Psychology studies human behavior and tries to understand how the mind works. This can include everything from social interactions to development and personality disorders. As a psychology major, you will take a wide range of courses that will help you develop foundational knowledge, properly conduct psychological experiments, and collect and interpret data.
What are the Different Types of Psychology Majors?
Since the study of people and their behaviors can be so broad, there is a wide range of majors and concentrations for you to customize your degree. Keep in mind that working in a psychology field often requires an advanced degree and some certification or licensure requirements, so many psychology majors will need to continue their education past the bachelor’s degree level. Here are the main types of psychology majors:
Clinical Psychology Major
This area of psychology looks at mental health and behavioral issues across all demographics of people. Clinical psychologists will meet with clients and provide an assessment, consult with other professionals on the care team, and help create and supervise an intervention plan. Patients can include anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, or other psychopathologies.
Since clinical psychology is so broad, practitioners can end up in a wide variety of environments from branches of the military, hospitals, government organizations, or police departments. Students can shape their own career paths and pursue specific areas of interest in practically any field.
Clinical Child Psychology Major
As a clinical child psychology major, students will pursue all the same topics as clinical psychology, but with an emphasis on younger demographics, including infants, toddlers, children, and even adolescents. Patients within these age ranges can also face unique challenges when it comes to emotional and developmental issues.
Children and young people are affected by loss and trauma differently, which can manifest in their behavior and education. At the same time, health-related issues can also be a factor, which is something clinical child psychologists will examine and determine.
Typically, a clinical child psychologist will have a PhD and work in private practices, hospitals, schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. As students move through their advanced degrees, they continue to focus their studies even further and eventually work with a specific age group or specialize in developmental disabilities.
Marriage and Family Psychology Major
Families and couples have unique dynamics that affect how they interact with each other and the world around them. A practitioner who specializes in this field will help groups deal with everything from depression and abuse to parent-child conflicts and developmental disorders.
Forensic Psychology Major
The field of forensic psychology provides expertise to two distinct groups: the legal system and clinical-forensic specialists. Within the legal population, forensic psychologists will assess people for mental health issues or psychiatric disorders which could affect legal cases and outcomes. Forensic psychologists can also work directly with the legal community and provide consultations and assistance with cases.
Addiction Psychology Major
Addiction is a complicated disease that includes social, biological, and psychological aspects. Psychologists in this field will help patients with a variety of addictions and must have a deep understanding of proven treatment and prevention methods.
Sports Psychology Major
Being an athlete, at any level, isn’t just about physical prowess. Athletes must also be mentally tough to endure the pressure of performing at a high level. In addition, there are challenges to operating within a team or organization. Sports psychologists use cognitive and behavioral therapy to work with athletes, coaches, and parents to improve mental health in order for them to reach peak performance.
Rehabilitation Psychology Major
People who have a disability caused by an illness or injury will work with a rehabilitation psychologist as they recover and work toward becoming independent. As you might expect, psychologists in this field also work closely with family members and other care providers to help patients adapt and thrive.
Clinical Neuropsychology Major
Clinical neuropsychology is one tract within psychology that you may not have heard of yet. It is a specialized brand that examines the relationship between the nervous system and human behavior. Practitioners work with people who experience the full range of neurobehavioral experiences from Parkinson’s and seizures to dementia and brain injuries.
Working in this field requires a comprehensive knowledge of neuroscience and how the brain works. As a result, both a doctorate and postdoctoral training are required to ensure proper qualifications.
School Psychology Major
This line of study is closely related to child psychology, but practitioners work directly in the K-12 school system or with young adults at colleges and universities. School psychologists are tasked with helping students succeed not only academically, but also emotionally, socially, and behaviorally.
Clinical Health Psychology Major
Clinical health psychologists use their knowledge of human behavior to help people deal with adjusting to a chronic disease diagnosis, managing weight, and curbing tobacco use. Essentially, they provide psychological support to people dealing with health issues with the goal of some level of rehabilitation. While you will find these psychologists in hospitals and medical settings, they also work at universities, government organizations, non-profits, and a variety of other professional environments.
Who Makes a Good Psychology Major?
To succeed as a psychology major and enjoy a career in the field, you should have an innate interest in what makes people tick and desire to explore human behavior. Since psychologists work closely with individuals and groups, students enjoy working with people and have strong communication skills, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. It is also important to be open-minded since you will be encountering a wide variety of people facing a wide array of challenges. Anyone who can handle stress and high-pressure situations will be well suited as a psychology major. For those who don’t plan on becoming a psychologist, pursuing this major will still help develop valuable research, writing, and analytical skills that will transfer well to a variety of different career paths.
How Much Does It Cost to Be a Psychology Major?
The cost of earning a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology will vary based on the school, but you can expect to pay around $10,000 per year in tuition at state schools and $37,000 or more for tuition at a private institution. Keep in mind that there are other costs, such as room and board, books, parking passes, etc. that will add to the total cost of attendance. Those who want to pursue a career in psychology will have to invest in advanced degrees.
A Master’s Program in Psychology typically takes two years, with tuition costs remaining about the same as for a bachelor’s degree. The most cost-effective route is to attend a public, in-state school.
While there are some careers that only require a MA in Psychology, it is most common for practicing psychologists to earn a PhD, which can take three to seven years and requires completing a dissertation. Again, tuition rates remain about the same. Becoming a psychology doctorate student certainly requires a significant investment of time and money, but it also opens the door to rewarding careers where practitioners can make a meaningful impact on many lives.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Psychology Degree?
Completing a Bachelor’s in Psychology typically takes four years and a master’s degree should take two years. When it comes to PhD programs, there is more of a range. You can expect to spend five to seven years completing your PhD For most specialties, and this period will also iinclude one year of interning.
Psychology Major Coursework
The foundation of your psychology major will be built in general psychology courses along with instruction on statistical and research methods, lab work, and natural sciences. Early courses will cover the history of psychology and what we know about the relationships between the brain and how we behave.
Lab courses will allow you to design your own experiments and conduct research. You will become familiar with how to properly observe experiments, measure results, and analyze the data in order to draw conclusions. Once you have completed the necessary prerequisites, you can begin to study more specific topics, including drugs and behavior, developmental psychology, child psychology, theories of personality, and much more. In addition to psychology coursework, you will also need to complete courses in social science, physical science, and math to round out your education.
What Can You Do with a Psychology Degree?
With a Bachelor’s in Psychology, you will have a solid foundation that you can build upon to pursue a variety of careers. Many psychology majors go on to law school or medical school. The degree is also helpful if you want to work in law enforcement, marketing, research, or non-profits. Essentially, you will be well prepared for careers where you will be working directly with people. Keep in mind that to become a practicing therapist or psychologist and work in the field, you will need to earn advanced degrees and, in some cases, certain licensures.
Becoming a psychology major will provide you with foundational writing and research tools. You can use these skills to pursue a more specific area of psychology and become highly specialized. If you don’t want to build a career in psychology, this degree translates well to a variety of other areas, making it a versatile option for students.