Is an Associate’s in Psychology Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Do you love helping others? Are you the friend that others look to for advice or the person that others talk to comfortably? Do you show empathy and compassion to others during challenging times? If so, have you considered a career in psychology? You may have thought of studying psychology but do not have time to dedicate to a four-year degree. In that case, an associate in psychology degree is an option worth considering.
Maybe you have thought of this type of degree but wonder, "Is an associate’s in psychology worth it?” If this sounds like you, you have found the right article. As you continue reading, I will share 25 reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it and also 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you. We will discuss what an associate in psychology degree is, what to expect from the programs, and answer some frequently asked questions. By the time you finish this article, you will have the information you need to help determine if this is a good career option for you.
WHAT IS AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
An associate degree in psychology is an undergraduate degree designed to prepare you for an entry-level position in psychology. These programs are typically two-year degrees offered at community colleges. Associate in psychology degree programs include the foundational studies of psychology, general education, and major prerequisite coursework.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAMS
HOW LONG DOES AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE TAKE?
The time it takes to complete an associate degree in psychology program will depend on how many hours you can dedicate to school. Most associate's in psychology degree programs take two years to complete. However, part-time students may take three years or longer. The following are a few examples.
offers an online associate in psychology degree program that takes four semesters or two years to complete on a full-time basis. Students who pursue the program part-time typically take three years to graduate.
California Coast University
offers an associate in psychology degree with a self-paced plan of study, allowing students to begin at any time and complete the program as slowly or rapidly as they prefer. Students can complete the program in as few as 12 months or take as long as five years to graduate.
HOW MUCH DOES AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE COST?
The cost of an associate's degree in psychology can range from $25,000 to more than $75,000. Factors that may determine your total cost include how long it takes you to complete the program and whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. The following are a few examples of the cost for associates in psychology programs.
Colorado Christian University
offers a two-year associate in psychology program that costs $494 per credit hour. The program includes a 60-credit-hour curriculum. Therefore, the total cost averages $29,640. Tuition discounts for military service members and dependents are available.
charges $475 per credit hour. The college’s associate in psychology program requires students to complete 60 to 65 credits, making the cost of the program range between $28,500 and $30,875
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
The admission requirements for associate's in psychology programs vary, depending on the school. Although you will see some differences, the general admission criteria include the following.
• High school diploma or GED
• Provide a personal statement of intent
• Official high school transcripts with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher
• Copies of your standardized ACT/SAT scores
• Copy of your immunization record
WHY IS AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY WORTH IT? – THE PROS
(The following are the 25 reasons why an Associate’s in Psychology is worth it in 2023.)
REASON #1: You can earn your degree in just two years.
One of the top reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it is you can earn a degree in a short time. Not everyone is prepared to spend the next four years studying for a bachelor's degree. The abbreviated time span is especially appealing for those with families or other personal or professional obligations.
REASON #2: An associate degree is typically less expensive than other degree programs.
If you want to earn a degree in psychology but the financial commitment makes you uneasy, an associate degree is a terrific way to get started. An associate degree in psychology can cost tens of thousands of dollars less than a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. This means it is possible to earn a college degree and lay the foundation for future studies without "breaking the bank.” This is one reason you may feel an associate’s in psychology is worth it.
REASON #3: An associate degree in psychology expands your understanding of human behavior.
Even if you do not commit to a career focused solely on psychology, understanding why people do what they do is useful in your personal and professional life. Earning an associate in psychology degree can help you improve your relationships with others. You will develop deeper levels of empathy, patience, and grace to relate to others and handle life's challenges.
REASON #4: You will learn to express your thoughts and feelings and how to practice emotional intelligence.
No matter where you work, you will find that working with others requires the ability to articulate your thoughts and feelings clearly and to be rational in stressful situations. Your ability to look at the facts and make an emotionally intelligent decision will be a direct result of the knowledge gained in your associate psychology program.
REASON #5: An associate in psychology degree can complement other degrees and professional experiences.
It is common for students in associate in psychology degree programs to express an interest in complementary fields. For example, you may be interested in studying education, business, criminal justice, or nursing. Earning an associate in psychology degree is an excellent way to complement any previous or future degrees or studies you pursue.
REASON #6: An associate degree in psychology helps you develop important interpersonal and professional skills.
You can use the skills you learn in an associate in psychology program in every aspect of your life. For example, you will learn how to use effective, therapeutic communication when dealing with others, how to collect data, and use critical thinking and analytical skills to solve problems.
REASON #7: You can expand your professional network.
