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Should I Major In Psychology

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Is Graduate School Right For You

Should I major in psychology?

Considering the high cost of many graduate programs, the decision to pursue an advanced degree should not be made lightly. Baker advises against using graduate school to explore career paths or to delay entering the workforce. She suggests taking a gap year to build skills and gain work experience, which will help clarify your career goals.

“The cost of an advanced degree should be seen as an investment in one’s career and passion,” Baker said. “If attending graduate school will help a person get to where they want to be professionally, then easily it is worth the cost.”

Lastly, it is important to remember that each state has its own requirements for psychologist licensure, and you should research the requirements for the state where you plan to work before deciding whether to pursue a master’s or doctorate.

Psychology Is A Diverse Field

One objection to this field of study is the perceived notion that psychology majors cant find jobs. Psychology is often thought of as a helping profession, but in fact, many psychologists never hold a private practice!

As I said in the beginning of this post, psychology is a diverse field: where there are people, there is a career for psychology majors. Many with psychology degrees find jobs in businesses, schools, or the military. They may seek higher education and become neuroscientists, psychiatrists, or other similar medical practitioners.

Job titles for psychology majors may include, but arent limited to:

  • Counselor

  • Human Resources representative

The Bachelors Degree In Counseling

As with the undergraduate degree in psychology, the Bachelors in Counseling can provide the foundation for the masters or doctorate as well as provide the 4-year degree increasingly required by employers. The majority of these opportunities will be entry-level positions. Unlike the degree in psychology, the Bachelors in Counseling is a relatively new major. Societal perception of the skills and proclivities which accompany the holder of an undergraduate degree in counseling is still in the formative stages.

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Overview Of The Psychology Major

Most of the course requirements for undergraduate psychology majors are science-based, so expect to take some form of biology, physics, and chemistry. However, these probably wont be as intensive as courses for majors in the hard sciences. As a social science major, you should also expect to take classes in the fields of linguistics, philosophy, or sociology. These provide complementary subject material that can better inform your knowledge of a subject.

Core psychology courses usually include topics like developmental, behavioral, social, and cognitive psychology. Curriculum also usually involves an introductory statistics course and possibly a research methods course. As you progress through college, courses become more specialized. You might take courses on psychology as it relates to relationships, media, or education.

Psychology classes are usually large, even at the upper division level. This is because there are a lot of students with that major, although this probably doesnt hold true at smaller universities. Classes are usually lecture-based, although larger schools might accompany these with weekly discussion for a smaller, more intimate learning environment. You might take some laboratory courses as well.

There are many more schools that are great for psychology majors. See the complete list of best colleges for psychology.

Less Typical Careers With A Psychology Degree

Should I major in Psychology?

As a psychology graduate at bachelor level, there are thousands of opportunities for you outside healthcare and educational roles if you know where to look. This is due to the varied transferable skills you gain from your degree, as well as widespread recognition of the advantages of having psychological and analytical expertise. In broad terms, psychology graduates can be found working in all sectors of society, including media, criminal justice and rehabilitation, advertising, business and management, sports, public agencies and the legal sector. Some less typical careers with a psychology degree are outlined below

Media and advertising careers

It might not be an obvious choice for psychology graduates, but media careers are varied, with ample opportunities to apply the skills a psychology degree will hone. Psychology graduates can impart valuable insights into human behavior, as well as offering the ability to analyze problems, listen attentively, give considered responses and act with empathy and reason. Because of this, media roles within all departments including management, production, scheduling and writing are well within reach for psychology graduates.

Human resources and communications careers

Business and management careers

A psychology degree may also provide a good basis for careers in IT, finance, the legal sector, government administration and market research.

What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree? is part of our What Can You Do With series.

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Careers You Might Not Expect

In fact, people with psychology majors succeed in all sorts of careers, most of which dont directly involve studying the mind.

But First: About Cross-majors

Knowing a thing or two about the way the mind works is definitely a plus. But again, the reason psychology opens doors to the careers below is because of the skills you gain, not always because of what you studied.

Specialized knowledge is required for several of these jobs. You may need a second major or minor or an advanced degree to pursue many of these careers. The skills you gained studying psychology complement your specialized study, setting you apart.

1. Social Worker

This is an incredibly broad title that could refer to many different types of social service work. Social workers are often referred to as case managers, because they take on an individual or familys diverse needs as a case and connect these clients with resources . When licensed, social workers often take on roles similar to mental health counselors themselves.

2. Teacher or Trainer

Although you need an education degree to teach in a public school, there are many teaching or training roles that psychology will help prepare you for. Teachers in religious environments, for example, dont always need to be licensed. And a psychology major can provide an excellent knowledge base to go into new hire training in a government or corporate setting.

