If psychology interests you, you have something in common with the ancient Greek philosophers. They asked questions about the life of the mind: What is the relationship between mind and body? How can we tell if the world is really the way we think it is?
Today's psychologists study all sorts of fascinating questions, such as the following: Why is learning a language as an infant easier than as a teenager? What are the roots of violence? What is the best way to help someone with an eating disorder like anorexia?
Psychology majors study the way humans and animals act, feel, think, and learn.
“People think psychology is … head shrinking, [but] psychology today is also about learning what, biologically, causes people to behave in a certain way.” Dan, senior, psychology and biology, University of Virginia
Are You Ready To...?
- Join a psychology club or the national psychology honor society, Psi Chi
- Help others as an intern at a shelter, prison, special-education classroom, or another site
- Take advanced seminars with titles like The Psychology of Homicide and Beliefs, Attitudes, and Ideologies
- Possibly present your research at conferences and submit it to professional journals
- Hang out in labs, getting to know research methods, profs, and other students
It Helps To Be...
Good at science, math, critical reading, and writing. This is a great major if you want to understand and help people of all kinds.
- Is the psychology major so popular that it's hard to get into?
- Does the program strike a balance between psychology as a natural science and psychology as a social science, or does it emphasize one approach over the other?
- What are the research labs like?
- What kinds of research do professors do?
- Will you have contact with full-time professors even when you're starting out?
- Does the department offer courses that will allow you to get your feet wet in specialties like counseling and industrial/organizational psychology?
- What kinds of internships will you be able to choose from?
Did You Know?
To work as a professional in psychology, you'll most likely need a graduate degree.
There's a good chance you'll have to finish a general psychology class with a C or better before you can apply to become a psych major. These courses are usually large lectures covering almost every subject in the field that is taught to undergrads. Your grade will probably be based mostly on exams with multiple-choice and short-essay questions. You might also write short papers on current research in the field. And don't be surprised if you play the part of human guinea pig in a research study.