Careers and Grad School
Although a Psychology B.A. degree provides excellent skills that increase one's employment opportunities, the Psychology B.A. is not a vocational degree. That is, a minority of Psychology undergraduates enter psychology-related vocations after graduation. However, there are a number of psychology-related fields that are suited for Psychology undergraduates. Your career opportunities in Psychology are greatly enhanced with a master's or doctoral degree. Below is some detailed information on career and academic opportunities.
See 'Forms & Handouts' for handouts such as "What's Next?" and specific grad program requirements.
Career and Academic Opportunities for Psychology Majors
Students select psychology as a major for a variety of reasons. Many students are interested in the questions and issues addressed in the study of psychology, and they want to know more, but they don’t want a career in psychology. Others use psychology as a stepping stone to law school or medical school. A few people major in psychology because they want a career in the field. Psychology is a good major for all of these reasons. For a listing of employers of Psychology majors, please visit Buzzfile.
In order to enter psychology as a profession, an advanced degree is typically required. Although a bachelor’s degree in psychology is not a professional degree like engineering or accounting, it is a good liberal arts degree. Students find that an undergraduate major in psychology maximized skills and abilities that are useful for any career. To find out more about careers in Psychology and related areas, you can visit the advising office (S2 237), meet with a counselor in the Career Services Office (Joyal 256), or look online at the career browser at www.collegeboard.org. These resources can give you information about working conditions, job outlook, and earnings potential. Here is an overview of the different academic degrees that will allow you to work in Psychology and related professions.
Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Psychology is the second most popular undergraduate major, just under business administration. Many students end their college careers with a BA/BS in psychology and find work related to the field and many others continue with graduate education.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is a strong liberal education degree and excellent preparation for a variety of professions. The major prepares students with good research and writing skills, good problem solving techniques, and the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. Psychology majors also end to have well-developed people skills, which are attractive for potential employers. Students may also consider taking Psych 179-Supervised Field Experience or Com S 101-Community Service Internship for career-related experience during their program of study.
Jobs available to bachelor’s graduates include:
- Educators (including teaching psychology at a high school level)
- Administrative support/Clerical support
- Sales personnel
- Employment counselors
- Health professionals
- Service industries
- Probation officers
- Market researchers
- Residential Care
- Assistant at rehabilitation centers
- Public affairs/Social services
- Computer programming
- Correction counselor trainees
- Biological sciences
- Personnel analysts
- Personnel managers
- Mental health workers
- Applied behavior analysts
Masters Degree in Psychology and related fields
Many colleges and universities offer terminal master’s degrees designed to prepare students for work in a subfield of psychology such as school psychology or industrial/organizational psychology. Many graduates with a master’s degree can work in university, government, and business organizations. Jobs are also available in education, industry, and community mental health centers. Those interested in clinical, counseling, school, and testing/measurement psychology can often find jobs working under the direction of a doctoral psychologist.
Jobs available to master’s graduates include:
- Organizational development
- Survey research
- Data collector/analyst
- Testing and measurement
- Teaching at junior college
Some students are also interested in master’s degree programs in areas such as:
- School Psychology
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Counseling and Student Services
- Rehabilitation Counseling
- Business Administration
(See 'Forms & Handouts' link for detailed information on these graduate programs.)
Doctoral Degree in Psychology and related Fields
The highest paid and greatest range of jobs in psychology are available to doctoral graduates. There are two types of doctoral degrees in psychology. A Psy.D. is a professional degree. This degree is applied in nature, and it is usually offered at professional schools. A Ph.D. is an academic degree, and it is typically offered by universities. Because of this, universities prefer to hire those who have graduated with a Ph.D. in psychology for faculty positions. For more comprehensive information please see our graduate programs informational documents under Forms and Handouts.
Doctoral graduates typically establish careers as:
- Professors (employed by universities and colleges)
- Researchers (employed by universities, the government, the military, or business)
- Service providers (employed by mental health settings)
- Administrators (employed by hospitals, mental health facilities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, universities, or businesses)
- Consultants (employed by organizations to advise on areas of expertise)
Resources for Additional Information
- Is Psychology the Major for You? (Woods and Wilkinson, Eds.) Published by APA. (1987).
- The Complete Guide to Graduate School Admission: Psychology and Other Related Fields. Keith-Spielgel, Ph.D. (1991).
- Getting In: A Step by Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology. Published by APA. (1993).
Helpful links to find a Graduate School
- CSU: http://degrees.calstate.edu/
- UC: http://universityofcalifornia.edu/uc-system/parts-of-uc
- Private Colleges in California: http://www.collegecalc.org/colleges/california/private/
Funding - Determine the Cost of Your Graduate Degree
The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) has developed the Financial Expenditure Evaluation for Students (FEES) tool to help current and prospective psychology graduate students calculate and evaluate the cost of attending any psychology graduate program so that they can make informed decisions about the cost of their education.
FEES helps students score graduate psychology programs on their transparency about a variety of factors
- Amount of financial support available, career placement prospects, average salary of graduates, the availability of health insurance, including mental health benefits, and average time to degree completion. APAGS also encourages training programs to use the tool to assess the costs their students take on and how easy it is for students to find financial details and other important information about the program. Find it at www.apa.org/apags/resources/fees-tool.
American Psychological Association (1986). Psychology: Careers for the Twenty-First Century. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Careers in Psychology. Tempe, AZ: Department of Psychology.
Chickering, A.W. (1994). Empowering lifelong self-development. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 50-53.
Woods, P.J., & Wilkinson, C.S. (Eds.) (1997). Is Psychology the Major for You? Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.