A bachelor’s degree in psychology will provide you with core knowledge about the human mind, development, and behavior, just to name a few. It is flexible, adaptable, and useful for those seeking employment in the field, and is a necessary foundation for those wishing to continue their education into the graduate level degrees leading to licensure and professional employment.
Bachelors Degree At a Glance
- Degree Options: Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BS) or Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (BA).
- Prerequisites: High School Diploma, GED, or Associates Degree
- Years: 4 years for full-time students but can take 6 years or longer for part-time students.
- Career Opportunities: Graduates of Bachelor’s degree in Psychology can enter a wide variety of fields due to the flexibility of the degree.
- Licensure: Masters Degree or Doctorate
Why a Bachelors in Psychology?
The number of students taking a bachelor’s degree in Psychology is continuously rising. From the 1970s to the present, numbers have increased from 38, 187 to 117, 298.*
The popularity is owed to the numerous career options available to students after they graduate. Graduates can work directly in psychology-related fields or in other industries. Psychology graduates become adaptable because of the valuable skills that they gain. A research carried out in consultation with APA lists the following skills that are a strong link to success in the workplace. **
|Knowing how to predict and understand the behavior of individuals and groups|
|Understanding how to use and interpret data|
|Evaluating the legitimacy of claims about behavior|
|Knowing how memory and learning function|
|Having insight into problematic behaviors|
|Demonstrating the capacity to adapt to change|
|Understanding and operate effectively throughout the channels of an organization|
|Managing difficult situations and high stress environments|
|Starting and carrying out projects with limited information or experience|
|Showing persistence in challenging circumstances|
These sets of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills can give a competitive edge to psychology graduates no matter what career options they choose to pursue.
Bachelor’s Degree Options
Once you’ve decided to take a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you will then have to choose between Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS).
A BS in Psychology focuses on science and research, thus leaning towards more science and mathematics courses. A BA in Psychology focuses on the social aspects of human behavior and other related disciplines. BA Psychology courses focus on more liberal arts and general education courses. A BS in psychology is ideal if you plan to have a career in science, take further graduate studies, or go to a medical school. Opt to take BA in Psychology if you want to explore other disciplines such as law, counseling, social work, or even management.
When deciding, always keep in mind your personal interests and professional goals. In addition, remember that each university’s BA and BS degrees will be unique. It is important that you obtain information and study the school’s catalog to further understand the differences of both degree options.
Bachelor’s in Psychology Courses
A bachelor’s degree usually requires at least 120 semester credit hours of coursework. One credit hour represents an hour of classroom lecture and three hours of outside preparation. Schools usually outline a schedule to complete all requirements for a bachelor’s degree which can take four years (full-time) to six years (part-time). Students have to take core classes, major classes, and elective options.
Core classes depend on the school but are generally a selection of math, science, English, writing, and humanities classes. A bachelors degree in psychology might require more math and science courses, while a BA in psychology might mean more liberal arts classes. Major classes directly relate to psychology include fundamentals of psychology to higher-level classes which can slowly lead to specialization. Schools may offer elective options such as foreign language for the BA option and other research courses for the BS option.
Career Options at the Bachelors Level
Fewer than 25% of those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree work directly in a psychology field. This is due to the higher education requirements of many psychology-related jobs. These jobs require at least a master’s degree or specialization. It is no wonder then that 40% of psychology majors end up going on to business school, law school or some other type of advanced degree program.
However, if you in tend to work immediately after you graduate, you will find yourself with a variety of options in different industries. Many of the bachelor’s degree graduates land entry-level positions on various areas such as management, marketing, human resources, writing, and childcare. According to The College Majors Handbook, the top 10 occupations that accept graduates of bachelor’s degree in psychology are:
- Top- and mid-level management and administration
- Sales and retail
- Social work
- Other management
- Employment, training, and labor-relations
- Other administrative (clerks, telephone operators, customer service)
- Insurance, securities, real estate, business services
- Other marketing and sales
Licensure and Further Studies
A bachelor’s degree is a good step if you want to become a licensed psychologist. However, you would need a masteres or doctoral degree in psychology to gain a license. A master’s degree enables deeper learning and further specializations.
Once you have your master’s degree, you may then proceed to earn your doctorate degree in Psychology which can take 4 to 7 years. Some schools offer a direct PhD or PsyD after your bachelor’s degree.
The Benefits of Majoring in Psychology
By now, you probably are more convinced to take up psychology given its various applications in different fields. A bachelor’s degree in psychology does not only open doors to becoming a licensed psychologist but prepares you for other fields as well.
You might be surprised that a number of famous people took up a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Jerry Bruckheimer, who directed Pirates of the Caribbean, earned his B.A. in Psychology. Natalie Portman who we know in films such as Black Swan and Thor earned her B.A. in Psychology too. Even though she chose a different path, she shares that her degree in psychology helps her a lot.
“There’s always studies that I’ve read that I’ll remember when I’m reading a script about a certain disorder, like ‘this person might be a little bipolar or associative’.”
You might take up psychology as a stepping stone to further studies in counseling, therapy, social work and a whole host of specializations; you might be like Natalie Portman or Jerry Bruckheimer who used their knowledge in psychology to be great at their fields.