Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology can be a great way to learn more about the human mind and behavior. The degree can also prepare you for further graduate study or to enter the workforce in a variety of different fields. Learn more about earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, including how long it will take, your career options after graduation and possible alternative degrees that you might want to consider.
What Is a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
A bachelor's degree in psychology is an undergraduate-level degree. Typically, it takes four years to complete a bachelor's degree program. However, some students are able to finish in three, while other may take five to complete all the necessary coursework.
Bachelor's programs in psychology are prevalent at universities throughout the world, and the degree has become a very popular option among students. These programs can also help prepare students for advanced study in psychology and other subjects including medicine and the law. According to The College Majors Handbook, however, nearly 75 percent of all students who earn a bachelor's degree in psychology do not go to graduate school.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
Some people who graduate with an undergraduate degree in psychology opt to work in the social services field. A few common jobs in this area that are open to those with a bachelor's-level degree include case managers, psychiatric technicians and psychosocial rehabilitation workers. The majority of students go on to find work in areas outside of psychology. One report found that the most common areas of employment include sales, marketing, human resources and real estate. Learn more about some of the job options with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
How Do You Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
If you think that a bachelor's degree in psychology might be the right choice for you, it is important to learn about some of the educational requirements. Exact requirements can vary considerably from one program to another, but most programs require students to complete a number of general education courses, core psychology courses and psychology electives. Some of the commonly required core psychology courses include general psychology, statistics, experimental psychology and personality psychology.
Once you determine that a bachelor's in psychology might be a good choice for you, it is important to start planning early. If you are still in high school, take any psychology courses that your school offers in addition to other science classes. As you begin college, take note of the classes you will need to take in order to graduate and develop a four-year course schedule to ensure that you complete all of the required classes as well as any electives that you wish to take.
A typical four-year course schedule for a bachelor's degree in psychology might look a bit like this:
- Fall Semester: Introduction to psychology, English literature, speech, math and life science (i.e. biology, zoology, botony, etc.).
- Spring Semester: Developmental psychology, careers in psychology, history, English literature and life science.
- Fall Semester: Personality psychology, abnormal psychology, government and one or two electives.
- Spring Semester: Psychological testing and measurement, biopsychology, statistics and two electives or general education courses.
- Fall Semester: Psychology of learning, cognitive psychology, experimental psychology and two electives.
- Spring Semester: Social psychology, sensation and perception, ethical issues in psychology and two electives.
- Fall Semester: History of psychology, senior seminar courses, research courses and any required course you still need to take to complete the program.
- Spring Semester: Psychology electives, advanced level topics or clinical practicum courses that you would still like to take before graduating.
How Does a Bachelor of Arts Differ from a Bachelor of Science?
Many universities offer two different types of bachelor's degree: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.). As you begin working toward earning your degree, you will need to decide which one is best suited to your needs, interests and goals. Generally, the difference between the two degrees lies in the general education courses that are required. The B.A. usually requires more liberal arts courses including languages and humanities, while the B.S. demands more science coursework such as biology, zoology and anatomy and physiology. Learn more about the differences between B.A. and B.S. psychology degrees before you decide which one you would like to pursue.
What Are Some Alternatives to a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
Some students may find that while they have a strong interest in psychology, the bachelor's degree option just isn't the right fit for their personality, interest or career goals. Fortunately, there are many different options that these students can consider.
For students interested in the physiological influences on behavior, a program in medicine or the health sciences might be a good alternative to the bachelor's degree in psychology. Those who want to help people directly in a highly applied field might want to consider a bachelor's degree in social work.
Some possible undergraduate degrees you might also consider include:
- Social work
- Public health