Psychology is the study of how the conditions of the mind affect human behavior. It is a broad field of study that incorporates many subject areas from childhood development to social and cultural conditioning to mental illness. Thus, four-year degree will expose you to a broad range of topics in psychology. Specialization areas come later, in graduate and doctoral school. If you’re considering a bachelor’s in psychology and find yourself asking, “What will I learn with a psychology degree, exactly?”, read on for an idea of what you can expect through each year of your undergraduate studies, as well as the overall skills you will gain after completion.
Throughout your first two years of college, you will need to take courses to satisfy general education requirements. As you progress through your degree, you will be able to focus more on your major content, as well as take electives that interest you or contribute to the customization of your degree. In your first year, you can expect to take the following psychology courses:
- Introduction to psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Careers in psychology
In year two, you will begin to take a more clinical approach to psychology and have more room in your schedule for general electives. Examples of courses you may take include:
- Personality psychology
- Abnormal psychology
- Psychology testing and measurement
Year three looks more toward the human element of psychology. At this point, you will likely be taking all psychology courses with one or two general electives each semester. You may find yourself enrolled in:
- Psychology of learning
- Cognitive psychology
- Experimental psychology
- Social psychology
- Sensation and perception
- Ethical issues in psychology
Year four concludes your undergraduate studies. At this point, you will be taking advanced courses in the field. You may elect to take independent study courses. Some programs require a senior capstone course, as well. Examples of senior year psychology classes include:
- History of psychology
- Research and independent study
- Clinical practicums
What skills will I gain?
While a bachelor’s degree in psychology is not sufficient training to enter the workforce as a psychologists, the degree provides an excellent foundation for continued studies and instills a skill set in graduates that is applicable in virtually any field.
Students of psychology are trained to adeptly interpret data and technical writing. Through this exposure to scholarly papers and research, students become experienced with a wide range of statistical procedures and processes, including probability and implicit numerology. Graduates of psychology programs also exhibit a strong understanding of observational methods, survey techniques and qualitative analysis. Psychology majors also learn how to correctly measure complex processes with precision and how to successful navigate information systems to locate reference and research materials.
The set of cognitive skills pertaining to the evaluation of an argument are critical thinking skills. Psychology students are expertly trained in logic and possess the skills necessary to identify fault premises, anticipate problems and determine the negatives and positives that may arise from a given course of action. Graduates have also honed their abilities to recognize patterns in behavior and draw parallels between seemingly different situations. It is these critical thinking skills that enable psychology students to be such strong problem solvers.
Psychology majors learn about the processes of social communication and potential causes for conflict. This does not necessarily mean that psychology students themselves are social adept, but rather that they can understand the causal relationship of human interaction. This awareness can definitely lead to improvements in daily social interaction. An acute awareness of interpersonal mechanisms can also help psychology graduates to perceive solutions to social problems, as well as anticipate situations that may arise from an individual’s social conduct.
What jobs will I have?
With just a bachelor’s degree in psychology, it is not likely that you will immediately find work in the field. Only the most basic of entry-level positions in psychology are open to those who hold a bachelor’s degree, and these careers are typically low-paying. Most psychologists who practice independently have earned a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. A master’s degree in psychology or related field will open doors to positions that report to a supervisory psychologist.
However, it is easy to see that the skills gained while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology are beneficial in any line of work. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is also an excellent way for someone to determine if they wish to continue in the field before committing to more expensive graduate degree programs.
If you want to continue your studies and become a doctor of psychology, learn more about Ohio psychology resources available to you.
- Industry Outlook: 5 Careers in Clinical Psychology (psychologyeducator.wordpress.com)