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The Breakdown

What do we gain from human contact? Why do good, ordinary people follow corrupt, immoral or harmful orders? How prone are we to abusing positions of power? These are just a small sample of the broad and complex questions psychologists pose and research. They seek to understand behavior and mental processes through a physiological, social, cognitive and behavioral lens.

As a psych major, you’ll aim to understand similar queries via both classroom discussion and laboratory work. You will cover such varied topics as the brain, memory, motivation, social influence and mental disorders and treatments, to name a few. Though psychology can be broken down into specialties like social psych, experimental psych or clinical psych, most programs do not require undergrads to choose a specific focus. Instead, students often get a broad taste of the discipline. However, because it’s a research laden field, nearly all departments make classes in statistics and research methods mandatory.

Those intending to major in psychology should be open minded and comfortable in dealing with shades gray. After all, not everything in this field is starkly black and white. Further it’s important to be a creative thinker with keen analytical skills. And, of course, you should be good with people. Indeed, there are faces behind all the data you will process.

Nuts and Bolts

Psych majors have a number of fascinating courses available to them. These classes include: Cognitive Psychology, Psychology of Human Sexuality, Biology of Mental Disorders, Human Motivation and Emotion, Abnormal Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Psychology of Language, Psychology of Personality, Laboratory in Learning and Memory, Psychological Tests and Measures and Community Psychology.

Decisions, Decisions

Psychology majors have a great interest in humans and how they interact with their environment. Other fields which trod upon this ground include: sociology, neuroscience, biology, anthropology, philosophy, human development, linguistics, English and criminology.

What's Next

One of the great aspects of majoring in psychology is that it guarantees you won’t be pigeonholed. Indeed, psych majors can follow any number of career routes. Certainly, many undergraduates use it as a stepping stone to graduate school. And if you’re interested in pursuing a career in psychology you’ll likely need a masters and even a PhD. Other psych majors ultimately attend law or medical school. Of course, many recent graduates enter the work force as well. Some find entry level research positions with hospitals or labs. Many also put their skills to use working in marketing, advertising or sales. After all, those who have an understanding of the inner workings of the human mind have a leg up when it comes to pitching people, products or a lifestyle!


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Don Munce