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Areas of Specialization


Behavioral Psychology

Behavior analysts are concerned with the study of acts in their historical and situational contexts. They do basic and applied research on both animals and humans, and apply principles of behavior to a variety of settings. A behavior analyst might work as a system-level consultant for a business, as an administrator or consultant for government programs in health or human services, or as a program consultant, developer, manager, or evaluator in institutional settings such as prisons and mental retardation facilities. Behavior analysts may also be employed in academic settings. The Department of Psychology at UNR offers an M.A. and a Ph. D. in Behavior Analysis .


Biological Psychology/Biopsychology

“Biological psychology, or biopsychology, is a field in which the mind-body connection is explored through scientific research and clinical practice. Researchers in this field study the biological basis of thoughts, emotions and behaviors. To read on to learn more about this subfield of psychology, educational options and potential career, click here.


Child and Adolescent Psychology

“Clinical Child Psychology is a specialty of professional psychology which brings together the basic tenets of clinical psychology with a thorough background in child, adolescent and family development and developmental psychopathology. Clinical child and adolescent psychologists conduct scientific research and provide psychological services to infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents.

The research and practices of Clinical Child Psychology are focused on understanding, preventing, diagnosing, and treating psychological, cognitive, emotional, developmental, behavioral, and family problems of children. Of particular importance to clinical child and adolescent psychologists is a scientific understanding of the basic psychological needs of children and adolescents and how the family and other social contexts influence socio-emotional adjustment, cognitive development, behavioral adaptation, and health status of children and adolescents.

There is an essential emphasis on a strong empirical research base recognizing the need for the documentation and further development of evidence-based assessments and treatments in clinical child and adolescent psychology.” (APA)



Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems. They may act as therapists for people experiencing normal psychological crises (e.g., grief) or for individuals suffering from chronic psychiatric disorders. Some clinical psychologists are generalists who work with a wide variety of populations, while other work with specific groups like children, the elderly, or those with specific disorders (e.g., schizophrenia). They are trained in universities or professional schools of psychology. They may be found working in academic settings, hospitals, community health centers, or private practice. The Department of Psychology at UNR offers a Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology.


Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology studies how the brain works. Cognitive psychologists research and explore how the human brain controls language, thinking, decision-making, memory and information processing. To become a practicing cognitive psychologist, you must earn a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).”


Community Counseling

Community counseling involves providing psychological counseling to individuals, groups and communities with the purpose of promoting positive social change. You may work to develop community programs aimed at preventing certain problems that plague your clients' communities at large. Community counseling is a general area of professional counseling with many additional areas of career specialization available through concentrations within the degree program or other additional training.”


Community Psychology

Community psychologists are primarily concerned with research and applied, large-scale interventions upon important social issues. For example, a community psychologist might conduct research on ways to reduce the incidence of child abuse or the harmful cultural practice of tobacco smoking.


Comparative Psychology

Comparative psychology studies cover the mental development, as well as behaviors, of non-human animals. It's also sometimes defined as being the study of the mental development of species as compared to the mental development of other animals, including humans. Major themes within comparative psychology studies include adaptation and evolution, primate behavior, mating, parenting behaviors, learning and heredity.

Comparative psychology is often introduced at the undergraduate level as part of a comprehensive bachelor's program in psychology. At the master's and doctorate levels, psychology students often can choose to focus on comparative psychology. Specialized programs in the field might include courses in research design and methodology, developmental psychology, biopsychology and statistics.

Graduates of comparative psychology programs often find work in academia as instructors or researchers. They also might secure careers in industry, especially the pharmaceutical industry, in the area of research and development.”


Consulting Psychology


Consumer Psychology

“If you're interested in how and why shoppers decide to buy certain products while ignoring others, then you might enjoy the field of consumer psychology . Consumer psychologists study the motivation and decision-making processes of shoppers in both individual and social contexts. You could find work in this field by holding a degree in psychology, consumer behavior or consumer studies, among others.

Consumer psychology, as a branch of industrial-organizational psychology, is concerned with how consumers relate to the goods or services offered by various businesses and organizations. As a consumer psychologist, you might help a corporation understand how consumers will react to an advertising campaign or find ways to help consumers make informed buying choices. Consumer psychologists complete these tasks by gathering information through experiments, focus groups and surveys, then examining their data and drawing conclusions about consumer behavior.”


Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychologists do many of the same things that clinical psychologists do. However, counseling psychologists tend to focus more on persons with adjustment problems rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders. They may be trained in Psychology Departments or in Schools of Education. Counseling Psychologists are employed in academic settings, community mental health centers, and private practice.


Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists study how we develop intellectually, socially, and emotionally over the lifespan. Some focus on just one period of life (e.g., childhood or adolescence). Developmental psychologists usually do research and teach in academic settings, but many act as consultants to day care centers, schools, or social service agencies.


Educational Psychology

Educational psychologists are concerned with the study of human learning. They attempt to understand the basic aspects of learning and then develop materials and strategies for enhancing the learning process. For example, an educational psychologist might study reading and then develop a new technique for teaching reading. They are typically trained in Schools of Education and employed in academic settings.


Engineering (Human Factors) Psychology

Engineering psychologists conduct research on how people work best with machines. This specialty is also known as Human Factors Psychology and Ergonomics.


Environmental Psychology

Environmental psychologists study the effects of urban noise pollution, crowding, attitudes toward environment, and human use of space. They act as consultants for the design of industrial environments, schools, housing for elderly, and urban architecture.


Experimental Psychology

This area includes a diverse group of psychologists who do research in the most basic areas of psychology (e.g., learning, memory, cognition, perception, motivation, and language). Their research is sometimes conducted with animals instead of humans. Most of these psychologists work in academic settings.


Family Psychology

Family Psychology is a broad and general specialty in professional psychology founded on principles of systems theory with the interpersonal system of the family the focus of assessment, intervention, and research.” (APA)


Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal issues. They study the problems of crime and crime prevention, rehabilitation programs in prisons, courtroom dynamics, and psychology and law. They may also select candidates for police work.


Gender Psychology


General Psychology (Theory, History, and Philosophy)



Professional Geropsychology is a specialty in professional psychology that applies the knowledge and methods of psychology to understanding and helping older persons and their families to maintain well-being, overcome problems and achieve maximum potential during later life.  Professional geropsychology appreciates the wide diversity among older adults, the complex ethical issues that can arise in geriatric practice, and the importance of interdisciplinary models of care.” (APA)


Health Psychology

Health psychologists are concerned with psychology´s contributions to the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. They may design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and stay physically fit. They are employed in hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, academic settings, and private practice.


Human Development and Family Studies

“A family studies and human development degree program can serve as preparation for a career in child protective services, adoption placement, recreation planning, early childhood education or family counseling. Degrees are available at all educational levels, from pre-professional certificate programs to doctorates, and offer specializations like child development, family and aging.” For more information, click here .


Humanistic Psychology

Humanism is a psychological approach that emphasizes the study of the whole person. Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing the behaving.  Humanistic psychologists believe that an individual's behavior is connected to their inner feelings and self-concept.” For more information, click here  

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial/Organizational psychologists are primarily concerned with the relationships between people and their work environments. They may develop new ways to increase productivity or be involved in personnel selection. They are employed in business, government agencies, and academic settings.


Marriage and Family Therapy

“Are you good at communicating with people? Do you like challenging but emotionally rewarding work? If so, you might be interested in a career in marriage and family therapy and counseling.

Marriage and family counselors address emotional problems and issues related to the living environment of families and married couples. In the position, you will sometimes refer clients to other professionals in psychiatry or research. You should be organized and have strong communication skills in order to work as a marriage and family counselor, and should also have training in psychology, sociology and active listening techniques. You will likely work in an office setting, but you could also work on location at a clients' home.”


Mental Health Counseling

“Have you ever been so emotionally overwhelmed you've needed medical help to cope? If so, you may have been counseled by a mental health counselor. As a mental health counselor, you'll advise, educate and support people with mental health issues.

Through observations, evaluations and interviews, you'll determine the problems or issues plaguing patients. You'll work with individuals, families or groups to address mental and emotional problems and to promote mental well-being. You'll address many kinds of issues, including depression, addiction, stress, marital problems, sexual issues, grief, aging, low self-esteem and anxiety. You'll work with other professionals who may help your patients, such as psychologists, social workers, school counselors, parole officers, addictions counselors and physicians.”


Multicultural Psychology


Clinical Neuropsychology

“Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty in professional psychology that applies principles of assessment and intervention based upon the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to normal and abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. The specialty is dedicated to enhancing the understanding of brain‐behavior relationships and the application of such knowledge to human problems.” (APA)




Neuroscience  focuses on understanding the central nervous system (brain) and peripheral nervous system (spinal cord and nerves). Neuroscientists study everything from proteins and neurons (nerve cells) to memory and cognition. Neuroscientists typically hold doctoral degrees in neuroscience, neurobiology or cognitive science.

