Psychology majors learn about human behavior and its context. They study motivations, capacities and human abilities, and practitioners put this knowledge to work in the alleviation of human suffering.
Contemporary psychology is somewhat divided into different approaches or theories for understanding behavior. The organisms considered may range from chimps to pigeons, from humans to amoebas. Some psychologists believe it is most important to understand physiological processes (biological approach); others rarely, if ever, consider physiology. Some psychologists insist that we must investigate the deepest thoughts of the unconscious mind (psychoanalysis); others seek to understand mental structures and processes that underlie human performance (cognitivists). Meanwhile, others study the situated actions of organisms and deny that "mind" can be separated from this level of analysis (behaviorism). Psychology is far from being a unified field of research and practice. This will be one of the questions you will have to answer for yourself: which field, or perspective, of psychology is the most interesting to you.
Areas of study include the physiology of the brain and nervous system, cognition, learning, child psychology, abnormal psychology and animal behavior.
Where Can I Go With Psychology?
A basic knowledge of psychology can illuminate some basic principles of behavior -- a tremendous asset if you want to communicate effectively, persuade, supervise or teach. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate degrees. Many majors use it as a base for a liberal arts education, or as a foundation for work in other fields such as medicine, law, business, human services, management, sales and the like.
In addition to those listed, students might be interested in pursuing a degree in related areas oriented toward applied practice. Two of these options, not described here, are a master's degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology (CEP), which is offered by the College of Education, and a master's degree in Social Work (MSW), offered through the Division of Health Science.
For the current catalog year, visit the University catalog.