Why do people act, think, and feel the ways they do? Psychology is a science focused on answering these questions. Psychology majors at Columbia College learn about themselves and others in ways that promote personal growth and greater effectiveness in working with people. Graduates develop a better understanding of effective leadership, interpersonal skills, and group dynamics that provide them with a distinct professional advantage. In the program students learn the foundational aspects of psychological research and how to critically evaluate others’ research. Because psychology includes several different areas of study, psychology majors have a great deal of flexibility and may choose courses focusing on different aspects of behavior (such as social, developmental, and clinical).
AMPS (Association for Mindful Psychology Students) is a student-led organization for psychology majors and students interested in psychology that meets approximately once a month. Guest speakers, community volunteer opportunies, graduate program information, and social events are among the many AMPS activities. Students who meet the academic criteria may also apply to become members of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?
In some fields, a bachelor’s degree prepares you for a specific job or role within that field. For example, a bachelor’s degree in education prepares students for a job in teaching. However, in psychology, most jobs involving counseling, research, or administration (i.e., work as a psychologist) requires a graduate degree. Nationwide, psychology is a popular major, and the large majority of people who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not go to graduate school. What do they do? Because the answer varies so widely, it is a difficult question. There are career possibilities in research or mental health with a bachelor’s degree. However, most psychology majors go into fields other than psychological research or mental health.
General Job Skills Possessed by Psychology Students
Students often do not realize some of the important skills they have acquired while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology that are desired by potential employers. These skills include:
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Organization of tasks and information
- Research skills
- Data interpretation
- Leadership and managerial skills
- Effective interpersonal communication
- Small-group skills (team building, conflict management)
- Sensitivity to individual differences
- Crisis intervention (listening, referral)
- Basic counseling skills with individuals and groups
- Understanding of behavioral and emotional disorders
Careers Within Psychology
There are certain jobs in mental health or research that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, such as research assistant or case manager. Psychiatric wards and community mental health centers typically hire people with bachelor’s degrees to maintain day-to-day contacts with clients (typically those with severe mental disorders). Other mental health agencies may hire people with bachelor’s degrees to manage cases or to coordinate services. For example, an agency that relies on volunteers typically has a “volunteer coordinator,” a hired person who oversees and organizes the activities of the volunteers. Or, agencies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters hires people with bachelor’s degrees to match children with partners and to follow up on those cases.
Careers Outside Psychology
Many Psychology majors go on to employment in areas outside of mental health or psychological research. It is difficult to describe the various roles psychology graduates play because they are so varied. The following is a (very) incomplete list of career fields for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who wish to pursue a career outside of psychology.
- Public Relations
- Human Resources
- Marketing/Market Research
- Criminal Justice
- Social Work
- Public/Community Health
- Higher Education Administration
Dr. Karen Thompson, Psychology Program Coordinator and Faculty Advisor for AMPS/Psi Chi
Wil Lou Gray 116