How do I Earn a Psychology Degree?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Someone who is interested in earning a psychology degree can do so by attending a college or university which offers degrees in psychology, and completing the degree requirements. Psychology degrees can be applied in a number of ways, ranging from providing counseling services to people with psychological issues to working for marketing companies to develop effective ad campaigns. Individuals interested in careers in psychology should definitely think about how and where they want to practice when applying to schools.


Many colleges and universities do not require people to declare majors and areas of interest when they apply for undergraduate education, although it may be encouraged. This allows people interested in psychology to apply for general admission, rather than needing to prepare for and apply to psychology programs specifically, with someone who wants a psychology degree declaring his or her major after arriving at school. Generally, college preparation includes successful completion of high school coursework, with electives and extracurricular activities used to bolster the student's application.

When applying as an undergraduate to a college or university which offers a degree in psychology, candidates should consider the type of psychology they are interested in, and look for schools which offer training in that area. For example, someone might want to study biological psychology, the study of the physical mechanisms behind human behavior, or developmental psychology, which focuses on the psychological development of children. Some other areas of focus in psychology include clinical psychology, counseling, cognitive psychology, comparative psychology, and critical psychology, among others. A good resource for schools with strong programs in specific areas is professional organizations of psychologists; students can look at the biographies of organization officers to see where they went to school.

Students may also want to research careers in psychology to learn about the working conditions, payscale, and opportunities for advancement in various areas of the psychological profession which will be available to them once they have a psychology degree. A psychologist who works as a market researcher or legal consultant, for example, could potentially command very high pay for his or her skills, while a counselor may not make as much.

Once students who want a psychology degree arrive at school, they should talk to professors or academic advisors about the coursework required for a psychology degree, so that they can start completing necessary courses as quickly as possible. Students will usually need to complete a number of courses to satisfy general graduation requirements, and as prerequisites for advanced coursework in psychology. It helps to get these over with quickly so that students have a chance to take electives.

With an undergraduate degree in psychology, it is possible for students to apply to programs which offer graduate degrees in psychology. These programs are much more competitive, and the application process tends to be more lengthy, with a specific focus on the student's qualifications in the field of psychology, rather than the student's general academic accomplishments.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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