- Undergraduate Program
- Why Major in Psychology?
- Honors in Psychology
- Psychology Courses Descriptions
- Undergraduate Resources
Department of Psychology
Cramer Hall, 317
604 N. 16th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Although no listing of possible psychology-related jobs can be exhaustive or completely accurate, the chart below distinguishes between typical jobs associated with a bachelor’s degree and jobs associated with careers that routinely involve training beyond the baccalaureate level.
Critics often malign the baccalaureate degree in psychology as ineffective preparation for the workforce. However, the list below of potential careers for someone with a bachelor’s degree suggests that a psychology major’s skills can be effectively deployed in a variety of workplace contexts, including human services, health care, research, sales and marketing, and many others. A psychology background can help students be competitive in these job areas. even if a student receives a bachelor’s degree in psychology, that student is not required to go into a psychology-related field when entering the workforce. Consequently, psychology graduates may emerge in occupations that would not necessarily be expected from their academic preparation.
College graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology may find jobs in psychology-related areas, such as state or local rehabilitation and social service agencies, civil service, human resources departments, and institutions that provide care for people with physical and emotional disabilities.
Potential Careers for Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree
An incomplete list of careers that someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology could have, compiled by the American Psychological Association (APA), includes:
Marquette’s undergraduate curriculum prepares students for the graduate study required for a career as a mental health professional. It is also good preparation for careers (requiring further education) in education, business, law, dentistry, medicine, and other health-related fields.
Careers Requiring a Degree Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
There are many careers in the mental health field (i.e., as a mental health professional) that require a master’s degree, such as board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) or licensed behavior analysit (LBA), social work, mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, academic counseling, art or music therapy, vocational rehabilitation counseling, college counseling, college guidance, and many more. School and guidance counselors might have a master’s in education, counseling, or educational counseling. A relatively new field is the master’s degree in human resources, and these professionals help companies and organizations manage their workers.
Of course, many mental health professionals have a doctoral degree. Psychiatrists have either a degree in medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O.). A licensed psychologist (i.e., a clinical psychologist) will have either a Ph.D. (doctorate in philosophy in clinical or counseling psychology), a board certified behavior analyst - Doctoral Level (BCBA-D) or licensed behavior analyst (LBA) will have a PhD in behavior analysis or psychology with an emphasis in behavior analysis, a Psy.D. (doctorate of psychology in clinical or counseling psychology), or an Ed.D. (doctorate of education in clinical or counseling psychology). A subfield of clinical psychology is neuropsychology, which specializes in the association between brain activity and thoughts, feelings and behavior. Another subfield of clinical psychology is forensic psychology, which is the specialty dedicated to understanding and practicing at the intersection between mental health and the law (e.g., a court examiner asked to evaluate the mental health of someone accused of a crime might be a forensic psychologist).
There are research and academic careers that require a doctorate in psychology. Experimental psychologists include those with a Ph.D. in statistics, research methods, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, comparative psychology, and etc.
Other mental health professionals include advanced practice psychiatric nurses (sometimes called “psychiatric nurses”) and substance abuse counselors.
Other careers that require study beyond the bachelor’s degree in psychology include law, medicine (including physician assistant or medical assistant programs), the ministry, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and many others.
Psychology and the Health Professions
Psychology is a popular major among premed students, as well as those interested in other health-related professions. National statistics show that students who major in psychology are as likely to be admitted to medical school as those who major in biology or chemistry. Psychology majors can easily complete required premed courses, which are the same as or similar to those required for entry to many other health-related professional schools. Indeed, psychology is particularly valuable for those premedical students interested in neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, or behavioral medicine.
PSYC 3420 (Health Psychology) is especially relevant for students interested in health professions. Students interested in the health professions should also consider courses with a strong neuroscience component, such as PSYC 3601( Biopsychology) or PSYC 3650 (Affective Neuroscience). Either course in developmental psychology (PSYC 3101 or 3120) will help future doctors appreciate differences among their patients that relate to the difference in their ages, as well as to better understand the ways in which their social development, personality, cognitive skills, and physical well-being can all affect each other. In addition, many of our courses, especially those in social and personality psychology, will enhance the sensitivity of health care providers to the clients they serve.
