How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Do you want a career in psychology? The place to start is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in psychology teaches you the fundamentals of psychology and mental health practice. It provides the critical basics in psychology, so you can eventually earn your master’s and even your doctoral degree to practice as a licensed psychologist.
The bachelor’s degree in psychology takes approximately four years to earn. A Bachelor of Arts program may have a more liberal arts focus, while a Bachelor of Science may focus more on the science side of psychology and related fields.
If you want to be a psychologist someday, getting your bachelor’s degree is crucial. Learn more about what it takes to earn this critical undergraduate degree below.
Meet Admission Requirements
To earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology, you will need your high school diploma or GED. Specific entry requirements vary by program, but common requirements are:
- 3.0 GPA or higher
- Official high school transcripts
- Two or three letters of recommendation
- Writing samples and statement of purpose
Some of the classes you should take in high school to prepare for your bachelor’s program are psychology, sociology, statistics, ethics, and communication courses. Check with your bachelor’s program for more specific entry requirements.
Choose Online or On-Campus Program
It has never been easier to earn your bachelor’s in psychology. One of the first things to decide is whether you want to earn your psychology degree online or on campus. Many undergraduate students earn their degrees on campus.
However, you can get your undergraduate degree online and go to a school far from where you live. You also can earn your degree on your own schedule and sometimes graduate in as few as three years.
Some of the courses you would take in Walden University’s online bachelor’s program are:
- Cross-Cultural Psychology
- Theories of Personality
- Basic Statistics
- Methods in Psychological Inquiry
- Psychology of Gender
- Social Influences on Gender
- Global Perspectives in Psychology
- Brain and Behavior
- Cognitive Psychology
Learn Essential Psychology Concepts
Once you have chosen your bachelor’s program and been accepted, you will be on your way to earning your degree. A bachelor’s program in psychology provides a broad overview of the field, a primer in scientific methodology and core mental health counseling concepts.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are five learning goals for undergraduates in psychology:
- Knowledgebase in psychology: Undergraduates should be able to discuss the key areas of psychology, applications, and principles.
- Scientific inquiry and critical thinking: Students should be able to practice scientific reasoning, solve problems, and interpret human behavior.
- Ethical and social responsibility in a diverse world: Students should develop a sense of social and ethical responsibility and apply it to relationships and science.
- Communication: Undergraduates should be able to write effectively, present information, and communicate well with others.
- Professional development: Bachelor’s degree students should be able to define career goals and view their new skills in relation to their chosen career path.
Choose a Psychology Concentration
Some bachelor’s in psychology students earn a general degree in the field. But if you intend to become a psychologist later with a master’s or doctoral degree, you might want to take some classes in specific areas of psychology.
Some of the common areas of psychology to consider for your future profession are:
- Clinical psychology: Assess and treat serious mental disorders. This is the most common psychology specialty for master’s and doctoral degree holders.
- Counseling psychology: Provide mental health counseling to people with mental, emotional, and relationship problems. May work with individuals, families, or groups.
- Developmental psychology: Study the cognitive, physiological, and social development that occurs throughout life. Some psychologists specialize in behavior in childhood, infancy, or adolescence.
- Educational psychology: Perform research on classroom dynamics, learning variables, and teaching styles.
- Forensic psychology: Study crime prevention, rehabilitation programs, courtroom issues, psychology, and how it affects the law.
- Industrial-organizational psychology: Apply psychological techniques and principles to the workplace to enhance productivity.
- Geriatric psychology: Deal with special issues that the elderly face, such as mental and emotional health issues that accompany the aging process.
- School psychology: Work in elementary, secondary, and high schools to address students’ learning and behavior issues.
- Sports psychology: Assist athletes with their competition goals, motivation, and how to deal with fear and anxiety in competition.
After you earn your bachelor’s degree, you will reach a key decision point. Do you want to find work with your bachelor’s degree in non-clinical environments? Or do you want to move on to earn your master’s degree so you can earn your license as a psychologist?
A master’s degree is the minimum degree required to be a practicing psychologist. However, to practice independently, you will also need to earn your Ph.D. or PsyD in psychology.
It all comes down to whether your career goal is to be a licensed psychologist or you will be happy working in supporting, non-clinical roles with your bachelor’s degree.
Job Demand and Salary
Earning your bachelor’s degree in psychology is an essential stepping stone to a productive career in the field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for psychologists is $80,370. The lowest 10% earned less than $45,380 and the top 10% earned more than $132,070 per year.
After you earn your bachelor’s, you may earn your master’s degree and licensure and begin working as a psychologist – under the supervision of a Ph.D. in the field.
Employment for psychologists is on the rise, with a 14% increase in demand by 2028. Employment of counseling and clinical psychologists is increasing because of the higher demand for mental health services in hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies.
What The Other Experts Say
To learn what the experts have to say about getting a bachelor’s in psychology:
- “I found [a bachelor’s in psychology] to be valuable in the job market. Quantitatively it was valuable in a management position with a political market research firm. I was also able to qualify for and obtain positions in substance abuse counseling with co-occurring diagnoses both in the public and private sectors. I also worked with a psychiatric rehabilitation firm as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Coordinator (some counseling was involved).” – Stephen Ten Eyck, Counseling Psychology Major, George Mason University.
- “I found my psychology degree invaluable in getting a variety of jobs. Like any Liberal Arts degree, you need to market yourself well & show employers how it applies and what value you can bring though. After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology, I worked in personnel management, addictions counseling (group work, not individual sessions which required a master’s or better), writing & editing, non-profit organization marketing, and outdoor experiential education/youth counseling. Friends with the same degree worked in politics, advertising, research, sales, business, and other fields.” – James Martindale, International Teacher.
- “Following a [bachelor’s in psychology] curriculum gives the learner a sense of where to start and how to proceed with each sub-field in psych. Also, for a lot of learners, having a professor to guide you through the rigors of the discipline – giving graded tasks, challenges, and then feedback – helps affirm learning. Second, professionally, having a psychology degree opens up a wide range of career options–from the medical/clinical, academic, industrial/organizational, research, and even legal/forensic fields.” – Caressa Lynn Siglos, Ph.D. Psychology, University of St. La Salle.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology is the first step to becoming a licensed psychologist. Demand for psychologists is rising and the salaries are excellent. So if being a psychologist is what you want, getting your bachelor’s in the field is a vital investment in your future.
- Bachelor’s in Psychology Curriculum. Accessed at https://www.waldenu.edu/online-bachelors-programs/bs-in-psychology/curriculum/general-psychology
- Bachelor’s in Psychology Learning Goals. Accessed at https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/about/undergraduate-major
- Psychologist Salaries. Accessed at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-5
- Psychologist Job Demand. Accessed at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-6