One of the great things about earning a degree, like an associate in psychology degree, is the opportunity to develop and expand your professional network. You will develop relationships with instructors, classmates, and people at clinical sites. These people could be sources of information about additional educational and work opportunities. For example, your instructors may offer letters of recommendation for you to use when applying to a bachelor's or graduate degree program or a new job. You may develop rapport with people who work at clinical sites, which could later lead to a job offer or lead.
REASON #8: An associate degree in psychology can help lay the foundation for future studies.
An associate in psychology degree is a great option to help you prepare for a higher degree or future studies. You will gain a knowledge base and vital skills necessary to succeed in a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate program in psychology, should you decide to pursue one later. Additionally, many of the classes you take in an associate in psychology degree program are transferrable to other degrees, which is beneficial if you decide to follow a new career path or add a different degree to your academic repertoire.
REASON #9: You can earn a good, dependable income.
One of the top reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it is that you have good earning potential. The average income for an associate in psychology degree holder is $43,000 per year. However, with experience, you can earn significantly higher.
REASON #10: Long-term Job Security
Another reason why an associate’s in psychology is worth it is that you can find a job that offers long-term security. Whether you go to work in an educational system, a jail, a behavioral health center, or choose a different path, there are numerous options for jobs where employers seek people committed to long-term work.
REASON #11: An associate degree in psychology is not the most difficult degree to obtain.
Like any college degree, it takes a commitment to study and hard work to earn an associate's in psychology. However, this degree is not one of the hardest degrees to earn. Admission to these programs is usually fairly easy, and although the coursework covers a lot of information, it is not as difficult as graduate-level psychology studies or some other degree programs.
REASON #12: An associate degree in psychology be helpful when you ask for a raise!
When you earn an associate in psychology degree, you can use your new education and skills as leverage when seeking a raise. Some jobs you could get without an associate degree in psychology, such as a correctional officer or teacher's assistant, pay higher wages for individuals who have the degree, which is one of the biggest reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it.
REASON #13: With an associate degree in psychology, you may find a job with better work hours.
Some jobs that require a background in psychology offer typical office hours. If you have a family or other outside responsibilities, finding a job with a predictable schedule is probably important to you. If you are looking for a job where you can use your people skills and help others while still having time for family, you may feel an associate’s in psychology is worth it.
REASON #14: You can advance in the field of psychology faster.
Earning an associate's degree in psychology not only lays the foundation for future studies but also positions you to gain experience in the field while continuing your education. By doing this, you increase the rate by which you advance in the field.
REASON #15: With an associate degree in psychology, you can have a rewarding career.
There are many rewarding job opportunities available to people who earn an associate degree in psychology. You may choose to work with people dealing with addictive disorders as a mental health technician or take on a job as a paraprofessional or correctional officer, all of which can be very rewarding.
REASON #16: You can make a positive impact in others’ lives.
The deeper understanding of human thoughts and behaviors that comes with earning an associate degree in psychology can help you relate to others on a different level. Your compassion and concern for the well-being of your clients, no matter the type of setting where you work, can help give hope and direction, which creates a lasting, positive impact.
REASON #17: An associate degree in psychology gives you the foundation you need to focus on a specialty field.
One of the biggest reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it is you can focus on an area that is meaningful to you. Whether you love analyzing numbers or discussing theories and concepts, you can use those skills in a specific psychology focus. You may choose to work with addiction or behavior disorders, early childhood or preschool children, or work in human resources.
REASON #18: An associate degree in psychology increases the likelihood your resume will be read.
In our digital age, employers receive hundreds if not thousands of resumes daily. Companies often use software to search for keywords applicable to the duties and requirements of the position. The process narrows down the number of resumes they review. Psychology is a keyword that most programs pick up quickly. Therefore, your resume could stick out from among the rest in the selection process.
REASON #19: An associate degree in psychology can put you on the path to becoming a researcher.
An associate’s in psychology is worth it if you want to go into research. Researchers are an essential part of the field of psychology as they gather the data their colleagues use to form judgments and develop new treatments that help their communities. With this degree, you will develop an understanding of the human mind and human behaviors that can be built upon in a bachelor's or graduate psychology degree, which can open even more doors to research opportunities.
REASON #20: Earning an associate degree in psychology is a great way to keep your career options open.
You can apply the principles of psychology in many types of jobs. Because of that, you can keep your options open. Even if you have a career path in mind while pursuing the degree, it does not mean you cannot consider other options later. The fact that you can use what you learn in an associate psychology program in so many roles is one of the top reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it.
