Psychology Degrees

Psychology is an immensely popular field of study among college students, and for good reason: It explores the fascinating realm of human motivations, capacities and abilities.

While "psychologist" is perhaps the most familiar occupational goal for psychology majors -- picture a tweedy therapist presiding over an office with a brown leather couch -- it is hardly the only professional path possible for these students. Fortunately, many psychology degree programs, including those at the University of Nevada, Reno, offer special emphases that help students tailor their educational experience to their career ambitions.

Before choosing any program in psychology, however, students should understand what an education in this field entails and the career options it can offer. 

What is psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. While other scientific fields, such as neuroscience, focus their studies on the physical structures of the brain, psychologists examine human actions to better understand the mind. Because the brain is the guiding force behind practically all behaviors, studying people's actions provides psychologists empirical insights into the way the mind operates. 

Psychologists may undertake work ranging from one-on-one therapy that employs psychological principles to help patients better understand and confront their problems -- recall the tweed-clad therapist -- to laboratory-based research studies that use controlled experiments to lend insight into human behavior and capacities. Accordingly, psychologists need grounding in both established psychological concepts and the processes by which new psychological concepts come to exist.

In terms of history, psychology is a relatively young science.  The first appearances of the term psychology date back to the late 19th century, and the American Psychological Association -- still one of the principal organizations in the field today -- was founded in 1892. Over the course of the 20th century, leading thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and B.F. Skinner helped bring psychological concepts into the American mainstream.

Today, the field comprises more than 173,000 working psychologists in the U.S. alone, according to 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

What can I do with a degree in psychology?

Psychology graduates have countless options to consider, both in the world of psychology and related fields. Although many people enter psychology with the intention of becoming therapists, there are numerous possible professional avenues beyond this.

Some psychology graduates may focus on physiological psychology, examining chemical interactions in the brain or pursuing research on how bodily functions affect psychological factors. Others may gravitate toward more high-tech areas of the field, such as the study of artificial intelligence or human-computer interface and software design. Still others may specialize in organizational management, focusing on training and supervision policies within companies or groups.

A minor or major in psychology can complement many fields outside of psychology, such as law, business and teaching. In fact, virtually every field outside of psychology includes some aspect that is relevant to psychologists. A fundamental knowledge of psychology can illuminate many basic principles of behavior, which can be a tremendous asset to anyone who wants to effectively communicate, persuade, supervise or teach.

Here are some careers that psychology majors commonly pursue, along with 2014-2015 BLS data on that profession's outlook:

Psychologists 

  • $72,580 median annual salary
  • 173,900 jobs in the U.S.
  • 19 percent projected growth in positions, 2014 to 2024

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists 

  • $43,190 median annual salary
  • 168,200 jobs in the U.S.
  • 19 percent projected growth in positions, 2014 to 2024

Postsecondary teachers 

  • $72,470 median annual salary
  • 1,313,000 jobs in the U.S.
  • 13 percent projected growth in positions, 2014 to 2024

School and Career Counselors 

  • $53,660 median annual salary
  • 273,400 jobs in the U.S.
  • 8 percent projected growth in positions, 2014 to 2024

Psychology is a very popular field of study at the University of Nevada, Reno. At the undergraduate level, there are currently more than 400 students majoring in psychology. Undergraduate students in the University's Department of Psychology are encouraged to participate in the scholarly and applied work of psychology at many different levels, from taking a wide variety of psychology courses (most of which are taught by doctorate-holding faculty members) to actively participating in research laboratories to working (for pay or credit) in one of many applied projects.

The Department of Psychology provides a tremendous breadth of training to students, preparing them extensively for graduate school and careers in psychology. Speaking of graduate school, for students aspiring to a psychology degree higher than a bachelor's, it helps immensely to work specifically toward that goal at least by the junior year. The psychology graduate programs at the University can help students see a fuller range of career possibilities in the field.  

How do I get started?

The University of Nevada, Reno offers numerous programs for students interested in psychology:

Prospective graduate students should note that the University also offers an Interdisciplinary Social Psychology Ph.D.

Ready to get started? You can browse programs through the links above or learn more about the discipline by visiting the University's Department of Psychology page.



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