Career Advice

16 Psychology Specializations: How to Pick the Right One

Psychology graduates have the option of psychology specialization to learn more about a particular area of the discipline. The ability to focus on the behaviors and factors that impact mental health lets psychologists create treatment and counseling strategies for patients. If you obtain a psychology degree, you can think about concentrating on one of the numerous subfields.

In this article, we’ll go over 16 psychology specialization options as well as specialization selection advice.

What exactly is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of mental processes and behavior as they relate to a variety of other fields of knowledge, such as cognitive functions, brain structure, human growth and development, mental well-being, and social conduct.

Why pursue a career in psychology?

Psychology professionals have meaningful careers that teach others how to deal with mental illnesses and overcome obstacles. Therapists and other psychology experts can assist people and families in becoming stronger, more successful, and better functioning, depending on their field of psychology specialization. Additionally, they help clients with a variety of psychological and behavioral problems.

16 different psychology specializations

You can choose a subfield of psychology to specialize in if you’re a student of psychology wanting to go to graduate school. You can gain extensive knowledge about unusual actions and their causes as a result, which will allow you to make contributions to clinical care, research, or education. Specialties on behavior in people, animals, cells, surroundings, businesses, and society are among the subspecialties of psychology.

Think about these 16 fields of specialization when submitting your graduate school application:

1. Neuropsychology

The field of neuropsychology psychology specialization investigates how the nervous system and the brain influence behavior. Patients with cognitive or physical disabilities brought on by diseases or damage to the brain, such as Parkinson’s disease, are treated by neuropsychologists. To treat or manage their disease, they assist patients with rehabilitation.

A neuropsychologist analyzes patients by giving them a battery of tests that require them to demonstrate their mental and physical skills. Neurologists operate in clinics and hospitals with a focus on treating brain illnesses and injuries. To assist patients in preserving or regaining motor functions, they could work in conjunction with physical therapists.

2. Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology is a psychology specialization that deals with the study of how people interact with their working environments. Organizational psychologists collaborate with businesses to create strategies that boost worker happiness and output. They learn how to alter office settings so that workers are more at ease and productivity is promoted.

Organizational psychologists can offer hiring assistance and evaluate job applicants to see if they’re a suitable fit for a business. Psychologists who select this specialty may also work in education or for government organizations that aim to improve working conditions.

3. Clinical psychology

Treatment for patients with diverse psychological problems is a psychology specialization of clinical psychology. Patients who suffer from sleeplessness, anxiety, or depression are treated by clinical psychologists. To work with kids, the elderly, or persons with particular problems, they can also pursue further specialization.

Clinical psychologists may work in medical facilities, private practices, clinics, treatment facilities, or educational institutions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is frequently used to diagnose and treat individuals.

4. Physiological psychology

A psychology specialization known as physiological psychology is concerned with how the brain’s physiological processes impact behavior. Similar to neuropsychology, but with a research-oriented approach, these psychologists examine issues like brain damage, emotions, sleep, the nervous system, sexual behavior, and language development. They also conduct studies to discover the causes of and methods for treating brain problems.

The primary focus of physiological psychologists is the study of brain damage, including how different kinds and levels of damage impact cognition and behavior. Animal experimentation may also be a part of this vocation to better understand the functioning of the human nervous system and brain.

5. Counseling psychology

The focus of counseling psychology is on human characteristics and flexibility. Although this psychology specialization is comparable to clinical psychology, instead of treating psychological problems, counselors help patients who have a difficult time adjusting to life’s events or changes.

Psychologists that provide therapy can assist with coping, bereavement, and stress management. They help their patients learn ways that help them better adjust to change through talk therapy. A psychologist who selects this specialty can work in clinics, private practices, hospitals, and schools.

6. Developmental psychology

Developmental psychology is a psychology specialization that is concerned with the study of how people grow and change as they age and how their brains change. The focus of this specialty for psychologists is on social and cognitive development. They evaluate kids for developmental impairments while working with them.

Developmental psychologists typically work in academic or research environments, and their work aids in parenting and helps pediatricians comprehend young children. To create programs that can accommodate kids with developmental problems, they might speak with early education specialists.

