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What is a degree in Psychology?

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Overview

Psychology did not exist as a science until 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory dedicated to psychological research. Prior to that time, it was under the banner of philosophy, first studied by ancient philosophers, as Plato and Aristotle. Today, when one thinks of psychology, the first thought may be therapy, most often referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy. However, the discipline of psychology delves into areas of clinical psychology, educational psychology, organizational psychology, forensic psychology, counseling psychology, and health psychology. Therefore, there are many choices on the menu for those interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in this field.

Arts and Science Degrees

A Bachelor of Arts degree may include courses in physiology, human development, group dynamics, research, and statistics, as well as current psychological therapies and theories. B.A. programs are for students interested in studying human behavior in preparation for work in the field of applied psychology. This specialty applies behavioral theories to determine how the mind influences operations of the human race. Some universities offer Applied Psychology as a major. Whereas, some degree programs offer a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology. Coursework may include cognitive psychology, child development, neuroscience, and social personality.

There are distinct programs offering a B.A. or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in psychology. The latter concentrates more on mathematics and the natural sciences. Students looking to facilitate future study in psychology or those preparing for careers in medicine or related health fields will benefit from the B.S. Coursework may also include the study of biological sciences and research methodologies. There are universities that offer both a B.A. and B.S. degree.

Fields of Study

Here is a synopsis of some of the disciplines:

Educational Psychology:  It is the study of how humans learn and retain knowledge, primarily in educational settings like classrooms. By studying these areas of education, it allows the psychologist to gain insight into any deficiencies or problems that may make it difficult for some people to learn.

Organizational Psychology:  This specialty often combines industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology.  I/O psychology requires knowledge of ethical considerations as well as statutory, administrative, and case law and executive orders as related to activities in the workplace. Coursework studies attitudes, career development, decision theory, human performance and human factors, and task analysis.

Forensic Psychology:  The American Psychology Association (APA) defines it as “a specialty in professional psychology characterized by activities primarily intended to provide professional psychological expertise within the judicial and legal systems”. Those who lean towards legal issues and criminal justice may prefer this specialty.

Counseling Psychology:  Encompasses a broad range of practices that help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress, overcome anxiety, resolve crises, and increase their ability to function with the struggles of daily living. Generally, counselors have a master’s or doctoral degree.

Health Psychology:  It studies the factors that allow people to be healthy, recover from an illness, or cope with a chronic condition. These psychologists work in private practices, hospitals and primary care programs, universities, corporations, government agencies and specialty practices.

A bachelor’s degree in psychology affords many avenues to specialize via more advanced degrees. However, an undergraduate degree could be the start of a rewarding career analyzing the mind and helping others in the process. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports the median salary at $75,230 with a growth rate of 14% or 22,600 job changes through 2026.

Additional articles on psychology from DegreeQuery that may interest you:

How fast can I complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology Online? 

The Hidden Benefits of a Degree in Psychology

Top 25 Online Master’s Degree Programs in Psychology

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