never cheap, The College Board states that tuition in Kentucky is more affordable than South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Alabama. With the state coming in 18th in average cost of living, it’s a good choice for individuals who are looking to be more financially conservative.
The University of Kentucky has made it into the top 100 schools in the U.S. for psychology, coming in at 75 out of 245 institutions. It achieves 3.2 points on U.S. News & World Report, which is just 1.6 lower than the top performing university for psychology, Stanford.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, Kentucky boasts a low crime rate, stunning scenery and plenty of work opportunities. Plus, the unemployment rate is 5.2%, which is about average. As such, provided students work hard and complete the process of getting qualified and licensed, they can have a fulfilling, lucrative career as a psychologist in Kentucky.
Kentucky has plenty of options for students looking to get into the field of psychology. There are 26 non-profit colleges that offer psychology as a specialization, including two schools that provide associate degree level, 25 that offer bachelor’s degrees and 14 offering advanced degrees or master’s.
Drawbacks of a Kentucky University Degree in psychology
Although Kentucky is more affordable than many of the surrounding states, it’s by no means cheap. The costs of getting qualified in psychology go beyond tuition fees and course materials, you also need to be able to afford the exams and have the time available to commit to completing your degree.
If finances aren’t an issue, you might want to explore colleges that are higher up in the league table rankings than the schools in Kentucky. Higher ranked schools are located in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, and elsewhere — with Kentucky missing out on a spot in the Times’ global Higher Education Best Universities for Psychology 2019.
What are job prospects like for graduates?
The Bureau for Labor Statistics projects that the job market for psychology program graduates is set to grow by 3% between 2019 and 2029. This is just under the national average of 4%. However, when it comes to wages, psychologists in Kentucky can still make plenty of money.
The mean annual wage for a licensed mental health professional is $91,020, which is higher than West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee, but less than those working in Virginia and Illinois. Metropolitan areas within Kentucky such as Lexington-Fayette and Louisville-Jefferson counties are the most lucrative locations to develop your career in psychology.
What to expect in a Kentucky psychology college program
In general, a student will take between three and four years to complete their bachelor’s degree in psychology and one to three years to get qualified at master’s level. It’s not possible to start a career in psychology in Kentucky without spending at least four years in postsecondary education.
If you’re looking for an entry level point into becoming a mental health practitioner, there are a variety of general education foundational courses you can take. You might need to spend several semesters showing a propensity for education in general before moving on to psychology-specific coursework.
Once you get to master’s level, you can expect to spend a few terms looking at general concepts in psychology, but the bulk of your time is spent gaining an in-depth understanding of your chosen specialization.
The amount of time spent learning during a psychology program each week depends on a variety of factors. If you’re a full-time student attending a physical location, you’ll spend between 15 and 35 hours in lectures and classes. On the other hand, if you’re studying online part time, you might spend a maximum of 20 hours per week on your degree all together.
Why choose Kentucky?
There were 18,801 bachelor degrees in psychology awarded in the state in 2019, 6,530 master’s degrees and 784 doctorate’s degrees. While this is fewer than some of the bigger states surrounding Kentucky, it means demand for courses is lower. In turn, this means you have a good chance of being accepted onto your preferred course provided you meet the eligibility requirements.
While Kentucky isn’t one of the leading states when it comes to demand for mental health clinicians, this could work in your favor. Lots of people are likely to opt to attend universities in states such as California, Texas, New York and Florida, where the demand for psychologists is high. Of course, high demand means high competition — so you can make a name for yourself and stand out from the crowd more easily in a location like Kentucky.
Degree level psychology programs
Psychology is a broad subject that covers the entire spectrum of human behavior. As a mental health practitioner, you’ll choose a specialty that you learn about in intense detail. In addition to having a general understanding of psychology, your specialization will help you get the most out of clinical practice and let you give maximum support to clients.
Here are some of the specializations you can choose from when you embark upon an advanced psychology degree program.
Psychology of personality
Personality is growing in popularity within the subject, with famous figures such as Freud, Erikson and Bem making noteworthy contributions to the field. Students learn about the different theories of personality and learn how to apply them in social research and clinical settings.
Clinical psychology is a specialization within the field that focuses on individuals with debilitating, often life threatening mental illness. Listening, research and discovery are essential skills in this field, which to help people suffering from psychological stress and trauma learn how to promote their own wellbeing and personal growth.
Forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice system, and require a deep understanding about what drives criminal behavior. In addition to helping law enforcement solve crime, you’d treat people who have committed offenses and help them become upstanding members of society.
School psychologists work within the education system using principles they’ve learned from community psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, psychotherapy and behavioral science. Their aim is to help prevent mental health related issues at school and treat children who are struggling emotionally.
Clinical mental health counseling helps people gain a deeper awareness of themselves and relieve stress. Unlike a clinical psychologist who is focused on people with serious mental health diagnoses, a counselor is more likely to work with individuals who have experienced a crisis or experience mental illness as a reaction to a single life event. That said, counselors can also treat people with more severe mental illness, too.
Online psychology degree programs in Kentucky
When you study psychology, you learn about how human behavior functions physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively — and it’s no different online. Just like an ordinary degree, there are four levels of postsecondary education: Associate, bachelor, master and doctorate. You must complete the previous level or have a specific number of points to be eligible for the next level.
Online psychology degrees are getting more popular in Kentucky by the year, as people realize they have the power to choose the career of their dreams and obtain a qualification online. Distance learning degrees are much more flexible than the traditional type, allowing students to fit studies in around work and other commitments.
Although the requirements for clinical training mean that a master’s degree or higher might require that you spend time attending training in person, you can easily earn an associate or bachelor’s degree entirely online. Nonetheless, some faculties offer hybrid courses that are a mixture of online and in-person learning.
How to choose an online degree in psychology
Online degree programs in Kentucky are designed to meet the same standards as an in-person degree. That said, you should still take plenty of time conducting research before settling on an online university. Take a look at the rankings and reviews of each institution, faculty and department as well as comparing the instruction delivery formats of each course.
Here are some more tips for selecting the right course for you:
- Check if the program lets online students focus on research-led classes. Spending time in the lab can be one of the best ways of gaining an understanding of psychology and networking with likeminded future colleagues.
- Carefully examine the structure of the curriculum, taking into account whether the coursework seems to give a well-rounded overview of the subject matter. Ideally, your course should let you choose a specialization as soon as possible.
- Make sure the online degree program you select offers student services, such as counseling, tutoring, and academic support. Even the most diligent, smart, and accomplished students need support sometimes!
- Always check to see how many students who have completed a bachelor’s degree go on to enroll in graduate school. The higher the numbers, the more licensed psychologists the school is nurturing.
- You can go into detail about the instructors these days, with LinkedIn and other social networks providing insight into the careers and preferences of tutors. It’s also a good idea to check out the student to professor ratio — less students to teach means more quality time on the individuals who are there.
Sample online psychology classes in Kentucky
Each program has its own curriculum that’s been designed by a qualified instructor, so there’s significant variation when it comes to courses. You’ll view lectures and course material online, using the school’s course management system, which is also where you can contribute and gain insight from your peers using discussion boards.
The school uses coursework and exams to track your progress, but when it comes to learning — the power is truly in your hands. Here are some of the most popular online bachelor psychology degrees in Kentucky:
Introduction to psychology
Introduction to psychology is an entry-point into understanding clinical mental health. In this course, students learn about the foundations of human development, therapy concepts and theories of contemporary psychology.
Developmental psychology is a more specific field, and it relates to the way the brain interacts with our environment as we make our way through life, from birth to death. It can be useful for individuals looking to become clinical psychologists as well as those looking to become school psychologists.
Personality theory has been around for about a century, and this course helps you understand the progression of scientists’ understanding of personality. In this course, you’ll study personality development, research methodology and theoretical approaches.
In this course, you look at basic principles across the board of psychology, focusing on areas such as perception, intelligence, human growth, behavior, learning, motivation, and the sense.
Industry and government agencies must evaluate the course to ensure it meets the necessary standards. No matter what type of online degree you opt for, make sure the institutions you apply to have accredited status. If you end up going to a university that doesn’t have it, you won’t be able to progress in your career using the traditional route — and you might not be able to get qualified at all without starting over.
In Kentucky, psychology schools require regional accreditation and each course must be accredited by recognized governing bodies within the field of psychology. The APA accredits doctoral programs while the National Association of School Psychologists, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, and others accredit master’s programs.
The cost of an online psychology degree in Kentucky varies between universities, with the most affordable bachelor’s coming in at $32,000 per year in-state or $47,400 per year out-of-state. The highest amount you can expect to pay in the state is around $60,000. It’s less than the national average, but it’s by no means a paltry sum of money.
While higher education is a major financial investment, the cost is overshadowed by your earning potential once you’re qualified. Plus, with financial aid available to those who are in need, practically anyone can get a qualification online. The same grants and loans are offered to remote learning students as in-person learners.
Top schools in Kentucky with psychology programs
Now you know everything there is to know about getting a psychology degree in Kentucky, let’s take a look at some of the best schools. There are nine state universities and multiple private colleges to choose from.
We’ve taken a look at some of the highest performing schools in the local area, read on to discover more about the most popular local institutions, and some of the lesser known upcoming colleges.
The best psychology programs in Kentucky
There are so many schools to choose from in Kentucky alone, the information can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done a wealth of research to help you get started on the journey to choosing the best university course for your future.
University of Louisville
Louisville is Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area, meaning it’s probably the most lucrative place in the locale to become a therapist or counselor. The University of Kentucky is a state supported research facility with three campuses and the best reputation in Kentucky for psychology.
Students can complete a BA in-person or entirely online, and the cost is the same for both. An undergraduate psychology degree prepares learners for bachelor level work in addition to giving them all the necessary information to move on a graduate degree. In addition to learning how to gather, read and present data, you’ll develop communication and critical thinking skills necessary to understand human cognition, behavior and neuroscience. Graduate degrees in clinical and experimental psychology are also available.
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky is a leader of innovation and research, located in the heart of Lexington. It offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in psychology, with more than 50 courses across the spectrum. The course aims to prepare students for careers in health care, law, education and medicine, as well as helping you learn the skills necessary to take your studies on to Ph.D. or Psy.D.
If you attend this course and your aim to become a licensed practitioner, you’re able to complete additional coursework and participate in an internship in your selected specialization once you’ve completed a master’s.
Northern Kentucky University
Northern Kentucky University is located a stone’s throw away from downtown Cincinnati and it’s earned a place in the Forbes’ America’s Best Colleges rankings. It offers a BA or BS in psychological sciences, and seeks to answer the most prominent questions in psychology and human behavior.
Students learn about the foundations of behavior and learn the research skills necessary to move forward in their career. Required courses include social, biological and cognitive psychology, and learners can choose from specializations such as sleep, forensic psychology and human sexuality. You can complete this degree in person or online, and all undergraduate students have access to research opportunities.
Georgetown College is a private, Christian college that offers a psychology major at BA level. One of its main features is small class sizes, which mean each student gets ample attention from the faculty. The required course selections include psychology of motivation, health psychology, sensation, and perception and learning. Students get to choose from other modules, such as social psychology, child development, and abnormal psychology.
In addition to human psychology, this college places a keen interest in animal psychology, with opportunities for further specialization.
Kentucky State University
Kentucky State University has more than 1,700 students and a reputation as a historical, diverse school that excels at arts and sciences. You can take the psychology degree as a major or minor and it offers a comprehensive foundation to the study of human behavior, perception, memory, thought, emotion and development processes.
The course aims to help learners develop critical thinking and reasoning skills so they’re prepared for a career in law, business, or medicine — or ready to tackle psychology at master’s level.
Kentucky master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology
Often, individuals who complete a B.A. in psychology go on to gain further qualifications that allow them to enter the field of clinical psychology, social work, family and marriage counseling or any other field related to human behavior. Read on to find out about the best schools in Kentucky for graduate degrees.
Murray State University
You can get a Master of Arts of a Master of science degree from Murray State University. Students work on coursework that helps them to understand adults and children with regards to cognition, behavior and socialization. Every learner has access to a mentor who helps them develop their specialization and get the most out of the course.
Morehead State University
A master’s degree from Morehead State University sees students go through a mixture of classroom and applied clinical psychology, with a full year of internship included in the course. Inclusivity and progress are at their heart of this institutions ethos, and it has a reputation as one of the best universities in the country.
Eastern Kentucky University
Candidates who want to take part in the psychology master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University must have already completed a foundational course in the basics of psychology. This information is used throughout the program as the student works on a mixture of classroom and clinical tasks that prepare them for their future role. Graduates need to pass presentational and written coursework in order to complete their studies and move forward into obtaining licensure.
It’s interesting to note that all of the best colleges for studying psychology in Kentucky have lower admission rates and higher graduation rates. What’s more, it seems like cost isn’t always a sign of quality, with many of the top rated and most highly-regarded courses coming in at the mid-range with regards to price. Be sure to dedicate yourself to your studies, and you’ll find your way into a successful career in psychology in Kentucky in no time.