Psychology major is one of the most popular majors for undergraduate studies. It is an intriguing field that students consider studying because it looks at human beings and how we think, behave, and feel. It is a people-oriented major and it requires good critical thinking and analytical skills.
If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s in psychology, read the below guide to have an idea of what a psychology major is, its fields, courses, and career opportunities.
All you need to know about Psychology Major
Psychology is the study of the human mind and human behavior. It studies how the mind influences our behavior as well as our thoughts and emotions on a scientific basis. It can help us understand why different people have different personalities and the thought process of individuals which affects how they respond or react to a certain phenomenon.
Psychology uses scientific methodologies to offer explanations for human behavior in an objective and systematic manner. It is not simply about judging people’s behavior/personalities subjectively as many people might think. They conduct observations on a certain phenomenon and creating a scientific hypothesis in order to test and draw conclusions about the observed phenomenon. Psychology major students use statistical analysis too as part of their research methodology.
Students can engage in research work in the psychology department in their respective universities to gain experience in designing experiments, learn the different observation and measurement techniques, and also learn how to analyze quantitative and qualitative data.
Psychology major graduates can, later on, obtain higher degrees not only in psychology but also in fields like medicine, law, and other fields. In addition, the subfields and divisions are very diverse such as fields related to children, the environment, social work, criminology, and so on.
Why Study Psychology?
Frankly speaking, most college students are interested in taking a course in Psychology as their electives. This is because the things that psychology studies are interesting and thought-provoking because it helps us understand more about ourselves. Why do we act, think or feel the way we do in different contexts.
Thus, there are many reasons why should study psychology:
1- It can help you understand yourself and other people. We are complex human beings and our decisions and behaviors are influenced by many factors. Studying psychology can help you understand the motivation behinds people’s actions to gain a perspective on why we act the way do.
We are what we are because we have been what we have been, and what is needed for solving the problems of human life and motives is not moral estimates but more knowledge.” –Sigmund Freud
2- It is a diverse field and has many specializations. Studying psychology is not only about becoming a psychologist and working in clinics. It has a wide range of specialties that you can focus on according to your interests and goals. So no matter what your passion is, you will be able to specialize and focus on it. This can vary from clinical and health psychology to sports psychology.
3- You will enhance your communication skills. Students studying psychology develop their knowledge and understanding of people and their emotions. They recognize that people respond differently and have different perspectives on issues. Without a doubt, this will improve your interpersonal communication and your ability to have an effective dialogue with people. The communication skills you will gain through psychology major are not only important for your professional life but also your personal life where you will learn to be more empathetic in dealing with people.
What can I do with a Psychology degree?
There are many professional careers that you can fit in as a psychology major graduate. If you wish to work in the medical field, you can study medicine to become a psychiatrist. Or you can work as a legal psychologist where you will with the legal applications of psychology. The point is, there are many job positions that require psychology majors.
You can also pursue higher degrees in psychology to become a researcher or if you want to practice therapy and counseling.
Some of the psychology major jobs are the following:
- Clinical psychologist
- Counseling psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- Child and adolescent psychology
- Educational psychologist
- Psychological wellbeing practitioner
- Sport and exercise psychologist
- Occupational psychologist
Aside from being a psychologist, you can also work in NGOs and the business sector as a human resources manager or research assistant, or advertising manager for example.
Courses in the Psychology major
Students studying psychology will be required to take core courses in psychology. Students can also choose other courses according to their interests.
Some of the courses offered in psychology are the following:
- General Psychology.
- History of Psychology.
- Experimental Psychology.
- Physiological Psychology.
- Cognitive Psychology.
- Abnormal Psychology.
- Developmental Psychology.
Fields of Psychology
Psychology has many branches and subfields due to the complex nature of the human mind and human behavior some of which are research-oriented while others are more practical. Psychologists can specialize during their postgraduate education or their careers in one of the below fields:
- Abnormal Psychology.
- Behavioral Psychology.
- Clinical Psychology.
- Cognitive Psychology.
- Comparative Psychology.
- Counseling Psychology.
A brief history of Psychology
Psychology as a scientific discipline began in 1879 in Leipzig, Germany by Gustav Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt when he opened the world’s first psychology lab at the University of Leipzig. This event marks the emergence of Psychology as a separate field.
Yet, the study of the human mind and human behavior was a subject of interest for ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Indians, and other civilizations. Wundt was the one who introduced statistical analysis and experimental methodologies to the field of psychology. Soon after that many fields and branches of psychology began to appear and it developed into the modern discipline it is today.
Father of Psychology and Important Figures in the History of Psychology
As mentioned above, Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt is the father of Psychology. Before him, psychology was considered a subfield of biology and philosophy. His contribution revolutionized psychology and led to its establishment as its own discipline. Other psychologists that made significant contributions to the field of psychology are:
- Sigmund Freud
- Mary Whiton Calkins
- Kurt Lewin
- Jean Piaget
Future of Psychology Major
There is a growing demand for careers in psychology due to the high demand for psychologists in hospitals and health centers and also due to the increasing awareness of people on issues of mental health. However, higher degrees such as Masters and Ph.D. in psychology are often required for these positions. Graduates with only a bachelor’s degree in Psychology are often limited with their career options.
Careers in Psychology can also vary depending on the country you live in or study in. Some countries demand psychology graduates more than other countries, so this is something you might want to consider before deciding whether you want to go for a psychology major.
Best Universities to study psychology
Germany is known for being the best country to study psychology because it has highly ranked universities that offer psychology degrees. It is after all where psychology major originated.
Below are the top universities in Germany for studying Pyschology
- LMU Munich
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- University of Tübingen
- Free University Berlin
- University of Ulm
- TU Dresden
- Ruhr University of Bochum