This is a strongly research oriented field and will appeal to those interested in human psychology per se. Understanding the link between the brain and human behavior is what is at the foundation of this subject. According to the American Psychological Association, “experimental psychology examines the underpinnings of human and animal behavior.” “Experimental psychologists use empirical research methods to explore and better understand behavior.”(www.apa.org/action/science/experimental/).
Although psychologists practicing in the various fields of psychology can be considered ‘experimental’ as they too explore behavior, experimental psychologists are continual researchers, and do not necessarily become practitioners. The scientific data arising out of such research can be applied to help improve anything from transport systems to workplace safety. Career options include working in mental health, teaching and counselling, among others.
The University of Sussex runs a one year full time M.Sc. in Experimental Psychology. This course gives students a strong foundation in all areas of psychology, including the philosophical and ethical perceptions of the discipline. As mentioned earlier, students will be expected to submit a dissertation in whatever field is their focus of interest.
An option for students with an inclination towards research and a career in academia is the M.Sc. by Research in Experimental Psychology offered by the University of Oxford. As the name suggests, the route to this degree is via independent research within a group or lab. This is a two year programme, at the end of which students submit a 50,000 – word thesis.
The University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences has a Graduate Program in Experimental Psychology. A Ph.D. program, this requires applicants to have some previous experience in research, and “emphasizes integration across multiple areas of experimental psychology to further psychological science.” (www.psych.sc.edu/experimental/overview) The earlier part of the course looks at the basics in neuroscience, such as cognitive and developmental psychology, for example, with research being a part of the program from the very beginning. On obtaining their Ph.D. students typically end up working in academia or at a research institute.
Central Michigan University – College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, also offers an M.Sc. in Experimental Psychology as part of its Graduate Program, with the main emphasis on research. It lays the foundation for students to continue with doctoral research, as the program has been designed in a composite manner, although you are not obliged to continue to a Ph.D.