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Originally Posted On: https://www.ndnu.edu/is-psychology-a-good-major/
Is Psychology a Good Major?
According to the latest study by the American Psychological Association (APA), around 3.5 million people in the United States hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Of those, around 14% also hold a graduate degree in the field.
Are you thinking about becoming a psychology major yourself?
This can be an incredibly rewarding and challenging career path, allowing you to connect with others on a personal, transformative level. The services you offer could give patients greater insight into how they think, feel, and act.
As you decide your course of study, it helps to know what to expect. Today, what a degree in psychology would entail, and how to know if it’s right for you.
What Does a Psychology Major Require?
Psychology is the study of human behavior and mental processes. As a psychology major, you’ll take courses that study the human mind, brain, and interactions.
The psychology major coursework you complete can prepare you for a graduate-level program in a variety of different fields, from psychology and education to medicine, business, or law.
While each University will have its own course requirements, most of your introductory classes will focus on the basics of psychology. This can include research and statistical methods, as well as lab courses.
In your labs, you’ll learn how to conduct research and design experiments, as well as observe, measure, and analyze human behavior.
NDNU School of Psychology
At the NDNU School of Psychology, we offer two distinct programs in psychology. This includes:
- Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology, offered in partnership with the San Mateo County Community College District
- Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (M.S.) with emphases in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and Marriage and Family Therapy and Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling (MFT/LPCC)
Our B.A. in Psychology offers students opportunities to hone their skills both inside and outside the classroom. In addition to class work, you’ll also participate in individual research as well as community-based learning.
As you become well-versed in all of the major areas of psychology, you’ll also develop your analytical skills. You’ll study and analyze all dimensions of human behavior, including:
Students who graduate from our programs go on to enjoy fulfilling careers in a variety of disciplines, becoming counselors, therapists, mental health professionals, and more!
Reasons to Become a Psychology Major
While psychology can be an enriching major, it isn’t the right path for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why students choose to go into this field.
If these reasons appeal to you, then this could be a viable option for your academic future!
You Can Make a Difference
Of course, the top reason why most people choose to major in psychology is that they’re naturally driven to help others. The more you study and learn about human behavior, the more empathetic and understanding you will become.
As you help individuals work through their issues, you form a meaningful relationship with them which can facilitate their growth and provide them valuable coping skills to improve their quality of life. The patients you interact with on a regular basis may be struggling with mental health issues, or simply want to improve their lives and well-being.
The therapeutic relationship helps people change ingrained patterns and ways of being that help to improve their lives. However, it’s important to realize that in giving so much of yourself, this job can be emotionally draining at times. Psychologists, therapists, counselors, and mental health professionals must also learn how to prioritize their own mental health and self-care to avoid experiencing burnout.
You Enjoy Learning About Science
Has science always been one of your favorite subjects in school? If so, you may want to consider majoring in psychology!
While this discipline centers on human connection, it’s a science at the core. After all, one of a mental health professional’s main roles is to make a hypothesis about what a patient might be struggling with, and then carefully test that hypothesis.
Then, they can present the results to add knowledge, answer questions, and recommend viable ways forward. While this sounds like a straightforward process, the reality is that psychological research and clinical work can often be complicated and nuanced.
Human behavior isn’t clear-cut, and you may have to explore and understand diverse disciplines and perspectives to understand and help another which other scientists don’t have to contend with. Still, the road to an answer can be fascinating if this type of data analysis interests you.
The Job Prospects Are Rich
Competent, well-educated psychologists, therapists and counselors are always in high demand. This degree can put you on a job path that includes many exciting, diverse professions. Some of the most common titles for careers in psychology include:
- School psychologist
- Substance abuse counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
- Clinical counselor
- Clinical mental health counselor
- Mental health therapist
- Clinical psychologist
- Child psychologist
- Social worker
- Behavior analyst
As you acquire your psychology degree, you’ll also learn a host of soft skills that can be incredibly useful in almost any industry. From leadership and teamwork to empathy and communication skills, these abilities can help you secure a position in business, marketing, administration, and more.
It Can Be a Graduate School Foundation
If you have your sights set on attending graduate school, psychology can be a great undergraduate degree to obtain.
Many students who major in psychology go on to get their master’s degrees or even their doctoral degrees in the field. You could also use a B.A. in Psychology to launch a successful graduate program in medicine, law, business, or social sciences.
You Can Explore Your Interests
Psychology can be a way to deeply explore the fields of study that interest you the most. For instance, if you love children and enjoy working with them, then you may want to consider working in early child development.