Neuroscience aims to understand the workings of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Neuroscience is subdivided into the subfields of molecular, cellular, systems and cognitive neuroscience. At the molecular level, neuroscientists study the structure and function of ion channels, neurotransmitter receptors and other protein complexes that are important to neuronal function. Cellular neuroscientists investigate the properties of neurons, the cells that are responsible for brain activity. Systems neuroscience focuses on neural circuits, which involve a large number of neurons acting in synchrony to produce a physiological effect, such as muscle movement. Cognitive neuroscientists study the biological basis of psychological phenomena, such as memory, facial recognition and emotion.”


Personality Psychology

Personality psychology  is the study of human personalities and behavioral responses. Education programs in this field are most common at the graduate level, but bachelor's degree programs in psychology may include some relevant coursework. Personality psychology degree programs provide you with the opportunity to study human character traits and behaviors. This field explores the circumstances that shape various personalities and social responses.”


Physiological Psychology

Physiological psychologists study the physiological correlates of behavior. They study both very basic processes (e.g., how brain cells function) and more readily observable phenomena (e.g., behavioral changes as a function of drug use or the biological/genetic roots of psychiatric disorders). Most are employed in academic settings.


Psychoanalytic Psychology

“Psychoanalytic psychology is a specialty of professional psychology distinguished by its body of knowledge and methods of treatment. Its theories of personality cover human development, abnormal and normal behavior, social behavior, and even artistic functioning. Cognitive processes, affective reactions, and both conscious and unconscious processes are part of its purview.

One of its most noteworthy and historically distinctive features is its focus on implementing long-term, intensive, psychotherapeutic activity, employing such interventions as dream interpretation, attention to free association, analysis of the therapist-patient relationship, and other distinctive foci in order to achieve effective character transformation. More recently, psychoanalytic intervention methods have been developed that produce short-term therapies, group therapy, marital and family therapy, and milieu therapy, all of which make use of the distinctive features of psychoanalytic theory of personality development.” (APA)




 “ Linguistics is the study of languages. Students who choose to study linguistics learn how languages change over time, how languages are related to one another and how language can be broken down into structural components, such as grammar, phonetics and syntax.

Prospective students who are enamored with language sometimes consider studying the field of Linguistics or English. Most people are aware of what pursuing a degree in English consists of, but are not quite sure what Linguistics has to offer. According to the College Board website, www.collegeboard.com, Linguistics is basically the study of languages and how these languages evolve over time. A Linguistics degree program will also cover structural components of languages that include syntax, grammar and phonetics.”



“Psychopharmacology is a proficiency in professional psychology  that involves the application of psychopharmacological principles, scientific data, and clinical practices to individual psychopathology and problems across a range of populations. It uniquely blends the scientific study of behavior, its biological basis, and the interaction of medication with the latter to produce acute and long term therapeutic changes in normal and abnormal functioning.” (APA)


Quantitative Psychology

These psychologists focus on methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing psychological data.


Rehabilitation Psychology

Rehabilitation psychologists work with stroke and accident victims, people with mental retardation, and those with developmental disabilities caused by such conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and autism.


School Counseling

“Professional school counselors  are certified/licensed educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling making them uniquely qualified to address all students’ academic, personal/social and career development needs by designing, implementing, evaluating and enhancing a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student success. Professional school counselors are employed in elementary, middle/junior high and high schools; in district supervisory positions; and counselor education positions.”


School Psychology

School psychologists are involved in enhancing the development of children in educational settings. They assess children´s psychoeducational abilities and recommend actions to facilitate student learning. They are typically trained in Schools of Education and work in public schools. They often act as consultants to parents, teachers, and administrators to optimize the learning environments of specific students.


Social Psychology

Social psychologists study how our beliefs, feelings, and behaviors are affected by other persons. Some topics of interest to social psychologists are attitude formation and change, aggression, prejudice, and interpersonal attraction. Most social psychologists work in academic settings, but some work in federal agencies and businesses doing applied research. UNR offers a multidisciplinary Ph.D. in  Social Psychology.


Sports Psychology

Sports psychologists help athletes refine their focus on competitive goals, become more motivated, and learn to deal with the anxiety and fear of failure that often accompany competition.

University of Nevada, Reno - Department of Psychology/296
1664 N. Virginia Street Reno, Nevada 89557