Psychology Major: After Graduation

Options for Graduates with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

I. Graduate School

A. An undergraduate major in psychology is good preparation for graduate programs in…
Psychology, such as…

  • Clinical
  • Cognition and Perception
  • Developmental
  • Educational and School
  • Experimental
  • Industrial and Organizational
  • Social and Personality

And closely related fields such as:

  • Counseling
  • Educational Measurement
  • Social Work
  • Post-Secondary Student Development
  • Neuroscience
  • Physical Therapy
  • Public Health
  • Urban and Regional Planning

B. With careful selection of courses outside the major, an undergraduate major in psychology is also good preparation for a wide range of graduate programs such as…

  • Business (e.g., marketing, management)
  • Health Administration
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Physical Therapy
  • Public Health
  • Urban and Regional Planning

C. Common Occupations After Graduate Education in Psychology

  • Academic Psychology:
    Academic psychologists most often work in colleges and universities. Academic jobs vary greatly in teaching and research expectations, with almost all teaching and no research at community colleges, some blend of teaching and research at bachelors and masters institutions, and much more research and less teaching expected at doctoral institutions. Bachelors, masters, and doctoral level institutions typically require the Ph.D. for faculty positions; community colleges may require only a masters degree.
  • Professional Psychology:
    Professional psychologists work in diverse settings including independent practice, psychiatric and general hospitals, medical schools, community mental health centers, and correctional facilities. Professional psychologists provide a range of services including psychotherapy, psychological testing, treatment planning, and consultation. In most states, providing these services requires a doctoral degree in clinical, counseling, or school psychology plus supervised post-doctoral experience.
  • Research Psychology:
    Research psychologists often work in business, industry, and government. Research psychologists typically hold the Ph.D., although similar positions may be available for those with masters degrees. Research psychologists usually conduct research on topics assigned by their employers (in contrast to academic psychologists who choose their own topics). Examples include research on leadership under stress (for the military), the persuasiveness of various advertisements (for a food products company), the validity of a new educational achievement measure (for a testing corporation), or the outcomes of individuals receiving disability payments (for a state government).

D. Planning for Success in Graduate School

  • Academic Performance:
    Grades are the first hurdle to acceptance into most graduate programs. GPA requirements vary widely, with many masters programs requiring a 3.0, and doctoral programs often screening out applicants with GPAs below 3.5. Note that a masters degree is of no advantage for acceptance into many doctoral programs in psychology.
  • Research Experience:
    Especially for Ph.D. programs, research experience as an undergraduate beyond that required in classes is often of critical importance. You may gain research experience by working one-on-one or as part of a research team with a professor.
  • Internships and Volunteer Experience:
    Students who intend to work with challenged populations (e.g., children with behavioral problems, adults with mental illness) should  seek out some structured experience with the population. These experiences will help you make an informed choice regarding the type of graduate training you seek.

II. Enter the Work Force

A. Psychology majors who prefer to work in “helping professions” may wish to seek employment in Human or Social Service occupations such as…

  • Activities director
  • Child welfare worker
  • College admissions counselor
  • Community support worker
  • Group home supervisor
  • Mental health case manager
  • Probation officer
  • Psychometric technician

B. By applying the skills listed below in section C, you could also work successfully in many other occupations such as…

  • Data analyst
  • Fund raising
  • Human resources
  • Law enforcement
  • Management trainee
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Personnel coordinator
    • Sales

C. Skills that many employers value in psychology majors…

  • Writing clear proposals and reports
  • Identifying problems and suggesting solutions based on behavioral research
  • Conducting interviews
  • Doing statistical analyses with computers
  • Designing and conducting research
  • Coding data
  • Systematically observing and recording people’s behavior
  • Constructing questionnaires and tests

D. Planning for Success in the Work Force

  • Academic Performance:
    Although not as critical as when applying to graduate school, a strong undergraduate GPA is valued by most employers.
  • Class Selection:
    Complement your major in psychology with electives to enhance marketable skills. For example, you might consider additional classes in computer programming, statistics, accounting, professional writing, and health science.
  • Internships:
    Internships are an excellent way to gain basic experience in settings similar to those in which you may wish to work.
  • Truman State University Career Center:
    The Career Center (SUB 3100; telephone 660-785-4353) provides many services including one-on-one career advising, assessment of vocational interests, résumé development, interview preparation, and employment and internship listings.