Career Options and Guidance

Courses and programs in the department are structured around three major career options: (1) the general education option; (2) the graduate school option; and (3) applied options.

The General Education Option
For students primarily interested in a liberal education or in a background for other professions, the core program will in most cases be sufficient. In consulting with their advisor, students may wish to choose several other psychology courses beyond the 38-hour requirements. Electives in psychology, courses for the minors, and additional courses in the arts, sciences, humanities, and pre-professional curricula should be chosen to correspond with interests and career goals. For example, students interested in law should take relevant courses in clinical psychology, economics, business, criminal justice, and political science. See What Can I Do with a Degree in Psychology? Additionally, a number of books and websites are devoted to educating students about their career options. The books listed below represent a few such sources. These can be found online or at local bookstores.

  • Career Opportunities for Psychologists: Expanding and Emerging Areas provides information and ideas on career opportunities and job placement, how to do a Vita and apply for jobs, and roles of psychologists in human services, engineering, human factors, industry, management, ecology, environment, population program evaluation, social, and nontraditional and innovative areas.

  • The Psychology Major: Training and Employment Strategies has information on preparation and strategies for employment; job potentials; training for careers in community service, mental health, and public affairs; employment statistics; and a variety of valuable information for employment.

  • Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You (2nd ed .)(2006). Edited by Robert J. Sternberg
  • Finding Jobs With a Psychology Bachelor's Degree: Expert Advice for Launching Your Career. (2009) R. Eric Landrum.
  • Great Jobs for Psychology Majors, 3rd ed. (Great Jobs For Series) (2006). Julie DeGalan & Stephen Lambert (Author)
  • What Can You Do with a Major in Psychology, What Can You Do with a Major in Psychology: Real People. Real Jobs. Real Rewards (What Can You Do with a Major in...) (2005) Shelley O'Hara
  • What to Do with Your Psychology or Sociology Degree (Career Guides) (2007) by Princeton Review

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The Graduate School Option
Students who ultimately wish to pursue a career in a psychology-related field (e.g., professor, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, etc.) will need to earn an advanced degree in psychology. Admission to a graduate degree program in psychology requires:

  • a high grade point average (particularly in the last two years as an undergraduate)
  • high scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • 3-4 strong letters of recommendation
  • research experience, and in particular papers presented at scientific meetings and publications.

Students are encouraged to choose their electives and minors carefully, with the guidance of their advisor and to participate in PSY3990 (Research in Psychology) when possible so as to gain relevant research experience. Highly qualified students are encouraged to apply for admission to the PreGraduate Major in Psychology when they have completed 45-60 hours. See the Undergraduate Programs part of this website to learn more about this major or talk with your advisor to learn if this major is right for you. To learn more about applying to graduate school in psychology, see the Getting Into Graduate School part of this website. A number of books, many by APA, are devoted to educating students about various graduate school options and career paths. A few are listed below.

  • Preparing for Graduate Study in Psychology: Not for Seniors Only! has ideas for choosing a specialty and type of degree, methods and procedures for preparing for graduate school, a timetable for preparing, how to learn about graduate schools, how to apply to graduate school and for financial aid, and sources of financial aid. Special comments for minority populations are also included.

  • Graduate Study in Psychology lists all of the psychology departments which offer advanced degrees and provides information concerning the type of program, admission requirements, student statistics, degree requirements, financial assistance, internships, minority considerations, and comments on the unique characteristics of each department. This book is updated yearly; the 2010 edition was recently published. This book is available from the American Psychological Association.

  • Graduate Record Examination: Psychology Advanced Tests describes areas in psychology which are examined, procedures used in conducting the test, and application information. This book contains approximately 100 pages of test questions and answers. Information about the Psychology Subject Test can also be found at www.gre.org.

  • "Careers in Psychology";: available online at PsycCareers (APA's online career center) This handbook covers subfields in psychology and overviews what psychologists do and where they do it. http://psyccareers.apa.org or http://www.apa.org/students/brochure/brochurenew.pdf

  • http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/gradschl.html (general overview of the process)

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Applied Options
A growing number of students with a B.S. degree in psychology are working in applied settings. These paraprofessionals typically carry out duties that are supportive of the overall goals of a larger organization. They often assist in such activities as testing, counseling, behavior modification, community needs assessment, management, data collection and statistical analyses, etc. Paraprofessionals are playing an increasingly prominent role in business, schools, clinics, hospitals, agencies, and research settings. The applied options are designed to provide students with background knowledge and training in skills most likely to be needed, and, in some cases, supervised training and experience in an applied setting. This department presently offers both a major and minor in industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology, a minor in mental health services, and a minor in behavioral research.

Students selecting an applied option are strongly encouraged to gain practical experience by working closely with faculty members. It is the students' responsibility to seek out faculty mentors. In some cases, it may be possible for students to obtain an internship in the community. Faculty members are quite willing to assist students with this portion of their training, but they are not obliged to work with unqualified students. Credit for such work usually takes the form of enrollment in Research in Psychology (3990) or Apprenticeship (PSY4730-4760). For more information, students should consult with their academic advisor or a faculty member with knowledge in the particular area of interest. See the Faculty Interests page of the department website. A number of books and websites provide additional information about careers in applied psychology. Several of these resources are listed below.

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