A psychology bachelor’s degree introduces students to key concepts in this broad area of study, including human mental processes, individual and collective behavior, and unconscious thought. In addition, an undergraduate degree psychology program also covers specific topics related to the student’s desired career path/specialization; these may include environmental psychology, statistics, neuropsychology, child/adolescent psychology, and human development.
Psychology degree earners acquire a wide range of skills during the course of their bachelor’s program, such as data collection, qualitative analysis, and behavioral interpretation. These skills enable students to understand why people behave the way they do and what internal processes are at work; this understanding allows them to professionally assist individuals with mental health and life decisions.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?
Individuals should enroll in a bachelor’s degree psychology program if they hope to work in health care, career counseling, school counseling, or as caseworker with social aid organizations. Completion of this program will not only open the door for these careers, but also develops a base of skills used in a wide variety of other type of occupations. For example, most psychology students become adept at both observation and communication — two skills that qualify them for entry-level jobs in fields like business services, sales and marketing, customer service, human resources, social work, real estate, and corporate training.
However, the field of psychology is highly competitive; most positions (including entry-level jobs) require at least a bachelor’s degree, and many students go on to earn a master’s or doctorate degree. In order to become a licensed psychologist, most states require students to complete a doctoral program and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The bachelor’s degree is the first step toward earning a doctorate degree and receiving state licensure.
Getting into a Psychology Bachelor’s Program
Most undergraduate programs require general high school education, along with core courses for transfer students. In addition, most four-year colleges and universities require the following:
- Completed application
- Official high school transcript or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
- Official transcripts from any colleges or universities previously or currently attending
- Advanced placement examination scores, or college level examination scores
Inside a Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Program
It typically takes four years to complete a four-year psychology program and earn a bachelor’s degree. The degree program involves general education courses, core psychology courses, and elective course work. The first two years will typically consist of fulfilling many of the general requirements, such as English, life sciences, speech, history, and math. Introductory psychology courses may also be taken during the first two years, though the bulk of these classes will be completed during the latter two years of the program.
Core courses cover topics like developmental psychology, careers in psychology, personality psychology, psychological assessment, biophysical psychology, social psychology, statistics, and research methods. By fulfilling the core and general education courses in the first two years, students can enjoy some fun with more electives in the last two years of the psychology bachelor’s degree, rather than scramble to complete the core requirements. Many institutions require an internship during the senior year; this experience allows students to apply and reflect on theories and methods used in the field. Other universities may require students to complete a capstone project.
What’s Next for the Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Holder?
Roughly 75% of students who graduate with a bachelor’s of psychology degree go on to work in social services, human services, or education. The Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) projects the social and human services industry will grow 28% between 2010 and 2020. School and career counselor occupations are expected to grow 19% during this time period. The range of pay for graduates varies considerably. For example, the median wage for social and human services is roughly $13.56 per hour, (about $29,832 annually) , while school counselor occupations garner an annual salary of $53,380. Other job titles for graduates may include case manager, psychiatric technician, or rehabilitation specialist.
Some graduates pursue rewarding work outside psychology in other fields such as sales and marketing, management and administration, corporate training, real estate, insurance, and customer service. Those interested in psychology but wishing to enter social work might consider a bachelor’s degree in social work.