Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that primarily deals with human mental processes such as language use, memory, attention, problem solving, and perception. This field of psychology is relatively new, and has become a popular choice of study in recent years. Applications of cognitive psychology can be seen in numerous areas such as neuroscience and linguistics. Cognitive psychology has become the forefront of research in psychology.
Many institutions are now offering cognitive psychology as a major or specialization area. Cognitive psychology can be pursued at associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral level. Individuals interested in this major will learn about the functioning of the brain and its processes. These degree programs will help students prepare for a career as cognitive psychologist or a related occupation.
Associate degree in Cognitive Psychology
An associate degree in psychology is designed to provide students with fundamental knowledge about psychology and its applications. Students can focus on cognitive psychology courses while enrolled in the program.
The curriculum of an associate degree in psychology will vary from college to college. However, the overall format and requirements remain the same. Students will initially develop a strong foundation in psychology and its principles, and may proceed to advanced courses later in the program. The courses can be theoretical and practical. It is important for students to not only learn theoretical concepts, but also polish their on-hands skill set.
Here are a few subjects commonly covered in an associate degree in psychology:
Design and statistical analysis
Research in psychology
Dual process theory
Cognitive Psychology Jobs
An associate degree in psychology with cognitive psychology focus may qualify students for a number of entry-level jobs in public and private firms.
Probation officer – They supervise people who have been placed on probation.
Social worker – They help people with their everyday problems.
Counselor (family, employment, etc) – They help people overcome and manage emotional and mental disorders and problems.
Case worker – They are also known as social workers who help people cope and solve everyday problems.
Childcare worker – They look after the children when parents and other family members are unavailable.
The income level will vary from job to job and will depend on the employer organization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), $44,200 was the median annual income of social workers in 2012 whereas probation officers made a median annual income of $48,190.
Bachelor degree in Cognitive Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is a 4 year undergraduate program. Most psychology careers require applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. As compared to an associate program, a bachelor’s degree will focus on advanced-level subjects. Students will cover a broad range of subjects relevant to psychology and may learn how to apply psychological theories to current issues in the field. In the first few semesters, students may develop a thorough understanding of psychology fundamentals and its applications. It is necessary to have a strong understanding of basic concepts of the field before moving onto advanced areas.
Listed below are common subjects covered in the program:
Cognition and language
Sensation and perception
Statistics and research in psychology
Once students have opted for cognitive psychology as their specialization, they will focus on important aspects of cognitive psychology. Related courses may include counterfactual thinking, cognitive resource theory, and cognitive flexibility.
Most programs will entail research oriented coursework. The coursework aims to teach practical knowledge and skills. Students may learn how to effectively use scientific tools for research, design and run experiments, and interpret results.
Cognitive Psychology Careers
Skills and knowledge acquired through a bachelor’s degree in psychology can help students work in a variety of industries ranging from retail to law enforcement. Listed below are a few occupations and their median annual income as estimated by the BLS in 2012:
Advertising Sales Agents: $46,290 – They sell advertising space to individuals and businesses.
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides: $27,440 – They care for people with mental developmental disabilities.
School and Career Counselors: $53,610 – School counselors’ help students succeed in school while career counselors help them make career related decisions.
Probation Officers: $48,190 – They keep checking that people who are under their supervision meet their probation terms.
Childcare Workers: $19,510 – Childeren activities monitoring
Social Workers: $44,200 – Support people with difficuilties like elderly, physical disabilities, health conditions.
Many students also pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology to prepare for advanced degrees such as a masters degree. To work as certified or licensed psychologist, a post-graduate degree will be needed.
Masters in Cognitive Psychology
A master’s degree in psychology is a graduate program that typically takes 2 years (full-time) to complete. Students enrolled in this program may learn how to apply major concepts of psychology and conduct independent research. The coursework will focus on cognitive psychology and advanced psychological approaches, and how cognitive sciences are infused in the traditional areas of psychology.
Alongside classroom based learning, students will actively take part in research projects and experimentation. Subjects can be theory-based and practice oriented, depending on the institute offering the program. Here are a few subjects that are covered in the graduate program:
Foundations of cognitive and affective science
Methods of cognitive neuroscience
Students must complete a research project on a chosen field of study that is relevant to their interest. The project will reflect their skills and understanding of cognitive psychology. Practical research work may constitute a substantial portion of the curriculum. Most institutes require students to complete research projects under the supervision of a faculty-member or instructor.
Cognitive Psychology Careers
The career options that come with a graduate degree in cognitive psychology are diverse. Graduates may work as psychologist assistant under the supervision of licensed psychologists. As an assistant, individuals will help with data collection and analysis, testing, and documentation. The income level will vary from state to state and will also depend on factors such as skills and employer organization.
Individuals who are interested in working directly with people can apply for positions in the social work/community, forensics, law enforcement, and education sectors. Here are a few job positions that can be considered with a graduate degree in cognitive psychology:
Survey Researcher – They analyze data and design surveys.
Data analyst – Also known as statistical assistants, data analysts compute and compile data according to statistical formulas.
Social worker – Human resource manager – They coordinate, direct and plan the administrative functions of an organization.
Organizational Psychologist – They apply psychological principles to marketing, sales, management and human resources problems.
The income level of each occupation will vary. Individuals who want to become licensed cognitive psychologists must pursue a doctoral degree. Certifications in cognitive psychology may help improve career prospects and allow individuals to advance in the field.