Research-oriented courses can be especially valuable for those entering medicine or any other career in which they are likely to engage in ongoing reading of research reports documenting new developments in the field. Hands-on research experience through PSYC 4956 is thus valuable.
Psychology and Law
Admission to law school requires no specific major and no specific prerequisite courses. Psychology is one of many undergraduate majors chosen by pre-law students.
Success in law school and in the practice of law require the ability to carefully analyze a problem, to collect relevant information, to combine information from various sources to reach a conclusion, and to communicate your conclusion to others. These are all skills that students acquire through the study of psychology, particularly through our required research courses (PSYC 2001 and PSYC 2050, as well as the upper-level, independent research experiences with faculty).
Courses in cognition (PSYC 3320) can help pre-law students learn more about how people perceive and interpret information. The course in childhood development (PSYC 3101) can help future attorneys who focus on children and adolescents and family law. Courses such as PSYC 3201 (Social Psychology) and PSYC 3210 (Prejudice) are important for understanding why people act in both good and bad ways, not to mention providing information about techniques of persuasion, the interpretation of evidence, and the interpersonal processes relevant in legal settings. Finally, the courses related to mental illness across the lifespans (PSYC 3401 and 3410) may provide useful insights for those interested in criminal law or in law related to mental health.
Psychology and Business
Both the understanding of human behavior and the skill in analysis of data provided by a major in psychology are very useful to students interested in careers in management and business. Market research, human resources, advertising, and sales make direct use of knowledge gained in psychology courses. Students interested in business typically enter the work force soon after completing the requirements for a BA. Many return to school a few years later to obtain an MBA (Master in Business Administration) or another advanced degree.
Certain psychology courses are especially relevant for students thinking of careers in business. These include courses in cognition (PSYC 3320), which teaches how people perceive and interpret information; Social Psychology (PSYC 3201), which teaches how people are influenced by each other; and the required course in data analysis (PSYC 2001) and research methods (PSYC 2050).
There are two courses in the Department of Psychology that are specifically designed for students interested in careers in business. Business and Organizational Psychology (PSYC 3230) examines basic problems of business, including personnel selection, motivation, training, job satisfaction, job safety,
leadership, performance appraisal, and legal issues. Human Factors in Engineering (PSYC 4330) examines person-machine interactions (including sensory and motor phenomena and human limitations) human information processing, artificial intelligence, and workspace and environmental factors that influence performance.
Social Services and Clinical/Counseling
Of course, many students major in psychology because they are fascinated by people. They want to learn more about why people behave as they do, and they are motivated to help people improve their lives. Some students obtain social service positions in community centers, schools, treatment facilities, and other agencies directly after graduation. Students with interests in social service often choose to take many of their psychology courses in social, developmental, personality and clinical psychology.
Many other majors will seek advanced training in a graduate program to pursue these interests. A major in psychology is an excellent means to obtaining admission to a graduate program that will train students for such careers. Professions such as clinical psychology, counseling, and social work fit well with these interests. The courses related to mental illness in adults or in children (PSYC 3401 and 3410) are highly relevant to such careers. Two upper-level courses Introduction to Clinical Psychology (PSYC 4701) and Psychology of Marriage and Family (PSYC 4720) are excellent introductions to careers as a mental health professional. The biologically-oriented courses (PSYC 360 and PSYC 3650) are also excellent foundations for advanced study.
Any student intending on a people-oriented profession — either immediately after graduation or after further study in graduate school—is strongly encouraged to gain some social service experience while in school. Tutoring, volunteering at a teen drop-in center or a hospital, working as a camp counselor, and answering phones for a helpline can all be relevant experiences. If your goal is to work with some specific population — troubled teens, the elderly, autistic children — try to gain some firsthand experience with this population.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed videos which describe careers in applied psychology. The videos feature panelists discussing their career paths and job responsibilities.