REASON #21: You will gain a unique perspective about others and the world around you.
Psychology is based on the philosophy of personal and world views. When you earn an associate in psychology degree, you can gain a unique perspective about people, populations, and the world, which can help you develop and improve personal and professional relationships and attain your goals.
REASON #22: You can be instrumental in helping children and families as a family advocate.
Family advocates work with children and families to protect the best interests of children and the family unit. Depending on the setting where you work, you may conduct home visits, counsel parents about needs within the family, provide transportation for children and parents to medical appointments, or refer families for appropriate interventions, such as parenting or anger management classes. The impact you can have on children and families is another of the top reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it.
REASON #23: You will learn how to analyze and interpret important data.
Even if you do not have an interest in research, knowing how to gather, analyze, and interpret data can be useful in a variety of jobs. As a student in an associate in psychology program, you will learn about statistics and research methods and could use those skills in roles such as marketing, advertising, education, and law enforcement. The knowledge you gain about how to interpret and use data to impact important decisions is another reason why an associate’s in psychology degree is worth it.
REASON #24: The knowledge and skills you gain in an associate’s in psychology program could be instrumental in helping make communities safer.
With an associate in psychology degree, you could work in law enforcement or community management settings.
In these roles, the knowledge, and skills you bring to the table could be helpful in planning and implementing measures to promote safe communities. You could spearhead projects designed to give children a safe place to receive supervised care while parents work, which reduces the risk of adolescent crime and abuse. If you choose to pursue a role in law enforcement, you may work in a role that involves maintaining order in public settings, which promotes safety. Your knowledge of human thoughts and behaviors can have a far reach when it comes to making the community you live in safer.
REASON #25: You will continually learn about yourself, which will benefit your clients.
One of the best ways to learn about and help others is to first learn about ourselves. An associate in psychology degree will help you take a look at yourself. You will learn to express your emotions, identify ways to care for yourself, effectively communicate and demonstrate empathy. As you learn more about yourself, your drive to help others is likely to take on a more personal feel, which means you can be more effective at your job.
WHY AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY MAY NOT BE WORTH IT FOR YOU? – THE CONS
(Now that we have discussed the 25 reasons why an Associate’s in Psychology is worth it, I want to share a few reasons why you could feel an Associate’s in Psychology is not worth it.)
REASON #1: If you do not work well in stressful situations, an associate degree in psychology may not be worth it.
Many of the jobs that people with an associate degree in psychology get are stressful. For example, some graduates of associate in psychology programs work in law enforcement, human services roles, or education. While these jobs can be rewarding, they can also be stressful. So, if you are looking for a low-stress job, you may feel an associate’s in psychology is not worth it.
REASON #2: You prefer not to deal with others.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a job where you can work independently or where you do not have to deal with other people's problems. However, the very root of psychology deals with human thought and behavior. If you prefer not to deal with others, you may want to reconsider earning a degree in psychology.
REASON #3: It could take a long time to get a management role, if you get one at all.
While you can do many things with an associate in psychology degree, the chances of being a manager or administrator are more likely with a higher degree. Keep in mind, there are opportunities to transition your career whenever you want. You can earn your associate degree in psychology, work to gain experience, and earn a higher degree when you are ready to help grow your career potential.
REASON #4: You cannot open your own practice.
If you aspire to own your own psychology or counseling practice, you may be disappointed to know that will not happen with an associate's in psychology degree. To open your own practice, you need a doctoral degree. Remember, however, an associate's degree in psychology is a great way to lay the foundation for graduate studies. So, before you say an associate’s in psychology degree is not worth it, consider if earning your degree in small steps is best for you. If it is, go for your associate degree, then work your way up to the level you need to open your practice!
REASON #5: There are other healthcare-related careers that pay more.
One of the key factors people consider when choosing a career is income potential. The average income for graduates of associate in psychology programs is $43,000 per year. If you are looking to make a higher income, you may feel an associate’s in psychology is not worth it.
REASON #6: An associate degree in psychology may lead to work with an inconsistent schedule.
If you need guaranteed consistency in your work schedule, you may find an associate’s in psychology is not worth it. While some jobs have good schedules, many of the positions available to graduates of associate psychology degree programs require shift work, which may include night, weekend, or holiday scheduling.
REASON #7: You are simply not ready to commit to college.
You may want to pursue a career in psychology but feel like now is not the best time. You should begin your degree program at a time that is best suited for you. Do not let the opinions of others sway your decision about going to school or waiting. An associate in psychology degree program requires a time commitment and hard work. So, if you are not ready, consider your options and begin when you are ready to commit.
