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Why Is Psychology Such A Popular Major?

A trend in education that has seemed to hold steady over the past few decades is a consistent interest in the field of Psychology. According to estimates, between 1.2 million and 1.6 million undergraduates take introductory psychology classes each year (American Psychologist), and many of those students go on to become psychology majors. Either because of an inherent interest in human nature, or because of what appears to be solidly-increasing career opportunities, psychology has been and continues to be one of the most popular choices in undergraduate education.

According to USA Today College, Bachelor’s degrees in psychology are the second most popular undergraduate major in the United States today. Since the early 1990s, the share of college students majoring in psychology has remained steady at about 6 to 6.5 percent, up from about 4 to 5 percent in the 1980s. Among specific fields within the science and engineering disciplines, psychology is the number one choice of major. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), psychology is more popular than biological sciences, physics and astronomy, mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science, information sciences, the other social sciences and many other majors. In the 2014–15 academic year, U.S. schools awarded more than 117,000 Bachelor’s degrees in psychology.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for psychologists overall will grow by 14 percent between 2016 and 2026. This especially strong job growth is much faster than the 7 percent average growth predicted for all occupations. Job openings for clinical, counseling and school psychologists are expected to grow at an even faster rate than employment for psychologists overall. There is an expected 20 percent increase for these specialized psychologists, propelled by the need for services for veterans with war-related trauma, older people with aging concerns, and people with autism.  Additionally, the unemployment rate for psychologists is very low.

Besides perhaps the desire to be of service to others, many people choose to study psychology because they find the study of how and why people behave the way they do to be inherently interesting. Studies have confirmed that interest in the subject matter is one of the most frequently cited reasons that undergraduate psychology majors give when asked why they chose psychology for their field of study. Psychology provides insight into many aspects of human and animal behavior. Topics covered in the study of psychology often include:

  • Interpersonal behavior (attraction, aggression, prejudice, compliance, etc.)
  • Learning
  • Development
  • Cognition
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Mind-body relationships
  • Addiction
  • Sexuality

After graduation, many psychology majors pursue careers in fields directly related to psychology, including therapy, counseling, rehabilitation, and psychiatry. However, many others end up working in fields that are largely unrelated to psychology. Some of the non-psychology related fields that psychology majors choose to pursue include management and administration, sales and marketing, real estate, social work, law, labor relations, corporate training, and education.

Why do many psychology majors end up working in fields that are largely unrelated to psychology? The main reason is because psychology degrees teach a wide variety of skills that are transferable to other fields, such as:

  • Understanding human behavior (applicable for careers in marketing, education, law, management, and more)
  • Tolerance of people with different backgrounds and worldviews (applicable for careers in management, social work, education, and more)
  • Developing rapport at the group level (applicable for careers in education, corporate training, labor relations, management, and more)
  • Collecting, recording, organizing, analyzing and interpreting data (applicable for careers in marketing, social work, education, real estate and more)
  • Writing (applicable for careers in law, education, marketing, corporate training and more)

There are also many psychology majors who choose to further their studies by pursuing a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. Obtaining additional education in psychology opens up additional job opportunities such as:

  • Behavioral counselor
  • Rehabilitation specialist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Psychiatrist

For those people who are interested in the field of psychology, getting a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution is the first step. William Jessup University is a full-service Christian college with locations in San Jose and Sacramento, California. Jessup offers an undergraduate degree in psychology for individuals who are just starting college for their first time. Jessup also offers Adult Degree Completion (ADC) for students looking to complete a bachelor’s degree that they started elsewhere. If you are interested in a rewarding career in which you can be of service to others, don’t wait any longer; call Jessup today to start your training for a Christ-centered career.

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