3. Childcare Worker

4. Ministry Professional

5. Human Resources Specialist

7. Law Enforcement Officer

Psychology Careers With A Masters Degree

While most students in masters degree programs for psychology go on to pursue a PhD or PsyD , some do enter the field with a masters degree. A masters degree, though it may not be required for a career in psychology, could improve opportunities for and increase the competitiveness of candidates applying for jobs in the field. A masters in psychology might increase ones chances of being hired and enhance ones effectiveness in the following areas:

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How Much Does A Psychologist Make

The salary for a psychologist depends on many factors, including the type of psychology practiced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that US psychologists in the all other category made a median of $97,740 per year, while industrial-organizational psychologists earned $87,100 and clinical, counseling-psychology, and school psychologists made $75,090 per year.22 The pay for psychologists also includes a broad range, according to the BLS, with the top 10% of psychologists earning $124,520 or more and the bottom 10% earning less than $42,330 per year.22 Other factors that may impact psychologist salary include geographical location, years of experience, and type of practice.

The Bachelors Degree In Psychology

Majoring In Psychology: 5 tips every psychology major needs to know

An undergraduate degree in psychology can either be used to transition into a Masters/Doctoral program or to meet the degree requirements often found in private business and government employment sectors. In other words, if the job requires a bachelors degree, this will suffice.

For the most part, society views a person with a Bachelors in Psychology as having certain insights and business acumen with regards to human thought and behavior. The positions available in most every public or private institution will be entry-level, and one may or may not be able to rise to higher pay scales and levels of responsibility.

Mitchell D. Thomas from Fort Smith, Arkansas graduated with a B.A. in psychology and experienced the following

My bachelors in psychology did not automatically make me a candidate for high-paying jobs in the mental health industry. Once I realized I would need at least a masters to do what I wanted to do, I decided to get a sales job where I could get paid according to sales volume. I never thought Id like a job like this, but I do. I am probably going to go back to school eventually–I know I will need to do that to apply for jobs I want.

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Do You Enjoy Taking Psychology Classes

  • Yes
  • No

This first one seems fairly obvious, but the first thing you need to consider is whether or not psychology is something you really love. As a psychology major, you will be taking a wide range of classes covering many different subjects, including personality, development, research methods, and cognition.

If the answer is a resounding yes, then majoring in psychology is definitely something you should consider. If you cannot answer yes to this question, then it might be time to start exploring some alternative subjects that might spark your interest more.

Salary Can Be A Concern

One of the biggest misunderstandings among students planning on majoring in psychology is that they expect to start making big bucks immediately after earning their undergraduate degree. Yes, there is certainly the potential to earn a high salary in certain fields. Are those wages the norm? No, and especially not for those without a doctorate degree.

The reality is that there are many professions within psychology that are low- to mid-salary. Actual salaries depend on a wide variety of factors, including the specialty area you choose, the sector in which you work, where you choose to live, and the degree and experience level you have. The lowest paying careers on the spectrum might pay around $20,000 a year, while those on the highest end might pay over $250,000 per year.

One advantage of a psychology degreestrong predicted job outlook. Demand for psychologists is expected to grow at a rate faster than the average for all careers over the next decade.

If the salary is one of your greatest motivations for majoring in psychology, you need to spend some time carefully researching some of the high-paying options.

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Do You Enjoy Helping People

  • Yes
  • No

Part of the reason that many people are drawn to psychology is the helping nature of the profession. While there are many different fields of psychology , one of the major goals of this field is to solve real-world problems and help people lead better lives.

There are a number of growing psychology fields, such as industrial-organizational psychology and engineering psychology, that do not center directly on helping individuals, but clinical psychology remains the single largest subfield within psychology. If you do enjoy helping other people and assisting those who are dealing with mental health issues sounds like a rewarding career, then psychology might be right up your alley.

If you really dislike the idea of working directly with people, you should certainly consider some other options before committing to a psychology major program.

Psychology Careers With A Doctorate Degree

Should I major in psychology?

The vast majority of students obtaining a PhD in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology will go on to practice as a clinical psychologist or will teach the subject at a university. Conducting independent research projects in psychology, procuring a license as a counselor, or treating patients in a clinical capacity as a psychologist requires a doctorate in the form of either a PhD or PsyD.

