“What can I do with a degree in psychology?”

One of the most common myths about the psychology major is that you can’t do anything with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. It is true that you cannot be a psychologist without pursuing a more advanced degree, but you do have many other options. In fact, with your undergraduate degree in psychology, as well as a well-planned use of electives, you can prepare yourself for a variety of career paths.

Typically we see psychology majors take one of five general paths after graduation:

Graduate school in psychology. Approximately 10-15% of undergraduates in psychology pursue a more advanced degree. Admission into graduate programs in psychology tends to be highly competitive. Often, graduate students entering these programs have taken time off to gain more work experience and assure themselves of their goals.

Graduate school in other fields. A number of students with undergraduate psychology degrees apply for, and are admitted into, graduate study in a wide variety of other fields including law, medicine, and business. The psychology degree is a bachelor of science degree which requires the study of math and science, as well as a broad range of electives. Thus, with the proper use of electives and a strong academic record, you can build a sound application for these types of programs.

Paraprofessional human service jobs. Do you like working with people? Many recent graduates report holding jobs as mental health workers, counselors as residential treatment centers, workers at crisis centers, or in social service settings. You will make yourself more marketable for these jobs if you get some type of field placement experience while you are a student. These positions are often a great experience and/or a launching pad to other types of careers or future graduate training.

Jobs in non-psychology areas for which psychology is a good background. You like working with people, but you don’t want to work in a helping prefession. How about working in law enforcement or with the personnel aspects of business? Psychology could be a good background for these types of careers along with many others.

Entry into a variety of other fields. This category encompasses a mix of psychology majors (and other undergraduate majors) who opt to enter careers suited to their individual skills and interests which may be outside of the psychology field.  A list of these sorts of jobs would fill many pages.

Other Thoughts to Consider Hopefully, our graduates have learned how to learn, how to engage in critical thinking and scientific reasoning, and how to use research to inform applied settings.  These are all valuable skills to carry into the future.  Often, it is a good idea to get additional experience outside of the classroom (e.g., internships in the summer, volunteer work, teaching or research assistantships).  Virtually all psychology graduates, no matter what career paths they follow initially, tend to show upward mobility over time in the job market.  But, having a well-defined plan that connects with your interests and goals will be important.

Virtually all psychology graduates, no matter what career paths they follow initially, tend to show upward mobility over time in the job market. Having a well-defined plan that connects with your interests and goals will be important.

While you are in college, use your time wisely. Explore. Expose yourself to what is available to help you investigate your career options. As your career options become clearer, start doing some more planning. Set some potential goals for yourself and formulate steps to achieve them.

Draw on your different experiences as well as your degree to make yourself marketable. Make yourself a unique candidate.

As a CSU student, you have access to The Career Center. The Career Center is where you can get individualized assistance in your career planning. The Career Center is located in the Lory Student Center Next to Sweet Sinsations.  Services offered: Information on internship and volunteer experiences, resume development, choosing/changing majors, graduate school, on-line assessments, job search skills, etc.

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