Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. It has helped understand various mental disorders and how they can be treated. From Alzheimer’s to stress, psychology has helped doctors develop treatments to alleviate symptoms of such illnesses and conditions. The principles of psychology can be applied in many areas of life including education, health, employment, etc.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth for psychologists is expected to be 12% (faster than average) from 2012-2022. There are many challenging careers that can be pursued with a degree in psychology. The field of psychology has many sub-branches including child psychology, occupational psychology, abnormal psychology, behavioral psychology, and more.
- Is psychology for you?
- Psychology schools
- What will you study?
- Online schools for psychology
- Career prospects
When choosing psychology as a major, you might want to make sure you have opted for the right path. Here are some benefits of preparing for a career in psychology:
- You will be able to help people on a daily basis
- You will get a sense of self-achievement
- The working schedule may be flexible
- You will get to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life
- You will better understand the society and its functioning
- The career will allow you to become more insightful
- You may be able to make a decent living
If you plan to become a psychologist, you will need to earn a doctoral degree. However, there are some occupations in psychology that only require a master’s degree. Numerous schools all across the nation are offering degree programs in psychology.
Whether you are looking for an undergraduate program in psychology or a graduate program, make sure you select an accredited school. Accreditation reflects the institute’s compliance with educational standards set by the Higher Education Commission. The school should be regionally accredited and programmatically accredited. The American Psychological Association (APA) is a leading organization that accredits and approves psychology programs. You can also opt for online colleges for psychology if on-campus studies are not feasible for you.
If you have just completed high school and wish to prepare for a career in psychology, you can go for a bachelor’s degree in the field. More advanced degrees such as the master’s in psychology or doctoral degree in psychology are also offered. The degree programs have been described in detail below:
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
In this four year undergraduate program, you develop a strong foundation in general psychology. The coursework will introduce you to fundamental concepts of psychology, its applications, and use in different fields. Alongside theory, the program will help polish your communication skills, critical-thinking skills, and other skills needed for a career. Here are some of the subjects covered in the program:
- General psychology
- History and systems in psychology
- Motivational process in human psychology
- Biological foundations in psychology
- Statistical reasoning in psychology
- Life span human development
- Learning and cognition
- Theories of personality
Master of Science in Psychology
This is an advanced degree that takes around two years to complete. Students will delve into more detail on subjects studied during their undergraduate studies. The coursework will help students learn about the multiple facets of psychology, problem-solving, and research. Students will be introduced to advanced concepts of psychology and its clinical use. The coursework will entail a number of different courses such as the following:
- Individual evaluation and assessment
- Cross-cultural psychology
- Research design
- Human growth and development
- Behavioral neuroscience
- Psychological aspects of treating diseases
- Adult psychopathology
In the end of the program, students may be required to complete a research project. It is important for students to gain hands on experience and apply what they have learnt through practical research and field work.
Doctoral Degree in Psychology
This is the highest degree program offered in psychology. The main objective of the program is to train graduates for roles as psychologists in clinical areas. Students will acquire scholarly knowledge, build advanced skills, conduct research, and develop a dissertation by the end of the program. The coursework will cover a range of topics that will help build core competencies and a knowledge base. Here are some of the courses covered:
- Social bases of behavior
- Cognitive and affective bases of behavior
- Personality change
- History of psychology
- Ethics in professional psychology
It can take anywhere from 4 to 8 years to complete the program, depending on the school.
In graduate and post-graduate programs, students can pick an area for specialization. There are many branches of psychology that one can choose from. This will provide students with specialized skills and knowledge. Some of the popular choices for specializations include:
- Abnormal psychology – focuses on disorders that lead to abnormal behavior
- Behavioral psychology – focuses on behavior and theory of learning
- Developmental psychology – covers the development of beings from childhood to adulthood
- Forensic psychology – focuses on issues related to psychology and law
If you don’t want to or can’t enroll in a traditional college, consider getting your degree from an online psychology school. Psychology degree programs are being offered by many online colleges. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to study online. The coursework is covered through tutorials, online lectures, and conferencing.
If you plan to practice psychology, you will need a license, in most states. Your area of work and income will basically depend on your specialization, education, and skills. Many psychologists can be found working in the healthcare sector, education sector, and social assistance sector. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists made a median annual income of $69,280 in 2012.