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Careers in Experimental Psychology

Learn about human behavior with a degree in experimental psychology.

man standing on city street holding broken mirror
man standing on city street holding broken mirror

Specialists who work in experimental psychology use a methodological approach to conduct experiments in controlled situations in order to examine human behavior.

These psychologists take nothing for granted as they scrutinize human responses to sensation, perception, motivation, memory, learning and physiological psychology.

Experimental Psychologists may perform the following duties:

  • Run experiments to study human behaviorism and mental phenomena
  • Study behavior processes in animals
  • Use findings to inform diagnoses and treatments for various social, behavioral and emotional disorders


Experimental psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics, the average national annual salary for psychologists is $102,900. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Work Environment

Experimental psychologists often work in private research centers and universities (where they are employed as professors), as well as nonprofit, business and government organizations. Their work is primarily focused on statistics, research and experimentation.

Training and Education

Becoming an experimental psychologist should begin with an undergraduate degree in psychology. From there, individuals are free to pursue a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree (MA or MS) in experimental psychology, or simply psychology MA and MS programs in psychology are more plentiful than programs in experimental psychology). These programs, which generally take two years to complete, will further expose students to the wide and fascinating field of psychology. However, this degree alone is not enough to enter the fiercely competitive field of experimental psychology.

Most doctorate programs (PhD) in experimental psychology require individuals to have obtained their MA or MS degree in one of the psychological fields. PhD programs can take three years or more years to complete, depending on the individual’s time frame. These programs provide students with the nuanced training and knowledge to perform their own empirical research, read data and conduct experiments.