BY Nicole Gull McElroyMay 25, 2022, 1:15 PM
Decorative mortarboards during commencement ceremonies for Cal State University Northridge, as seen in May 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht—MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News/Getty Images)
Megan MacKellar’s patients are generally animals, as she works as an animal trainer at a zoological organization in Orlando. But, her focus shifted to humans in the three years it took her to complete an online master’s degree program in psychology from Purdue University Global. MacKellar spent about three years juggling her career in animal behavior during the day, while studying and attending online classes during nights and weekends.
“I knew I wanted to advance my education,” she says. “Where that falls into is applied behavior analysis.”
MacKellar took a few courses per term to pace herself. The shift from her work with animals to studying humans may seem odd, but the coursework at Purdue was a great complement to her day job. While MacKellar didn’t necessarily have the conventional career path in psychology, that didn’t prove to be problematic.
“The professors were so understanding,” she says. “They wanted to find ways to adapt my career into the education I was gaining.” That process, she says, even extended to her thesis. Normally, students work with human patients. Of course, for MacKellar, she focused her work on animals—a first for Purdue to take on a research project like that.
MacKellar’s story is an example of maximizing a master’s degree in psychology to expand experience and expertise in a chosen field. This graduate-level degree garners an average annual salary of nearly $64,000, compared with about about $51,000 for people who only have a bachelor’s degree, according to ZipRecruiter. Of course, salaries vary depending on specialty, experience, and type of work. By 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for psychologists will grow as much as 8%.
Beyond the career opportunities and higher salary, here’s how to decide whether an online master’s degree in psychology is worth it.
Make the most of the master’s degree by having a goal in mind
Pursuing an online master’s degree in psychology …….