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Why Psychology?

What is Psychology?

Psychology is a field of the social sciences that studies the human & animal behavior and focuses on how motivation, emotion, and thought process function in relation to each other.  There are several fields of psychology which include Industrial- Organizational Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Health Psychology, Developmental Psychology, School Psychology, and all have specific orientations when it comes learning behavior in hope to answer scientific inquires. It is important to know that there are several options one can go with in pursuing a career in Psychology, and it is important to do the necessary research in order to understand the various differences.

Fields of Psychology

Applied Psychology

      Clinical Psychology. Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems. They may act as therapists for people who are experiencing normal psychological crises (e.g., grief) or for individuals suffering from chronic psychiatric disorders. Some clinical psychologists are generalists who work with a wide variety of populations, while others work with specific groups such as children, the elderly, or those with specific disorders (e.g., eating disorders). They are trained in universities or professional schools of psychology. Clinical psychologists work in academic settings, hospitals, community health centers, or private practice.

      Counseling Psychology. Counseling psychologists do many of the same things that clinical psychologists do. However, counseling psychologists tend to focus more on persons with adjustment problems rather than on persons suffering from severe psychological disorders. They may be trained in psychology departments or in education departments. Counseling psychologists are employed in academic settings, college counseling centers, community mental health centers, and private practice.

      Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I/O psychologists (as they are usually called) are concerned with the relationships between people and their work environments. They may develop new ways to increase workplace productivity or be involved in personnel selection. They are employed in business, government agencies, and academic settings.

      Forensic Psychology. The title "forensic psychologist" can mean quite a number of things. Some forensic psychologists do clinical work in corrections settings; some work as consultants to trial lawyers; some serve as expert witnesses in jury trials; some formulate public policy on psychology and the law. Some forensic psychologists have PhDs in clinical psychology; others have both PhDs in clinical psychology and JDs in law. (There are several graduate programs in the country where you can earn the two degrees at the same time.)

      Health Psychology. Health psychologists are concerned with psychology's contributions to the promotion and maintenance of good health and the prevention and treatment of illness. They may design and conduct programs to help individuals stop smoking, lose weight, manage stress, and stay physically fit. They are employed in hospitals, medical schools, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, academic settings, and private practice.

      Sports Psychology. Sports psychologists are concerned with the psychological factors that improve athletic performance. They also look at the effects of exercise and physical activity on psychological adjustment and health. Sports psychologists typically work in academic settings and/or as consultants for sports teams.


    Educational Psychology. Educational psychologists attempt to understand the basic aspects of human learning and to develop materials and strategies for enhancing the learning process. For example, an educational psychologist might study reading and then develop a new technique for teaching reading. Educational psychologists are typically trained in departments of education (vs. departments of psychology) and employed in colleges and universities.

    School Counseling. School counselors work with children who are troubled, helping such children function more effectively with their peers and teachers, deal with family problems, etc. They work at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

    School Psychology. The work of school psychologists, who work in the public school system, is varied. A key aspect of the school psychologist's job is testing--mostly of children who are having difficulties in school--to try to diagnose the problem and, sometimes, to suggest ways of dealing with the problem. School psychologists also work closely with teachers to develop effective interventions for children in academic, emotional, and behavioral problems. Too, some provide individual and group counseling. Most school psychologists are trained in departments of education, but some are trained in psychology departments.

    [Information adapted from: Lloyd, M.A. (2002, November 1). Master's- and doctoral-level careers in psychology and related areas. [Online].
    Available: http://www.psychwww.com/careers/masters.htm ]

    To view more information about the fields in Psychology, please check out
    American Psychological Association's Careers in Psychology Page.

Degrees in Psychology

There are different letters that come with each degree. See below for various definitions.

B.A in Psychology = Bachelor of Arts Degree - Less scientific in coursework than the BS degree.
B.S. in Psychology = Bachelor of Science Degree - More research oriented than the BA degree (Usually requires one or more research classes).
M.A in Psychology = Masters of Arts Degree - Less research emphasis than the MS degree.
M.S in Psychology = Masters of Science Degree - Generally requires more research and related coursework than the MA degree.
Ph.D. in Psychology = Doctor of Philosophy - Relies heavily on research and statistics, more faculty & experimenter oriented.
Psy.D. in Psychology = Doctor of Psychology - Less research oriented than the PhD degree, more of a practitioner model
                                                (doctorate thesis may not be required depending on program).

To view more in-depth information about the different degrees in Psychology, please click here.


What to do with a Psychology Degree?

Students who graduate with a BS/BA degree tend to go into fields such as psychiatric assistant, store manager, research assistant, case worker, counselor, correction officer, etc. Click here to view detailed information about BS/BA positions in Psychology. Data about expected salaries in different fields with a BA/BS degrees can be viewed here.

Students who graduate with MA/MS degree in Psychology can explore careers such as art therapist, career counselor, clinical supervisor, drama therapist, program evaluator, etc. To view expected salary levels, please click here.

Students graduating with a Ph.D. or Psy.D, tend to gravitate toward professions within academia and research.
To view salary information for Ph.D/Psy.D's, please click here.

Click here to view a table comparing potential careers for MS/MA and doctorate graduates.


Applying for Graduate School

It can be hard to know where to apply for graduate school or know what kind of knowledge goes into applying for a program. If you want further information about what schools offer and require, you can visit our Psychology Directory for links to various pages that are of useful information.
If you need some helpful advice on how to apply for graduate school,
please visit our Application for Graduate School Slide Show, or visit Getting into Graduate School.

Click here to view an excellent link for different Psychology Departments across the US.

To view International links to different Psychology Departments, click here.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this site or psychology in general, please e-mail me,
 I would love to hear from you.  


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