Education + Human Services

Help Others Succeed

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Are you passionate about people-centered work that transforms communities? You may want to consider building your future in Education + Human Services.

This career path is for those who want to become future educators, practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and change agents. Together, these professionals strengthen communities, address systemic issues, and support others through direct service, outreach, prevention, and advocacy. They are dedicated to the growth, development, and needs of individuals through work that includes teaching, child development, counseling, psychology, social work, social services, speech-language pathology, human resources, NGOs, and nonprofits. 

If this sounds like you or who you want to become, learn how you can move forward to help others.



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Explore Grad School:
Psychology and Counseling

For complete information on graduate school search strategies and the application process, review our starter tips to Explore Grad School in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Choosing a Program

Graduate programs range in competitiveness for admissions. You can apply to programs with any major; however, some programs recommend or require specific undergraduate courses and other programs emphasize practice or research experience.

If you are going into a field that requires a license or certificate, be sure to review the educational requirements for licensure within the state you wish to practice. We recommend asking the programs you are interested in whether or not they meet the educational and experiential requirements for licensure. We also recommend choosing a program that is accredited through an appropriate accrediting body.

When beginning to review graduate programs, it is important to understand the structure of the program, the prerequisites needed, and the post-graduation options. Click below to get familiar with the primary options.

If you wish to be licensed and to practice as a psychologist, it is imperative to choose an APA-Accredited Program (i.e., American Psychological Association) for your doctoral studies. There are three doctoral level degrees that meet approval for licensing as a psychologist: Ph.D., Psy.D., and Ed.D.

A doctoral degree typically takes five to seven years: four years of coursework, one year of internship, and one year to write a dissertation. After earning a doctoral degree, additional supervised experience is required to obtain a license. APA offers resources for Finding and Applying to Grad School in psychology, in addition to the brief overview provided below.


The Ph.D. is the most accepted doctoral degree in the field of psychology. It is generally a research-based degree and adheres to the scientist/practitioner model first endorsed by APA. If you want the option of teaching or doing research in the field of psychology, the Ph.D. is the degree for you.


The Psy.D. is an alternative and follows a practitioner/scientist model that focuses more on practice and less on research


The Ed.D. is a doctoral program that is housed in a department of education at a university, rather than a department of psychology. About one-third of counseling psychology programs are an Ed.D. and APA-accredited. 

A master’s degree typically takes two to three years to complete and become a non-licensed counselor or social worker. However, many employers prefer to hire licensed counselors and social workers, so some professionals choose to take additional time to accrue hours of supervised experience and become licensed.

To provide general counseling in California, most individuals choose between working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). If you are interested in counseling professions and attending graduate school in the state of California, the Board of Behavioral Sciences provides a list of California graduate programs for LCSWs, LPCCs, LMFTs, and LEPs.

Many programs also offer areas of specialization that may interest you, including counseling programs with a mental health emphasis or school counseling programs with a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential to work with children.

Psychology Post-baccalaureate Programs are designed to prepare students who have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline with additional preparation for psychology-related careers. If you did not major in psychology or a related field and do not have the academic prerequisite courses for admission to a psychology graduate program, a post-baccalaureate program might be a good fit for you. However, these programs can be very costly, so consider carefully whether this option would fit with your financial situation and long-term goals.

Depending on how many prerequisite courses you need to complete, we recommend speaking with an admissions counselor about completing those courses at a community college, as this could be more cost-effective and offer more flexibility. 

Applying to Programs

As you begin preparing for applications, it is important to start early. Most applications are typically due between December and February; however, application deadlines vary for each program, so it is best to pay close attention to detail when you are exploring program options.

Once you have decided on the type(s) of graduate programs in psychology and counseling you will be applying for, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind throughout the application process. Click below to learn the details.

Some graduate programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), however, many do not. Some programs may also require the Psychology Subject GRE. Review our Entrance Exams page for starter tips and check each program’s admissions requirements to know whether exams are required or recommended.

Letters of recommendation are requested by most graduate school applications, and they are typically written by professors and employers with whom you have worked. For many graduate applications in psychology and counseling, you should obtain a letter of recommendation from at least one faculty member who can discuss your ability to do graduate level work, your research experiences, and your interest in the profession. You can also obtain a letter of recommendation from a previous or current supervisor from a clinical (or work-related) setting who can share your strengths and fit with the profession. For further considerations, read more about this on our Letters of Recommendation page.

The statement of purpose is your opportunity to convince the admissions committee that you are a qualified candidate for their graduate program.

If you are applying to a more practitioner-focused program, your statement should focus on highlighting your experience in clinical (or related) settings, counseling and helping skills, and leadership abilities. For research-oriented programs, focus on your research experiences and interests in relation to the program and faculty that you are applying for. When applying to programs that entail both research and practice, balance your personal statement to showcase your overall achievements. To begin preparing your statements, review our Essays page.

Funding and Scholarships

Graduate programs will often provide you with information about funding, loans, and scholarships that you can apply for to help finance your graduate studies. You can also look into professional associations in your field to discover additional funding and scholarship sources. For example, the American Psychological Association provides students with Sources of Funding to help students finance their graduate education in psychology. 

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