If you’re the inquisitive and learned type, you may already know that psychology is among the most popular college majors in the United States. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2019, 6% (or 116,500) of the 2 million bachelor’s degrees handed out were to psychology graduates – making it the fourth most popular of all college majors.
What Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines psychology as “the study of the mind and behavior,” and if you’re interested in how others learn, think, and behave, a bachelor’s program teaches you to harness your knowledge and skills so they can be applied in a variety of settings.
A psychology degree prepares you to enter the workforce or take the next step in your career with a comprehensive understanding of how human behavior impacts the dynamics of modern businesses and other organizations.
So, if you are indeed inquisitive and learned, you already fit the mold of a budding psychology student and would be a perfect candidate for a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
What Will I Learn in a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology Program?
A Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is a foundational degree program upon which you can build your career. Beyond examining topics associated with the mind and behavior, you will learn how psychology is applied in professional settings, and the expectations that come with being an expert in your field. For example, graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program at the University of Arizona Global Campus will be able to:
- Demonstrate breadth of psychological knowledge
- Analyze information and data with scientific thinking
- Defend ethics, social justice, and diversity
- Illustrate professional communication skills
- Apply professional skills to career planning and success
Further, your BA in psychology program will strengthen coveted soft skills that today’s employers find invaluable. The APA breaks down these skills into five categories.
Judgment and decision-making
Flexibility/adaptability to new systems
Familiarity with hardware and software
What Courses Will I Take for My Bachelor’s in Psychology?
The core curriculum in your bachelor’s program will cover topics that include physiology, human development, group dynamics, research and statistics, and the most up-to-date psychological therapies and theories. When researching the right program for you, be sure the curriculum explores the following critical concepts.
Psychology of Learning
Learning is the relatively permanent change in behavior and mental processes resulting from experience. A Psychology of Learning course will cover the application of learning theory and research in a wide range of settings where learning takes place.
Child & Adolescent Development
This course provides a basic introduction to the nature of human growth and development from conception through adolescence. Students are provided the opportunity to explore the physical, psychosocial, and cognitive factors of growth and development from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. The context and impact of the family and society as well as individual, cultural, moral, and linguistic differences on development will be covered.
This course examines the influence of an organization on the individual, as well as ways an individual can influence an organization. Topics include recruiting, personnel selection, organizational climate, group problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Students explore how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals are influenced by other human beings in a variety of social situations. This course also entails a survey and critical analysis of the various methods used by researchers in social psychology. Topics include: social cognition, aggression, prejudice, interpersonal attraction, altruistic behavior, conformity, group influences, and conflict resolution.
Research Methods is an introduction to the foundations of research methodology, design, and analysis. Basic principles of qualitative and quantitative research are explored and evaluated. Understanding the results of statistical analysis as it applies to research is a focus of this curriculum.
This course provides a synthesis of the major ideas, perspectives, theories, and concepts gained from the study of psychology. Students will develop a final product that will support your future career and academic advancement, providing the opportunity to integrate key learning and knowledge gained throughout your degree program. Prerequisites: Successful completion of the General Education Capstone course and the majority of the psychology major coursework.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in Psychology?
A traditional bachelor’s degree program is comprised of 120 educational credits that can be earned within four years and includes a combination of core courses, general education courses, and electives. However, some schools, such as the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), allow you to speed up your time to graduation by transferring credits from community college courses, prior learning assessments, national testing programs, and military or work experience.
Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology Available Online?
Many leading schools offer psychology degree programs online, which can be a tremendous benefit to working adults who balance multiple priorities. UAGC, for example, offers a flexible path to graduation by allowing you to take one course at a time over a series of weeks (typically one course over five weeks), and still graduate within the traditional four-year timeline.
It’s important you receive a relevant, up-to-date education, and for that you will want to ensure your school of choice has the proper accreditations. Global Campus is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
What Can I Do with A Psychology Degree?
A psychology degree will leave you with multiple options after graduation, both in the academic and professional arenas. If you’re pursuing the latter, an undergraduate psychology degree can prepare you for fields that include:
- Public administration
- Criminal justice
- Social services
- Human resources
Psychology is a fast-growing field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the agency that analyzes and reports unemployment data. For the top industries in which psychologists are employed, the BLS found the median annual wage to be:
- Government: $100,360
- Hospitals: $90,640
- Ambulatory health care services: $85,970
- Elementary and secondary schools: $77,560
There are many different types of psychologists employed across various industries, including:
- Clinical psychologists
- Counseling psychologists
- Developmental psychologists
- Forensic psychologists
- Industrial-organizational psychologists
- Rehabilitation psychologists
- School psychologists
If you choose to continue your pursuit of lifelong learning after completing your bachelor’s program, your path will take you to the Master of Arts in Psychology, which can be followed by a PhD in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. These advanced degrees are required if you’re pursuing a career as a research or clinical psychologist. You will also likely need to pursue the licensing process. Those requirements vary, but the APA can be a helpful resource for licensing.
Six Signs of a Great Psychology Student
There are certain qualities that all psychology students share. If you’ve been considering your bachelor’s degree in psychology, see if you match up with any of these six telltale signs:
1. Research doesn’t scare you.
Psychology students fear nothing when it comes time to hit the books and organize thoughts and theories. If your research skills are in progress, your coursework will sharpen them immensely, so you’ll have no trouble posing questions, positing theories, and uncovering answers.
2. You put your skills to practice at work.
Psychology students, especially those with an interest in organizational psychology, often find themselves analyzing everything from the behavior of their co-workers to how teams could better work together company-wide.
3. You’re an advocate for APA writing style.
The APA writing guidelines are the standard format for many colleges, including Global Campus. Psychology students take special pride in mastering APA format, as it’s forever linked to their degree and may be the format they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
4. You seek out like-minded peers.
Whether your classroom is in-person or online, psychology students don’t want their college experience to feel impersonal, and they’re eager to connect with students who share similar interests. Depending on your university, you may even get more involved through a student psychology club or through the resources of the APA.
5. You have loftier goals, and your degree is just the beginning.
Because psychology is a growth area and the experience is valued in multiple industries, many students use their degrees as stepping-stones to in their careers. Whether you want to pursue a master’s degree or private practice, your pursuit of lifelong learning begins with your bachelor’s.
6. You can’t resist dabbling in diagnosis.
Psychology majors and prospective students likely have this one in common. You know you’re not supposed to, you can’t even be sure if your theories are correct, but as a potential psychology student, you may wind up “diagnosing” yourself or those around you. You can’t help it; sometimes you have to share out loud your theories on why the cat refuses to sleep anywhere but your pillow, or why your younger sibling does “that thing” that has annoyed you for years.
Does this sound like you? If you’ve been looking for a versatile degree that will prepare you for a career in the field you’re most passionate about, talk to a UAGC advisor about your online bachelor’s degree in psychology today.
Written by University Staff
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.
Successful completion of the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree by itself does not lead to licensure or certification in any state, regardless of concentration or specialization.