Psychology is the study of behavior, mental processes and emotions in humans and animals. As an undergraduate, you can pursue either an associate's or a bachelor's degree in psychology, and you may have the opportunity to specialize in child psychology, educational psychology, or developmental psychology. Prospective students need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent to gain entrance into an undergraduate degree program. You may also need to have taken an introductory psychology course or passed a placement test.
Associate's Degree in Psychology
Students in associate's degree programs will gain a foundation in psychology principles, concepts, and theories. Another goal is to develop the critical-thinking skills necessary to thrive in the field. Junior and community colleges offer the psychology concentration through Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) programs. In the associate's degree program, students complete general education and specialty courses in psychology. Typical psychology courses include the following:
- Introduction to psychology
- Marriage and family
- Theory of personality
- Anatomy and physiology
- Developmental psychology
- Logic and critical thinking
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
If you enroll in a bachelor's degree program, you will study the foundational concepts of psychology and receive additional training in research methods and applications, scholarly writing, and quantitative analysis. At many schools, you can choose between Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in Psychology. The B.A. typically includes liberal arts courses, including a foreign language requirement, while the B.S. focuses primarily on mathematics and science courses. Bachelor's degree programs in psychology typically include courses such as the following:
- Personality psychology
- Research in psychology
- Statistics methods
- Experimental methods
- Methodology in social and behavioral sciences
- Data collection and analysis
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an associate's degree program in psychology are prepared for entry-level positions in psychology or related fields, such as the following:
- Psychiatric aide
- Mental health assistant
- Customer service manager
- Youth counselor
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in psychology usually have a wider range of marketable skills, including research, writing, and analytical skills. They may consider one of the following entry- and mid-level careers:
- Public relations specialist
- Business manager
- Research associate
- Case manager
- Career counselor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
While an undergraduate major in psychology can open the door to diverse career opportunities, career and school counselors were projected to see an 8% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean annual salary for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors was $56,490 in May 2015.
Graduates of psychology programs are well equipped with the knowledge needed to pursue higher levels of education. In order to practice psychology professionally, advanced degrees in clinical, educational or experimental psychology are usually required. Students will find that graduate degree programs are offered in a number of specialty areas in psychology, including drug addiction counseling, divorce mediation, school psychology and adult development.
In conclusion, if you are fascinated by the way the mind works and want to prepare yourself for many career options ranging from a public relations specialist to a career counselor, you should consider pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree in psychology.