WHAT ARE THE 3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS?
If you are considering a career, it is always good to consider where there is a need for the services you hope to provide. Below are the three main reasons why there is a high demand for associate’s in psychology degree holders.
1. Increased awareness about mental health issues means there is a greater need for mental health professionals.
Years ago, there was such a stigma attached to mental health issues that lead to many people continuing to suffer, instead of seeking help. Today, there is a heightened awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness, which means there is an increased need for professionals, like graduates of associate in psychology degree programs to provide services that promote that wellness.
2. Effects of COVID-19:
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has affected individuals and families irrespective of race, color, or socio-economic status. In addition to personal illness and recovery, people have lost loved ones, experienced job-related stress, and some even experienced long-term physical problems linked to the virus. According to some CDC reports
, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased substance abuse, and more people reporting thoughts of suicide. This means there is greater demand for qualified mental healthcare providers, like graduates of associate in psychology degree programs.
3. An aging population leading to the retirement of current psychology specialists.
As the baby boomer generation ages and reaches retirement age, those specializing in psychology-related fields are leaving vacant jobs. These vacancies create an urgency for jobs to be filled, which is another reason that contributes to the demand for graduates of psychology programs, like associate in psychology degree programs.
WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY FOR NEW ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS?
The starting salary for new associate’s in psychology degree holders is $23,810 per year. That breaks down to $1,980 per month, $458 per week, and $11.45 per hour.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR EXPERIENCED ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE HOLDERS?
The average salary for associate’s in psychology degree holders with experience is $43,000 annually. This pay is equivalent to $3,580 monthly, $827 weekly, and $20.67 hourly.
IS THE COST OF AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?
The average cost to complete an associate psychology degree is $21,000. If you consider the starting salary for new associate in psychology degree holders is $23,810, you could question whether the return on investment is worth it. However, if you continue working in the field, you can eventually earn a salary between $40,000 and $45,000 each year and find ways to use your degree to secure supplemental income, which means you could see a positive Return on Investment.
WHAT ARE THE 3 BEST JOBS YOU CAN GET WITH AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
An associate in psychology degree can open the door to several great jobs in a variety of settings. The following are a few examples of some of the best jobs you can get with this type of degree.
1. Teacher Assistant:
Does the idea of working with children to make a difference in their lives appeal to you? If so, a job as a teacher's assistant could be a good fit. With an associate degree in psychology, you will have the knowledge and skills needed to pursue this career route. A teacher's assistant, often referred to as a paraprofessional aide, works alongside teachers and assists children with learning difficulties or other disabilities.
2. Social Services Assistant:
As a social services assistant, you may work with social services professionals to help clients as they apply for services, such as housing assistance, Medicaid, or nutritional services applications. In this role, you may perform follow-up calls or visits with clients to verify they are receiving appropriate services or understand the types of services available to them.
3. Corrections Officer:
Correctional officers work in jails, detention centers, courthouses, and other legal facilities. Corrections officers help maintain order in correctional facilities by supervising inmates, enforcing rules, and helping promote safe daily operations.
BONUS! 3 TIPS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WITH AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE?
1. Become a mentor/life coach:
While there are no special degrees required for life coaching or mentoring others, a background in psychology can increase credibility among potential clients. Your associate in psychology degree will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to interact with your clients and promote change to improve their lives. One of the great things about becoming a mentor or life coach is that you can keep your day job and take on one or two clients (or more if your schedule permits) to supplement your income.
2. Find contracted work during your free time:
With an associate degree in psychology, you could do some contract work on the side to help boost your income. For example, you may take on a short-term research assistant contract, fill in as a teacher’s aide, or work some on-call shifts for the local Council on Aging.
3. Consider doing some freelance writing:
If you enjoy writing, freelance writing is an excellent way to bolster your income in your free time. You can use your knowledge and experience to write about issues related to mental health and wellness. For example, you could write about ways to create a healthy work/life balance, reducing stress or parenting.
SO, IS AN ASSOCIATE’S IN PSYCHOLOGY WORTH YOUR TIME AND MONEY – MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If you are wondering my thoughts on if an associate’s in psychology is worth your time and money, the answer is, absolutely! With the lower cost to earn the degree, a positive return on investment, and excellent job opportunities, you probably see the benefits, too. As you consider the 25 reasons why an associate’s in psychology is worth it and also 7 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you featured in this article, I encourage you to think about your short- and long-term personal and professional goals. If you feel a career in psychology is something you want to pursue, go for it! The sky really is the limit!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
1. What Is The Best Age To Pursue An Associate’s In Psychology Degree?
While there is no perfect age to pursue an associate degree in psychology, you do need a level of maturity and a willingness to dedicate yourself to studies.