7. School Psychology

School psychology is the psychology specialization that concerns the study of the settings, teachers, and instructional strategies that can improve a student’s learning. School psychologists evaluate pupils’ learning styles and suggest any modifications they might require. This can entail using teaching strategies that better fit a student’s learning preferences.

An educational psychologist can identify learning impairments and make therapy suggestions. In addition to assisting in the development of curricula, school psychologists also employ their advanced skills to improve learning environments such as classrooms. They frequently serve as consultants for parents and teachers or in a public school system.

8. Sports psychology

Sports psychology is a psychology specialization that covers the study of how exercise affects the mind. Sports psychologists deal with athletes to help them overcome mental obstacles that hinder performance and develop attitudes and behaviors that will improve their physical prowess. Sports psychologists help athletes of all ages and abilities by working in research, education, and on professional sports teams. Sports psychologists can also assist with athlete evaluation, counseling, and training.

9. Biopsychology

The fundamentals of human behavior, involving relationships with other creatures and environments, are studied by a psychology specialization known as biopsychology, sometimes known as behavioral neuroscience. These psychologists frequently have positions as researchers or lecturers. Biopsychologists research several bodily systems, including the neurological, immunological, and cardiovascular systems. Their work aids in the comprehension of various mental diseases and their symptoms by psychologists in other subspecialties.

10. Social psychology

Social psychology is a psychology specialization that deals with the study of how people interact, feel, and act. With concern about how human perception impacts attitude and conduct, this specialization is closely related to sociology. These specialists in psychology investigate why people behave in particular ways and look into emotions including attraction, fear, prejudice, and anger.

Social psychologists tend to either pursue research careers or pursue academic careers as professors or teachers depending on the organization where they teach. They might also decide to work for the federal government conducting campaigns, legal research, and other practical studies. These psychologists may conduct focus group studies or recruit participants for their studies.

11. Psychology of addiction

Research on methods of treating addicts is done in the psychology specialization of addiction psychology. Psychologists that specialize in this field may work in hospitals or treatment facilities, giving advice and cognitive behavioral therapies to individuals who are addicted. Students who specialize understand the reasons for addictions as well as how to identify this problem in their patients. To gain knowledge about treating addiction, it’s typical to undergo a clinical internship at a recovery facility.

12. Forensic psychology

Criminology and psychology are combined psychology specializations in the field of forensic psychology. In the field of law enforcement, forensic psychologists can look into crimes, represent victims, and testify in court. They might evaluate potential witnesses and suspects and assist with the evidence review. Some people specialize in the field of criminal profiling to assist with identifying and apprehending offenders, while others are employed by the jail system to help create rehabilitation programs or offer counseling. Topics like motivation and psychological disorders in criminals may be the subject of forensic psychology research.

13. Health psychology

The field of health psychology specialization examines the relationships between psychological and physical health. Health psychologists research behavior’s effects on health. They develop initiatives to encourage healthy behaviors and offer education on prevention so that people may control their health.

These programs might cover subjects like stress reduction and quitting smoking, for instance. Health psychologists may work for government organizations, corporations, hospitals, or academic institutions.

14. Educational psychology

Learning style research is done in the psychology specialization of educational psycToorder to comprehend the way individuals learn as well as how these principles affect their capacity to learn, educational psychologists look at ideas like personality, intellect, cognition, and motivation. They also construct instructional methods for educational settings and offer insightful information about learning styles. For instance, educational psychologists may recommend study techniques to enhance memorization based on their studies.

15. Cognitive psychology

In the psychology specialization of cognitive psychology, mental health is treated using a scientific method. To comprehend and forecast human behavior, a cognitive psychologist investigates human mental functions such as memory, motor control, perception, and language.

They might work for firms to assist in product development and the creation of marketing strategies to help organizations connect with their clients. Cognitive psychologists can also find employment in academia where they investigate cognitive functions like learning to aid in the development of instructional strategies for various learner types.

16. Environmental psychology

The study of how people interact with their environment is known as environmental psychology. Environmental psychologists conduct research for charitable organizations and governmental organizations with a focus on how various settings influence people. They may be employed in city planning or interior and exterior design to aid in the planning of urban building projects.

