Career Paths for Psychology Majors
It is never too early to start thinking about where your major in psychology can take you. There are many resources at Roosevelt University and beyond that can help you explore and plan, regardless of whether you want to start work right after graduation or pursue an advanced degree. The first place to start is the university Office of Career Development. Be sure to use their online resources that provide information about different jobs, internships, resume writing, career fairs, and networking opportunities. They maintain a jobs database for Roosevelt University students, and offer in person consultation on both campuses.
Your psychology degree can lead to so many different fields, ranging from ones that you may readily think about (like mental health and social services) to those with connections that may be less apparent (like human resources, business, medicine, and education) upon first glance. The challenge for some students is to narrow the number of choices to find a career path that will be the most meaningful and appropriate for them.
One of the best resources to start your searching is O*Net Online. The site has an Interest Profiler that features a questionnaire to assess your interests. It then recommends careers with the best fit for different levels of education. You can also look up different careers directly on the site to learn more about each.
I’d also recommend downloading the “Careers for Psychology Majors” document, which lists 300 jobs that are well-suited for students with a psychology major. Some require graduate school (those are highlighted in green), but many do not. You will see that each of these careers has links underneath that you can use to learn more. You can also find an overview provided by the American Psychological Association. Roosevelt’s library has several books on our shelves that have helpful advice on progressing through your psychology major and directing you to an exciting career.
Graduate School in Psychology
Students who want to be therapists or clinical psychologists need graduate-level training to become proficient in providing services. Students who want to be researchers similarly pursue studies at the Master’s or doctoral level regardless of their interest area. There are many resources that allow you to learn more about the steps involved in this process. The most comprehensive is probably the Online Psychology Career Center and is definitely worth your attention.
The American Psychological Association has a video series on preparing and applying for graduate school in psychology. These review career options, timelines, taking the GRE exam, writing personal statements, and completing applications. Remember, though, that psychology is a broad field and has many different areas that you can pursue additional education and training.
For those who are interested particularly in clinical psychology, there’s the CUDCP Guide to Getting In that has extensive advice and resources. You can also explore these helpful articles to help you decide between a Masters vs. doctorate in clinical psychology, and choosing between a PsyD or a PhD program.
Your Next Steps
Develop a plan now that will lead you to success. Be purposeful as you choose your psychology courses and electives so that you gain the foundation you need for your next step. We’ve designed the Psychology BA so that it covers the major areas of the field and gives you the courses that most graduate programs require. We also allow you to select a concentration area to gain additional specialization in Mental Health, Child and Family Studies, Neuroscience, and Forensic Psychology.
Go beyond doing well in your courses and gain additional expertise. Graduate programs and employers value experiences that occur outside of the university through related jobs and field work. Our department offers classes with service-learning (especially within the different concentration sequences) as well as the Psychology Internship class (PSYC 393) each Fall semester. Plan ahead so you can dedicate the time needed to include this in your degree program. Even if you don’t complete an internship, volunteering in the community can be invaluable.
Students who are interested in research and graduate school especially benefit from joining the lab teams of our full-time faculty members. Our department has professors with expertise in many different subfields. Dr. Meyers maintains a list of his colleagues who welcome undergraduates as members of their research teams each year; you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. This experience can be completed as an independent study course (PSYC 395) with varying amounts of credit or can be on a volunteer basis.
You can learn and network with others through related student organizations as well. Roosevelt’s Center for Student Involvement maintains a list of official organizations and their contact information. For example, explore the Psychology Club and Active Minds. We also have chapters of Psi Chi, the Psychology Honor Society, on both campuses. Finally, consider applying to the Honors Track in Psychology for dedicated honors sections of psychology courses and the opportunity to complete your own research project.