A-1Pursuing a PsychologyCareerJennifer ZwolinskiUniversity of San DiegoTHE PSYCHOLOGY MAJORWhat can you do with a degree in psychology?Lots! As a psychology major, you will graduate with a scientific mindset and an aware-ness of basic principles of human behavior (biological, developmental, mental disor-der–related, social). This background will prepare you for success in many areas, includ-ing business, helping professions, health services, marketing, law, sales, and teaching.You may even go on to graduate school for specialized training to become a psychologyprofessional. Here, you’ll find the answers to important questions about pursuing thestudy of psychology: Is psychology the right major for you? What are the various levelsof psychology education, and what kinds of jobs are available at those levels? What arepsychology’s specialized subfields? What are some ways you can improve your chancesof admission to graduate school?How do you know if psychology is the right major for you?To see if you would be well matched with a major in psychology, start by consideringthe questions below.Do you:•enjoy learning about the ways we think and behave, and why?•appreciate the value of applying the scientific method to answer questions?•have an interest in a career that requires interpersonal skills?•want to learn critical thinking and analytical skills?•want to learn communication and presentation skills?•want to gain computer skills in data processing, and research methodology skills suchas assessment and statistics?•want to work in human or animal services?•have a desire to apply psychological principles to understand or solve personal, social,organizational, or environmental problems?If you answered “yes” to most or all of these questions, then psychology may be the rightmajor for you.1Although “Careers in Psychology” draws primarily from available U.S. data, its descriptions of psychology’s subfields andsuggestions for preparing to enter the profession are applicable to students in many other countries.01_MEY_18839_p001-022.indd110/24/173:46 PM
A-2P U R S U I N G A P S Y C H O L O G Y C A R E E RHow popular is the psychology major?Psychology is a very popular major. In 2014-2015, psychology was the fourth most pop-ular major—6 percent of all degrees conferred. Business (19 percent), social scienceand history (11 percent), and health professions and related programs (8 percent) occu-pied the top three spots [National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2016a]. In2015, more than 117,000 psychology majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree fromU.S. colleges and universities (NCES, 2016a)(FIGURE 1).Given that this number has been steadily increasing since 1970 (NCES, 2016a), it isvery likely that psychology will remain a popular major among undergraduate students.