Psychologists that specialize in this psychology specialization may address global warming and investigate the factors that influence how individuals respond to it. Environmental psychologists are also employed by zoos and parks to safeguard animals and prevent environmental disruption caused by human activity.

Advice for selecting a specialty

Potential advantages of specializing in a psychological subfield include higher wages, the chance to work on a topic that interests you, and more job options. Consider these suggestions when choosing a psychology specialty because doing so involves more investigation and consideration:

Think about your interests.

When selecting a psychology specialization, take your interests and hobbies into account. For instance, if you enjoy mysteries and crime dramas, you may decide to pursue a forensic psychology specialization so that you could find employment in law enforcement. Various specialties concentrate on development, learning styles, or educational settings if you have an enthusiasm for education.

Look into all of the subspecialties.

Learning about all of your fields of specialty can help you make an informed choice. You can find out which occupations you might acquire if you specialize and the subjects that each specialty focuses on by researching your possibilities. You could be able to work in a field that interests you or entails studying and developing a topic in which you have expertise.

Select the workplace that you desire.

When selecting a specialty for a psychologist, keep in mind the environment you would like to work in as well as potential coworkers. For instance, some psychology specializations concentrate on conducting research, whilst others prioritize evaluating and treating patients. You could select a specialty that gives you the greatest job pleasure by taking your future workplace into account.

Where do psychologists find work?

Hospitals, behavioral facilities, medical schools, outpatient facilities, rehabilitation facilities, and psychologists’ own offices are just a few of the places where they work. Psychologists spend a large portion of their time alone conducting research and compiling case files in addition to dealing with their patients and other medical personnel.

How to land a career in psychology

To find employment in psychology, take these actions:

  • Acquire a bachelor’s degree.
  • Obtain experience.
  • Research graduate programs.
  • Select a degree and a specialty.
  • Earn a psychology Ph.D.
  • Obtain a license.

1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree.

The majority of psychology-related employment demands a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. After earning your psychology bachelor’s degree, you’ll be qualified to apply for a variety of entry-level jobs in the field, such as career advisor, case supervisor, childcare provider, market researcher, and probation officer. A bachelor’s degree is necessary for admission to graduate-level psychology programs if you decide to further your studies and become a psychologist.

2. Acquire experience

You might acquire firsthand experience in the profession to further your understanding of the subject, depending on your field of interest. Try shadowing a professor researching if you’re interested in experimental psychology. When pursuing a career in developmental psychology, seek possibilities to work with young people with disabilities. Hospitals and mental health clinics are excellent places to obtain clinical psychology expertise.

3. Research postgraduate courses.

Review the many graduate programs offered if you’re interested in a high-paying psychology career. Pick the college that best fits your needs and interests in terms of your career. When deciding whether a school will provide you with the education you want, it’s crucial to consider the teachers’ credentials and college courses. Certain courses are more suitable for particular specialties. To be admitted into a master’s degree, applicants must have a strong GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) score, offer recommendation letters, and have research experience.

4. Select a major and a specialization

Decide if you’ll seek a master’s degree or a Ph.D. degree for what you specialize in after researching graduate programs. Depending on your professional objectives, you might need to obtain a PsyD, Ph.D., EdD, or EdS. Consult the career counselor at your school and, if possible, interview additional psychologists to determine whether certifications are worthwhile pursuing. If you choose to pursue a doctorate after receiving your bachelor’s degree, be prepared to enroll in college for a further four to six years. You can choose from the clinical, counseling, and school psychology specializations.

5. Complete a psychology doctoral program

You’ll require a variety of skills to complete your Ph.D. education. Before moving on to the dissertation and internship requirements, you must first successfully finish all degree-related courses with an appropriate grade point average (GPA), along with a dissertation. After completing all degree prerequisites, you’ll be qualified to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

6. Obtain a license

To practice, psychologists must obtain a license, and each state has its standards. Prospects need to pass the EPPP, finish two years of supervised experience, or 3,000 hours, and graduate from a Ph.D. school that is accredited. You must finish a predetermined amount of continuing education hours as required by your state to keep your license active.

