How to Become a College Psychology Professor

How to Become a College Psychology ProfessorA psychology professor must have an extensive educational background in the field, more than likely having a specific research niche while also having enough general knowledge to teach a wide variety of courses to students. The average psychology professor will spend a portion of each day teaching students in a classroom, working with graduate student researchers and completing their own research projects. Students who are interested in gaining a tenured position as a college psychology professor must have a broad understanding of what is required to have a career in this field.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you are interested in becoming a college psychology professor, you will want to start your career in academia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A bachelor’s degree in psychology will allow you to explore various subject areas within this field, and help you decide which subject area interests you the most. Many aspiring college professors choose to complete their bachelor’s degree program online, as it is a convenient and effective way to begin their career. A bachelor’s degree in psychology will provide you with the foundation for the rest of your career.

Attend Graduate School and Work Toward a Doctoral Degree

According to the Houston Chronicle, the average college professor must earn not only a master’s degree but also a doctoral degree. A master’s degree may take one or two years of additional schooling, and a doctoral degree requires three additional years in classes after your master’s degree is completed. During your doctoral program, you will work to develop an area of expertise and also learn how to create original research about a given topic. Research is an essential job responsibility of a college psychology professor, which is why most universities require that professors earn a doctoral degree and complete a dissertation before earning a position as a tenure-track professor at a university.

Develop Expertise in a Particular Psychology Subject

As a college professor, you will be considered an expert in both psychology as a general subject and your desired subject area. Most professors choose their area of expertise during their doctoral program, as they complete their dissertation and work on original research. After graduating with a doctoral degree, you may take the time to do a postdoctoral psychology fellowship. At this point in your career, you will spend a significant amount of time completing research and seeking to have it published in professional journals. This gives you a solid foundation of research experience, and allows you to be qualified to become a professor at a university.

Gain Teaching Experience

While research is an integral part of being a professor, universities also want to hire psychology professors who have experience working with students. If you are interested in becoming a psychology professor, you should spend time in graduate school working as a teaching assistant. Typically, this allows you to work with smaller classes and gives you a chance to work directly with undergraduate students. If you have this experience during graduate school, you will have the teaching foundation you need in order to become a college psychology professor at a college or university.

A college psychology professor must not only be skilled in their particular subject and interested in research, but also be passionate about working with students. Good communication skills are essential if you want to be a professor, as you must know how to effectively explain the subject matter to students with a wide variety of learning types. The average professor makes about $62,000 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this field will grow about 17 percent throughout the next decade, which is about average when compared to other career fields.

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