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Psychology, General

Program Description

Just the Facts

Psychology, General. A general program that focuses on the scientific study of individual and collective behavior, the physical and environmental bases of behavior, and the analysis and treatment of behavior problems and disorders. Includes instruction in the principles of the various subfields of psychology, research methods, and psychological assessment and testing methods.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

Psychology students can specialize in fields like neuropsychology and child clinical psychology. Or they can use their education as preparation for studies in fields not directly related to psychology, such as commerce or law.

Students should realize there is more to psychology than the desire to help others. "There are scientifically oriented courses, including quantitative aspects [statistics], biological aspects [behavior courses], and cognitive-behavioral aspects in a psychology major," says Lewis Barker. He is a psychology professor at Baylor University in Texas.

Diane Moyer, a psychology professor at Cedar Crest College in Pennsylvania, agrees that a good foundation in math and science is helpful.

You'll also need excellent writing and speaking skills, notes Kathy Belicki, a professor of psychology. "The student who does not have a close-to-publishable writing style is at a distinct disadvantage. Verbal expression skills are also important since psychologists spend much of their time writing and speaking."

Most students begin with an introductory course that offers an overview of the key concepts and specialties of psychology. In the second year, students learn more about research methods and statistics. After that, it's up to students to choose classes in a specialty, such as child psychology.

Some students enter the field of industrial psychology, applying research to increase worker productivity. Others go on to medical school and study psychiatry. Still other students enter the field of forensic psychology and focus on law.

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the nationally recognized accrediting body for professional education and training in psychology. It publishes lists of accredited doctoral programs, but doesn't rate programs at the undergraduate level.

There are things you can do now to get a feel for the field. "Volunteering in hospital settings or summer jobs in laboratories would be useful," says Barker. "Or working as volunteers with young people or the aged may help to develop interests in counseling."

A well-rounded course load with classes in math and science will be helpful. Also, classes that help develop your writing skills will be beneficial for the lab reports and research papers you'll be preparing.

Tuition and books are the main costs, but some courses charge lab fees.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Psychologists

American Psychological Association Student Site
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Psych Site
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Psych Web
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