Typical psychology careers

The most typical jobs in psychology are listed below, along with a description of each position’s key responsibilities and average annual pay:

1. Psychiatrist

National average yearly salary: $219,482

Primary responsibilities: Doctors that specialize in identifying and treating an array of mental diseases are known as psychiatrists. They are qualified by their education to evaluate psychiatric disorders’ mental and physical components. Psychiatrists are qualified to diagnose and treat individuals with severe psychological conditions and to administer medicines. They may provide electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in addition to psychological therapies to promote brain activity.

2. Clinical psychologist

National average yearly salary: $96,204

Primary responsibilities: Clinical psychologists’ main responsibilities include treating patients with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorders, and other psychological problems. To diagnose and treat the diseases, they collaborate with the patients. Additionally, they could specialize in working with kids or elderly people or undertake research projects. Clinical psychologists provide counseling to patients and their loved ones in addition to creating unique treatment programs to address particular behaviors.

3. Therapist

National average yearly salary: $67,600

Primary responsibilities: The main job of a therapist is to assist patients in bettering their emotional and behavioral health. Through conversations with clients, they attempt to lessen the symptoms of anxiety, stress, despair, anger, sorrow, and a host of other emotions that have an impact on a client’s day-to-day existence. Therapists frequently provide diagnoses and assessments of their patient’s problems and recommend beneficial exercises intended to assist them to deal with their mental difficulties.

4. School psychologist

National average yearly salary: $69,537

Primary responsibilities: School psychologists typically assist kids and teens who are struggling with mental and behavioral problems. They pay attention to their worries about certain issues and assist them in figuring out ways to change their behavior. In addition, school psychologists collaborate with parents and staff members to identify and treat children’s issues. They do this by administering tests and developing individualized education plans that promote a child’s academic progress.

5. A career advisor

National average yearly salary: $43,776

Primary responsibilities: Career counselors help people choose careers. Counselors consult with clients of many ages and stages of life to identify their talents, character qualities, and interests to better comprehend what positions are most suitable for them. Career counselors research various career alternatives and offer tools to help clients start new careers based on the client’s profile.


Choosing the right psychology specialization can have a significant impact on your career and professional satisfaction. It requires careful consideration of your interests, strengths, and long-term goals. By thoroughly researching different psychology specializations, assessing your personal preferences and skills, seeking advice from professionals in the field, and gaining practical experience, you can make an informed decision.

Remember that the right specialization should align with your passions, provide opportunities for growth and fulfillment, and open doors to diverse career paths. Embrace the journey of self-discovery, explore various options, and trust your instincts to find the psychology specialization that best suits you and allows you to make a meaningful impact in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions about psychology specializations

  • How do I know which psychology specialization is right for me?

To determine the right psychology specialization, consider your interests, strengths, and career goals. Explore different areas of psychology, research the job prospects and requirements of each specialization, and reflect on what resonates with you the most.

  • Can I switch my psychology specialization if I change my mind later?

Yes, it is possible to switch your psychology specialization if you find that your initial choice doesn’t align with your interests or career goals. However, it may require additional coursework or training, so it’s important to carefully consider your decision and consult with academic advisors or professionals in the field.

  • Are there specific prerequisites or qualifications for each psychology specialization?

Yes, each specialization may have specific prerequisites or qualifications. Some specializations may require certain undergraduate courses, research experience, or specific skills. It’s important to review the admission requirements and prerequisites of the programs or positions you are interested in.

  • How can I gain practical experience in different psychology specializations?

You can gain practical experience in different psychology specializations through internships, volunteer work, or research opportunities. Seek out relevant organizations, clinics, or research labs where you can get hands-on experience and exposure to different fields within psychology.

  • Can I pursue multiple psychology specializations simultaneously?

While it is possible to have interests in multiple psychology specializations, pursuing multiple specializations simultaneously can be challenging. Each specialization requires focused study and dedication. However, you can explore interdisciplinary approaches or find ways to integrate different aspects of psychology into your career or research, depending on the specific opportunities available to you.

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