Is psychology a hard major? And what can you do with a psychology degree? We’ll go over all of that and more in this post.
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With over 127,000 psychology degrees being awarded in 2020 alone, psychology is an extremely popular major for college students.
But how hard is a psychology major? And is it the right major for you?
In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know to answer the question “is psychology a hard major?”.
Is Psychology A Hard Major?
A psychology major should expect courses about developmental, clinical, learning, behavioral, and abnormal psychology.
Psychology is uniquely challenging because it also intersects with so many other disciplines. Luckily, this allows psych majors to branch into many different career fields after graduation, some of which offer sizable salaries.
Let’s get down to what you actually want to know—is psychology a hard major? In short, it depends on the student.
For students that thrive in English but hate science, psychology is a very hard major.
For students that love biology but hate math, psychology is a hard major because psych requires some significant time in statistics classes.
But if you talk to a psychology major, you’ll most likely hear about how “interesting” they find their classes. After all, they’re learning about how the brain works and why people behave the way they do.
When a student actually enjoys what they’re studying, the subject can still be considered “hard” but also rewarding.
Once you have a bachelor’s in psychology, you’ll most likely move into educational, clinical, public service settings.
Popular careers after graduating as a psychology major range from clinical psychologists to social workers to psychiatrists, with some paths requiring more education than others.
What Are The Hardest Classes As A Psychology Major?
Like we mentioned, as a psychology major, you’ll encounter a broad range of courses and will have to navigate multiple fields of study. Usually, there will be a learning curve when you first start out as a psychology major.
Your Introduction to Psychology course may present a lot of new concepts that are challenging, depending on your high school background in psychology.
During your first couple of years, your more challenging classes will revolve around statistics and research methods.
This is where you seriously lay down the science foundation because psychology revolves around research. You’ll dive into experimental design, methodology, and how to use statistics to communicate results, which gets pretty hard.
Finally, classes that focus on the anatomy or chemistry of the brain are some of the hardest you’ll encounter.
These tend to be upper division courses, so you’ll be expected to know the material at a very high level.
Is Psychology Worth Majoring In?
Psychology is definitely worth majoring in. Thanks to expanding career options in counseling and mental health services, psychology is more popular than ever.
After majoring in psychology, you’ll have knowledge about human behavior, communication skills, and research skills that can apply to many professional fields.
Majoring in psychology also has a personal payoff. This major allows you to better understand yourself, the people around you, and how people interact.
You could say psychology is worth majoring in because it changes your view of yourself and the world.
What Will You Learn As A Psychology Major?
As a psychology major, you’ll dive into many different psychology-related topics, depending on your school.
Your first few introductory psychology courses will give you a broad overview, where you will learn about:
- The history behind psychology
- How brain cells work
- How memory works
- The motivation behind certain behaviors
- How the brain perceives the outside world
- And much more!
Once you’ve finished the more general psychology classes, you’ll learn about abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, and more.
That means that you’ll be learning about psychological disorders (abnormal psychology), how the brain develops during and after childhood (developmental psychology), and how to design psychology experiments (developmental psychology).
Depending on your school, you can also learn about the psychology behind social interactions, psychology based on sex, and what different parts of the brain do.
Is Psychology A Good Major?
With over 2.6 million psychology majors in the workforce, it appears that majoring in psychology really pays off.
Like we mentioned, a degree in psychology will provide you many transferable skills once you graduate. You’ll have experience in many intersecting fields of study and won’t be tied down to a single line of work.
But whether psychology is a good major or not depends on the person.
If you’re interested in science, psychology is a good major for you.
If you like working with people and want to and learn about why they think or act the way they do, psychology is a good major for you.
Can You Get Into Med School With A Psychology Degree
Yes, you can get into medical school with a psychology degree. Medical schools typically look for a certain amount of hours in biology, chemistry, physics, English, and psychology.
The specific requirements will vary from school to school.
As long as you take these prerequisite courses for medical school, you can get in with a psychology degree.
A psychology degree shows that you have a strong background in not only the sciences but the humanities. Doing well in both the experimental, STEM side of psychology and the humanities-based side will make you a competitive candidate for medical school.
What Kind Of Jobs Can You Get With A Psychology Major?
