According to the American Psychological Association, in 2008, psychology was the second most popular undergraduate field of study. Undergraduate training in psychology yields important skills in problem solving, enhances writing skills, and improves high level reasoning abilities. An undergraduate degree in psychology is unlikely to result in a job in the field. However, the skills learned while obtaining the degree are valuable and in demand.
An undergraduate degree in psychology has value if the coursework meets quality performance expectations. The APA established guidelines for undergraduate psychology majors to ensure quality. Not all undergraduate degrees in psychology originate from the psychology department, so it is important to have standards. These guidelines address knowledge, skills and values applicable to the science of psychology, such as research and critical thinking skills.
Often, undergraduate psychology programs include courses in introductory psychology, statistics and basic research methods. There may be opportunities to take additional courses, such as in personality, learning, abnormality and developmental psychology. Pursuing an undergraduate degree might not require declaring a major in psychology. However, many graduate programs in psychology require at least 18 credits of basic psychology coursework. About 25 percent of all graduates continue to a graduate degree in psychology.
Bachelor's degrees are either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. According to the APA, there is little difference between the degrees in respect to psychology. What is important is to take the courses that allow you to continue on to graduate school if that is your choice or to maximize other career expectations. Associate degrees are more limited. Some allow transfer of credit while others are a terminal degree.
Associate degree programs are also limited. Coffeyville Community College offers a degree in psychology-counseling for transfer to a four year program. Itasca Community College provides a degree in applied psychology – human services. Most programs range from a degree in psychology, such as at the Community College of Philadelphia, or in applied psychology at Florida Tech University.
Programs at the bachelor's level vary. The University of Chicago provides a broad program allowing the student to pursue graduate work or a career in areas like social work or medicine. Stanford University allows the student to design curricula for a range of interests from business to clinical psychology. Duke University lists majors in psychology or neuroscience. The University of North Florida offers degrees in child psychology. The University of California, Santa Barbara provides a degree in biopsychology. Sacramento State University offers a psychology degree with wide emphasis, including industrial - organizational and applied behavioral analysis. Judson University provides a criminal justice concentration. The University of Detroit Mercy offers a developmental psychology major. Azusa Pacific University provides a degree with a concentration in one of eight areas, like sports psychology. Regent University offers the psychology degree with an emphasis on substance abuse treatment. Naropa University provides a degree in contemplative psychology. Select the program depending on your career choice.
- American Psychological Association: Careers in Psychology.
- American Psychological Association: Support Center.
- American Psychological Association: APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major.
- Coffeyville Community College: Psychology-counseling Transfer Degree Program.
- Itasca Community College: Psychology.
- University of Chicago: Department of Psychology, Undergraduate Program.
- Stanford University: Department of Psychology, Designing a Curriculum.
- Duke University: Psychology and Neuroscience, Undergraduate Studies.
- Community College of Philadelphia: College Catalog, Psychology.
- Florida Tech University: Associate of Arts in Psychology Degree.
- University of North Florida: University Catalog.
- University of California, Santa Barbara: Psychology and Brain Sciences.
- Sacramento State University: Department of Psychology.
- Judson University: Psychology and Sociology.
- University of Detroit Mercy, College of Liberal Arts and Education: Developmental Psychology Major.
- Azusa Pacific University: Psychology Major.
- Regent University, College of Arts and Sciences: Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
- Naropa University, School of Natural and Social Sciences: BA Contemplative Psychology.
- American Psychological Association: Precollege and Undergraduate Education.
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation: Search for Accredited Institutions Database.
- Chad Baker/Photodisc/Getty Images