2. How Hard Is It To Get Into An Associate’s In Psychology Degree Program?
Associate in psychology degree programs usually have a high admission rate. However, I recommend finding out the admission requirements and doing your best to exceed them. For instance, do not settle for the minimum GPA required. Submit your COMPLETE application early and follow-up to keep your name fresh in the minds of the admissions team.
3. Do I Need Work Experience To Get Into An Associate’s In Psychology Degree Program?
While there usually is no work experience required to enroll in an associate psychology degree program, it does not hurt to have paid or volunteer experience. You could consider volunteering at the local Council on Aging or homeless shelter, or becoming a substitute teacher.
4. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into An Associate’s In Psychology Degree Program?
Most associate in psychology programs require applicants to have a minimum high school GPA of 2.5. This requirement varies from one school to the next. So, be sure to verify the admission criteria with each school that interests you.
5. Are Online Associate’s In Psychology Degree Programs Worth It?
Accredited online associate in psychology degree programs offer the same education as campus-based programs, which means if you are looking for quality education, they are worth as much as comparable in-person programs.
6. Are Scholarships And Grants Available For Associate’s In Psychology Degree Programs?
There are an abundance of scholarships and grants for those enrolling in associate psychology degree programs. Federal financial aid
is also available for qualified applicants.
7. Is It Hard To Complete An Associate’s In Psychology Degree?
Completing any college degree requires a time commitment and dedication to your studies. While some students may find the program more challenging than others, it is possible to be successful in an associate in psychology degree program.
8. Can Associate’s In Psychology Students Have A Life?
Students enrolled in an associate degree program for psychology can still have a social life. Attending an online school frees up even more time spent that would have been spent commuting, and you can often learn at your own pace. Whichever path you choose, it is wise to create a schedule and stick with it.
9. Can I Work Part-Time And Successfully Complete The Associate’s In Psychology Degree Program?
Yes, it is possible to work part-time and successfully complete an associate in psychology degree program.
10. Can I Work Full-Time And Successfully Complete The Associate’s In Psychology Degree Program?
Many students work full-time while pursuing an associate degree in psychology. Careful planning for both your work schedule and academic schedule will be helpful. If your job is demanding, you may need to consider pursuing your degree part-time. Do not be discouraged if it takes you an additional year to finish school.
11. Do Students Fail In Associate’s In Psychology Degree Programs?
As with all college programs, some students fail in associate’s in psychology degree programs. However, with careful planning and dedication to your studies, it is possible to be successful.
12. Will I Ever Regret Getting An Associate’s In Psychology Degree?
While it is impossible to determine how you will feel after completing an associate in psychology degree, most people indicate being pleased with their decision. You will have a better understanding of human behavior and thoughts, which is invaluable for your personal and work life.
13. How Much Does An Associate’s In Psychology Graduate Make Per Hour?
An associate in psychology program graduate makes approximately $20.67 per hour.
14. How Much Does An Associate’s In Psychology Graduate Make Per Year?
The average annual income for graduates of associate in psychology programs is $43,000.
15. Will Associate’s In Psychology Graduates Be Paid Less In The Future?
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that require psychology degrees will increase by 8% by 2030. The projected increase in jobs suggests that a decrease in pay is unlikely.
16. Are All Associate’s In Psychology Graduates Successful In Their Careers?
While all graduates of associate in psychology degree programs may not succeed, your success in the field depends on the dedication and effort you put into growing your career. It helps to choose a specialty area you find fulfilling.
17. Are Associate’s In Psychology Graduates Happy With Their Jobs?
Most reports and surveys indicate graduates of associate in psychology degrees are happy with their jobs. Because the field is so broad, it is easier to find a niche that is most fulfilling for you, which can improve your chances of job satisfaction.
18. Can Associate’s In Psychology Degree Holders Become Rich?
The average salary for associate in psychology degree holders is $43,000 per year. While that salary alone is unlikely to make you rich, with good spending habits and a solid financial plan, you can increase your likelihood of financial well-being.
19. What Are Some Of The Best Associate’s In Psychology Degree Alternatives?
A few alternatives to associate in psychology degree programs include teaching, marketing, social work, human services, or criminal justice.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).