What marketable skills does a degree in psychology offer?
Psychology is distinctive in that it equips its graduates with an extremely rich and diverse portfolio while providing a variety of forms of expertise which can prepare psychology graduates to undertake many different types of work. For example, specific skills include:
- Literacy: clear, concise writing
- Numeracy: analyzing, interpreting data
- Computer literacy: word processing, data analysis
- Information-finding skills: using databases
- Research skills: expertise in gathering information about human/animal behavior
- Measurement skills: psychometric measurement, questionnaire design
- Environmental awareness: knowledge of how the environment can influence social behavior
- Interpersonal awareness: understanding of the self, interaction with others
- Problem-solving skills: apply different strategies and approaches to understanding problems
- Critical evaluation: evaluate theories and arguments
- Perspectives: ability to examine issues from multiple points of view
What is the difference between a B.A. and a B.S. in psychology?
The B.A. in Psychology is a liberal arts major that provides broad exposure to the history, theories, research methods and practical applications of contemporary psychology. The B.A.’s relative flexibility lets you pursue courses both within and beyond the discipline. The B.A. requires a foreign language and a capstone experience such as an advanced seminar, independent research or an applied internship.
The B.S. in Psychology is more specialized with an added emphasis in mental health or developmental psychology. For example, for the B.S. in Psychology–Mental Health Option, students take specialized courses in Community Mental Health and Techniques of Psychotherapy, and complete a practicum in a mental health setting. For the B.S. in Psychology–Developmental Option, students take specialized courses focusing on developmental issues across the lifespan such as Prenatal and Infant Development, Adolescent Psychology and Adulthood and Aging. In addition, students complete an internship in an applied setting. There is no foreign language requirement for the B.S.
What do graduate schools look for when admitting students?
Most graduate programs are looking for applicants with strong academic standing who possess a wide range of personal characteristics, acquired skills and intellectual abilities. Specifically, the important characteristics are:
- Motivated and hardworking
- Emotionally stable and mature
- Capable of working well with others
- Strong character and integrity
- intellectually independent
- Possess leadership ability
- Strong area of knowledge
- Capable of analytical thought
To pursue a graduate degree, students should make a concerted effort to work closely with a faculty member, develop these specific skills and abilities (e.g., learn SPSS, take public speaking and writing courses), conduct their own independent research, and/or complete an undergraduate practicum.
To what graduate schools should I apply?
The answer to this question depends on your career goals. There are several career options for psychologists, including clinical (therapist of some sort), applied (industrial/organizational) and experimental. Of course, some of our majors continue their education in other areas (see above). If you are interested in furthering your education in psychology but are not interested in working in a clinical setting you should look for an experimental or applied graduate program.
- Experimental. These programs generally prepare you for a career in higher education, which involves teaching, conducting research and advising students.
- Applied. Applied fields include areas such as industrial and organizational psychology (I-O psych.). The focus of industrial and organizational psychology is on human resource research in employee selection, training, related aspects of individual differences and organizational behavior..
- Clinical. Many people think the only way to be a therapist is to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. This is only one option. It is the most difficult option and, for many students, it is unrealistic. In fact, it is easier to get into medical school than it is to get into a clinical Ph.D. program. To become a therapist, a better option might be: masters in social work (M.S.W.), masters in counseling psychology, or a Psy.D. program.