Duties

Psychologists have a wide range of duties, with the ultimate goal of helping their clients better understand themselves and their environments. The American Psychological Association notes that they are also scientists who follow basic scientific principles in their work. Specifically, psychologists might observe, interview, survey and/or test their clients. Some of their specific duties include:

  • Studying a clients behavior through scientific studies and finding patterns
  • Helping clients change their behavior
  • Diagnosing disorders
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Prescribing medicine for psychological disorders
  • Developing programs for schools, companies and workplaces
  • Collaborating with other professionals, such as social workers or physicians
  • Testing theories of behavior
  • Gathering information through controlled laboratory experiments

Work Schedules

Licensure Requirements for Psychologists

To find out more about licensure requirements for psychologists in your state, click on your state on our How to Become a Psychologist page.

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You Understand Personality Traits And Individual Differences

Psychology majors learn about trait theories of personality such as the Big 5 starting in introductory psychology. Knowing an evidence-based framework of major traits gives psychology majors an advantage in understanding how people behave and how they differ. For example, if you are leading a group project and you have a task that requires close attention to detail, you would select the person highest on conscientiousness for that task. Tasks that require innovation and creativity call for openness. Group members high in neuroticism need continued reassurance. There are, of course, many influential traits that psychology majors can learn about in a personality class. To encourage additional learning about this superpower, I provided a link to Ken Carters TED talk on sensation seeking behavior.

What Do Psych Majors Learn

As an undergraduate, you can expect to learn key psychological concepts, human behavior and research methods. Your classes will help you develop the critical thinking skills you need to communicate effectively. More specifically, youll take a variety of general education courses in English, math, science and the humanities as well as courses in your major. Youll also be able to choose from a wide range of electives.

You may wonder, Is psychology a hard major? You might find classes to be rigorous and writing-intensive, but, to be successful, you must be able to write a paper and argue ones point of view effectively, according to Dr. Thomas MacCarty, associate dean of social sciences at SNHU.

At some universities, you can choose concentrations within your major to prepare you for a specific career path or graduate study. Here are a few concentrations that allow you to learn more about a specific area of psychology:

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You Have Scientific Literacy

Scientific literacy is the use of scientific principles as a way to establish knowledge and make decisions. Psychology students have more instruction in scientific literacy than students in natural science fields . Psychology majors are taught the strengths and weaknesses of various scientific methods such as surveys, naturalistic observation, and experiments. Every psychology major knows that correlation is not causation because it is taught in so many psychology classes. The value of scientific literacy was made clear during the COVID-19 pandemic as people tried to make sense of various studies. Understanding concepts such as internal and external validity, quasi-experiments, confounds, and replication, all of which are covered in research methods courses, was incredibly valuable for negotiating the pandemic in the safest possible way. As an example of the value of scientific literacy, I suggested the video, Interrogating a Causal Claim by Beth Morling.

Similarities Between Sociology And Psychology Degrees

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE MAJORING IN PSYCHOLOGY

As they are both liberal arts degrees in research-based humanitarian fields, there is some overlap in the fields of sociology vs. psychology. Both academic programs require a well-rounded undergraduate education in addition to specific courses, as well as an introduction to research and statistical gathering and analysis. Both fields typically require a masters or PhD to work in research or teach in a post-secondary setting yet both also offer numerous entry-level job opportunities to bachelors degree holders.

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Its A Solid Foundation For Graduate Work

A Bachelor of Science in Psychology can be a launch pad for your masters or PhD. About 25% of psychology baccalaureates attend graduate school in psychology, according to the American Psychological Association. Others switch to a related field, such as sociology, counseling, or education.

Ready to dive deeper into what makes humans tick? ACU Onlines B.S. in Psychology degree provides you with an in-depth understanding of human behavior. Youll also learn history, theory, concepts, and skills in the application of psychology to industrial, clinical, and other settings. Whether youre seeking immediate career options or want a solid foundation for graduate school, a B.S. in Psychology from ACU can lead you into a rewarding future.

Give us a call at 855-219-7300 or visit acu.edu/online to learn more.

Focus On The Theories

As previously mentioned, psychology is a sciencea relatively new one at thatand therefore there arent many things that everyone agrees on. Like all sciences, Psychology uses the scientific method: observing, hypothesizing, testing, theorizing. As theories are developed, evaluated, and refined, psychologists better understand the human mind and are able to apply this knowledge to their specific field of work. Psychology students study the theories resulting from the scientific method of research.

Therefore its crucial to understand:

  • who some of the foundational theorists were,

  • what they theorized,

  • and how its been tested.

For instance, Freud, Pavlov, and Erickson were groundbreaking in their particular views of the human mind and behavior. Their theories will come up in almost every psychology course you take, so be sure to understand their theories thoroughly and early in your studiesyoull thank yourself later!

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How Do You Write A Psychology Summary

Summarize the key points of the study. In the rationale section, summarize the purpose for the study, why the researchers thought it was important and how they felt it would add to the existing literature on the subject. If the study included hypotheses, list the precise hypotheses that were stated in the paper.

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