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How Do I Become a Psychology Professor?

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  • Written By: Terry Masters
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 09 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Pursuing a career as a psychology professor requires keen interest in the theory and practice of psychology and enough motivation to research and write in this academic field. A desire to teach students at the college level should form the backbone of your interest in this type of position. To become a psychology professor, you will need a bachelor's degree in psychology and four or more years of post-graduate study. Permanent employment in this type of position typically requires a doctorate in psychology, with time spent as both a teaching and a research assistant.

Teaching at the university level as a member of the permanent faculty requires many years of education in your academic field. To become a psychology professor, you have to complete a bachelor's degree in psychology, which typically takes four years in a traditional academic setting, and it can take another two years to obtain a master's degree in the field. With two degrees in psychology, many schools will hire you as a contract, adjunct or temporary professor. If you want a permanent faculty position, however, you will likely need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree in psychology.

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A Ph.D in psychology will typically take you at least four years to complete. Some people skip the master's degree and go directly into a Ph.D program after obtaining a bachelor's. In either case, to become a psychology professor, you will need to spend at least five and possibly more than 10 years pursuing your education in a university setting.

Obtaining a Ph.D requires a certain number of hours spent as a teaching assistant. In this position, you hone your skills working with students. You will also be required to hold one or more positions as a research assistant, working directly with a permanent faculty member on psychology research projects at one or more of your degree levels.

To qualify for a Ph.D, you will have to complete a written dissertation. Often, the quality of your dissertation will determine your employment prospects after graduation. To become a psychology professor after you have completed your Ph.D, you would apply to colleges and universities with open faculty positions; you would qualify after the Ph.D program has been completed.

The likelihood that a particular college or university will hire you depends on a number of factors. Your academic record plays a part, as well as how successfully you interview for the position. Most importantly, your specific area of interest within the general field of psychology will be a significant factor in your employability. Schools often look for faculty members who hold the most promise of being prominent in their field and those who plan to specialize in academic areas that the school wants to explore. If you want the best chance to become a psychology professor, write your dissertation on an issue within the psychology field that looks like it is gaining notoriety and will be an area of interest for schools in the upcoming decade.

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