If you’re passionate about learning the ins and outs of the human brain, you can dive into neuropsychology. If you’re curious about social constructs and how they inform behavior, you can go into an area of social psychology. If your passion is helping families and couples, you can focus on marriage and family counseling. Students who are interested in helping people with mental illnesses or behavioral disorders may choose to work as marriage and family therapists, clinical counselors, and clinical psychologists.
In other words, whatever you’re interested in studying, you can find a career in psychology that lets you nurture that interest. Psychologists are even needed in the sports field!
The Income Potential Is High
Most people who enter the field of psychology do so because they truly want to help others and make a difference. However, it is smart to think about the type of salary you could earn in your position.
As the sector of psychology is so broad and vast, there isn’t quantifiable data to help you predict exactly what type of salary you can expect. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median pay for a psychologist is $81,040 per year or around $38.96 per hour. Mental health professionals can earn considerably more or less than that depending on their specialty and position.
One of the best things about working in this field is job security. Given the flexible nature of the work and the broad application of your talents, you can rest assured that your skill set will always be in demand! This allows you to consider your options and job offers more strategically, to ensure you’re making the right decision for your future.
Qualities of a Psychology Major
If you’re thinking about majoring in psychology, it helps to know the types of qualities and personality traits that successful students in this field tend to share.
Of course, this list doesn’t apply to everyone, and it isn’t exhaustive. These are simply the most common ones that most students exhibit.
Excellent Problem-Solving Skills
Are you someone who shies away from a challenge? Or, do you face it head-on? If problems motivate you and you feel driven to solve them, then you may be a great fit for this major.
One of the top requirements for therapists, counselors, and psychologists is the ability to take a complex problem and dig deeply to the root of it.
This might mean helping a married couple understand why there’s conflict in their relationship. Or, it may mean working with a grade-schooler to uncover the source of their tension and anxiety. You could work with someone who’s struggling with an addiction, trying to help them work through emotions and process them in a healthier way.
People are complicated, and their issues can be difficult to figure out. As a therapist, counselor, or psychologist, it will be your job to understand the motives behind their behaviors, using strategies that emerge from disciplines ranging from philosophy to statistics.
Relatedness and Strong Communication
Mental health professionals need to be able to relate to a wide variety of people and clearly communicate with the individuals they’re working with. Therapists, counselors, and psychologists generally enjoy interacting with others and are energized by this kind of work. Depending on the niche you choose, a significant portion of your job could be spent listening and engaging with others, but this is an equally critical part of communication.
Someone who’s perfected the art of relating to others, including the skill of active listening may enjoy the process of absorbing information and using it to make a decision. Some aspects of active listening include staying engaged in the conversation, maintaining good eye contact, using non-verbal cues (like nodding), and asking open-ended questions to spur further dialogue.
Communication is a cornerstone of psychology. If you aren’t quite there yet, take heart! You’ll have plenty of time to strengthen this skill during your undergraduate or graduate program.
Would you consider yourself to be an empathetic person? Put simply, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else.
Beyond active listening, it means truly putting yourself in the person’s shoes and trying to imagine how their situation must feel for them. Therapists, counselors, and psychologists who are naturally empathetic can connect with their patients on a deeper level, creating space for them to open up and share their experiences.
While not all jobs in this field will be public-facing ones that deal directly with people, you still need empathy even if you’re in a lab or classroom studying human behavior.
Keep in mind this does not mean that you have to be a social butterfly or extrovert to succeed in this field. You simply need the willingness to connect, feel, and relate to people, even if their experience is different from yours.
A Desire for Life-Long Learning
Psychology isn’t a subject that anyone can become 100% proficient in. Rather, this is a field that you’ll work on throughout the course of your career.
If you enjoy learning on a continuous basis, this might be music to your ears! Even with all of the collective knowledge that we’ve gained throughout the years, the mysteries of the mind are still vast.
Around every curve, there’s always something new to discover. If you’re a genuinely curious person who never grows tired of finding out something new, then this major will definitely appeal to you.
Openness and Trust
Do your friends and family members regularly come to you for advice and help? If they know they can trust you, they’re more willing to share what’s on their hearts and minds.
The same will hold true for the people or patients you work with. You’ll be required to hold space for some of their closest held feelings, thoughts, and emotions. For them to open up, they must be confident that they can trust you.
This will require you to be both open-minded and non-judgmental, willing to listen, understand, and protect the information they choose to share with you.
Learn More About Becoming a Psychology Major
Now that you know a little more about what this field includes and the kinds of traits it requires, are you thinking about becoming a psychology major?
This can be a richly rewarding sector to enter, filled with strong job prospects, high earning potential, and of course — the opportunity to make a major and meaningful difference in the lives of those you help.
At NDNU, we’re here to help you begin your academic journey the right way. If you’re interested in learning more about the two psychology degree programs we offer, feel free to speak to our team!