There are tons of different jobs that you fan get with a Psychology major. Here are some of the most popular:
A clinical psychologist can work in a variety of professional environments. They can conduct research, hold a consultation position, work directly with patients, or work in education.
That means they can be working with healthcare teams, elementary to high school students and teachers, or college students and staff.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical psychologists make a median salary of $81k per year and job growth for the next decade is average.
They can work in the aforementioned settings or have their own private practices where they help individuals interpret their thoughts and behaviors.
Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors mainly advise their clients to help them through mental and behavioral issues. They work in mental health centers, private practices prisons, and other niche settings.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for mental health counselors is just over $48k per year.
It is possible for one to enter this profession after receiving their bachelor’s in psychology, though they’d more than likely need a master’s.
In this field, the job outlook is rapidly increasing over the next decade.
Social Workers usually work in more emotionally taxing settings. They often work in child welfare, schools, and healthcare settings.
Their official job description entails working with and counseling clients and their families while acting as a liaison with community centers and law enforcement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers make a little over $50k a year on average. This is another profession that’s projected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years.
Usually, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s and sometimes a master’s to become a social worker, with some regions requiring certification as well.
As you can imagine, school psychologists work in schools. They work with students and their families to address behavioral issues that are interfering with school.
These schools are usually at the elementary through high school level, though school psychologists can also be found at some colleges and universities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a school psychologist is about $78k per year.
The National Association of School Psychologists is confident that this career will see growth in the next few decades.
They also note that those who will be competitive and benefit from this growth the most are those with doctoral degrees in school psychology.
Criminal Psychology And Forensics
According to Psy. D. Programs, criminal psychology and forensics focus on applying psychology to the legal and justice system. They often work with clients in either civil or criminal law and work closely with the courts, lawyers, and insurers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps criminal psychologists under the umbrella term of psychologists, who make a median salary of about $81k per year.
Other sources cite salaries as much as $96k on average in government positions. To pursue this career path, you’ll need a doctoral degree in psychology with a further specialization in forensics.
Psychiatrists are the ones who help evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental disorders. They typically work in healthcare settings like a doctor’s office or hospital with some working in residential care facilities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatrists make a median annual wage of $208k per year.
To become a psychiatrist, one would have to attend medical school and a residency in psychiatry. Their job growth in the next decade is above average.
How Much Money Can Psychology Majors Make?
Which Field Of Psychology Makes The Most Money?
While many professions within psychology pay moderately well, psychology majors that go into the health sciences make the most money.
Surgeons and physicians (like psychiatrists) are the highest paid professions out of those who graduate with psychology degrees. Surgeons make an average of $317,711 per year. Physicians average around $230,000 per year.
After that category, atmospheric and space scientists make the most at just under $200k. Sounds strange? As it turns out, this field of science needs psychologists to know the human side of the industry.
Can You Make 6 Figures With A Psychology Degree?
It is totally possible to make 6 figures with a psychology degree. In professions we mentioned above like surgeons, physicians, and atmospheric and space scientists, median salaries are well into the 6 figure range.
If you aren’t interested in these fields, you can still make 6 figures. Other careers that psychology majors can make 6 figures in include:
- secondary education
- postsecondary education
- industrial technology.
Last, but not least, are the psychiatrists. These physicians make over $200k per year on average. To be a psychiatrist, you’ll have to go through medical school and a psychiatry residency.
At the end of the day, a psychology major can make a solid 6 figure salary.
However, some of these higher paid professions require more schooling. That could look like medical school, a master’s program, or a PhD program.
Final Thoughts On Is Psychology A Hard Major
So, is psychology a hard major? By most definitions of “hard,” the answer is yes. A psychology major will have to work hard to understand the material.
They’ll learn everything from the principles of psychology to the anatomy of the brain to how attraction works. While they’re studying how the mind works, they’ll also be learning about research methods and how to communicate effectively.
Even if psychology can be an intense major, it pays off. Everything you learn in psychology directly applies to real life.
While you’re getting your degree in psychology, you’ll find that you pick up skills that can be applied to a broad range of careers.
But to make the most money, you’ll most likely have to continue your education in psychology after getting your bachelor’s.
Hopefully this article answered the question “is psychology a hard major?” for you. Heading to college soon? Here are some articles that may be helpful for you: