Advertiser disclosure

Psychology Major Overview

Psychology is one of the most popular majors at the moment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it ranked 4th highest in the number of bachelor degrees conferred in 2016-17. It’s not hard to figure out why it’s so high in demand. After all, who wouldn’t want to learn about what makes people tick? Let’s talk about how to figure out if psychology is the right major for you.

What is a psychology major?

Psychology is the science of the mind and behavior. As a psychology major, you’ll study how the brain works and what factors influence human thoughts, feelings and decisions. You may earn Bachelor of Arts (BA) or you could earn a Bachelor of Science (BS).

A BA leans more heavily toward humanities, while a BS focuses more on math and science courses. For that reason, BAs typically lend themselves to fields like social work or criminal justice. BS earners, on the other hand, will be better prepared for more specialized scientific concentrations like clinical or forensic psychology.

Coursework to expect

Throughout your degree, you’ll likely be able to take a lot of engaging, thought-inducing courses. In fact, many students choose to study psychology to learn about interesting topics like mental health and child development. However, you’ll also need to fulfill some general education requirements.

For example, at Tufts University, students are required to fulfill a statistics course, as well as two approved advanced courses in related fields. On top of that, they can choose from a selection of psychology courses including:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology of Adolescence
  • Theories of Personality
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Emotion
  • Physiology and Psychology
  • Animal Learning and Cognition
  • Perception
  • Human Neuropsychology

Opportunities after graduation

Psychology has become known as a program that requires a master’s or a doctorate in order to be employable. This reputation may intimidate incoming freshmen who want to keep their options open post-graduation. In reality, there are plenty of career opportunities to pursue without a graduate degree, and even more with one. Let’s talk about some of the potential career options for psychology graduates.

If you want to pursue your passion for psychology long-term, you’ll probably want to go on to earn a higher degree in the field. However, there are still plenty of career opportunities for students with an undergraduate degree. These include:

  • Human resources assistant
  • Public relations assistant
  • Market research analyst

If you go on to pursue another degree, you’ll be qualified for a host of other psychology-related jobs. These include:

  • School counselor
  • Psychiatrist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Experimental psychologist

Jobs you can get with a psychology degree

1. Psychologists

Psychologists study and treat the human mind. You could work as an experimental psychologist to conduct studies and gather data. You could also provide therapy to individuals to help them work through trauma, mental illness, and more.

2020 Median Pay: $82,180 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 8% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists work with couples and families to help work through problems and create more cohesion.

2020 Median Pay: $51,340 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 16% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide a variety of services to those in need. These are typically counseling-based positions. They can include social workers, psychologists, and more. They can help support, rehabilitate, and counsel clients.

2020 Median Pay: $35,960 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029):17% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

4. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

These positions provide counseling for people with mental disorders, drug problems, and behavioral issues.

2020 Median Pay: $47,660 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 23% (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

5. Psychiatric technicians and aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides help support the operations of psychiatric wards and hospitals. You’ll work with patients and ensure the facilities are in working order.

2020 Median Pay: $33,140 per year
Projected Growth (2019-2029): 13% (Faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Also read: What is the average starting salary out of college?

How do I know if the major is right for me?

If you’re considering a major in psychology, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you highly interested in the way people think?
  • Can you maintain your mental health while dealing with heavy subject matter?
  • Do you enjoy working with people?
  • Would you like to learn more about the human mind?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then a psychology major could be right for you!

For help deciding what to study, read How To Pick a Major. And for help financing your degree, check out our scholarship search tool!