What can I do with a Psychology major?
The knowledge and skills you’ll gain as a Psychology major are broadly relevant to any career where you need to understand and interact with other people. Students with training in psychology go on to a wide variety of careers in areas like helping business and organizations, helping people improve their lives, promoting health, protecting the planet, serving communities, working in schools, and understanding the world around us.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about majoring in psychology is that psych majors go on to become psychologists (see Becoming a Psychologist, below). In fact, most psych majors go on to careers outside of psychology. To get a sense of career options outside of psychology for students with a psychology degree, have a look at this page from the American Psychological Association: Careers with a bachelor’s degree in psychology – An interview series. Here’s a blog post from the American Psychological Association describing how you can leverage the knowledge and skills you acquire as a psych major to improve your job prospects: The skillful psychology student – Skills you will need to succeed in the 21st-Century workplace
According to the American Psychological Association, career choices popular with psychology graduates include:
- Sales (20%)
- Professional services (17%)
- Management / supervision (16%)
- Teaching (11%)
- Accounting / finance / contracts (9%)
- Employee relations (5%)
- Research (3%)
Here’s an article by the well-known scholar of the teaching of psychology, Eric Landrum, summarizing the career choices for psychology majors: What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology? Like this title, the actual answer is complicated
For our current majors wanting to better understand how their major might help them, here’s an article from the APA: Preparing to Use Your Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Becoming a psychologist
For a career in which you’ll use the title “psychologist”, you’ll need intensive, focused training beyond the Bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree. That means going on to graduate school to earn either a Master’s or Doctoral degree. Most Master’s degrees take two to three years to complete. Doctoral degrees take four to six years (and you earn the Master’s along the way).
If this is your goal, discuss this with your academic advisor, ideally around the start of your junior year. They’ll help you decide what sort of graduate programs you should apply to and what kinds of experiences you should pursue while at Shepherd to help strengthen your application.
When considering options, keep in mind that “psychology” isn’t just one thing. Our field is made up of many sub-fields that include different aspects of human behavior. Here’s a sample list from the American Psychological Association: Psychology Subfields.
The employment outlook for psychologists is excellent, particularly for those interested in working in the schools as counselors or school psychologists. Here’s some information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about careers in psychology: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm