Psychology is a popular choice for many college students and often has the reputation of being an easy major. Since this field studies the human mind and human behavior, it can seem like many topics might be intuitive to its human students. However, this is not the full picture of a degree in psychology.
Psychology is not an easy major by default. If you are enthusiastic about the topics, you will find it easier to engage in the coursework and perform well in your classes. However, you will still need to be hardworking and dedicated to complete your degree in psychology.
In the rest of this article, we will take a look at some of the aspects of majoring in psychology. We will see what the major’s classes require from students and the range of skills that are needed to perform well in this field.
Coursework and Difficulty
Like any subject, your interest in the content will dictate how hard it is for you to succeed in the class. If you are excited about the topics examined in the course of a psychology degree, it will be easier for you to engage in the content meaningfully.
The more engaged you are with the topics, the better understanding you will have of the material in each class. Being able to start with a strong foundation is essential for any degree since you will spend several semesters building upon it with more specialized classes.
Psychology will require a lot of reading. You will likely have at least one textbook per class that you will need to read from in order to understand the topics more thoroughly.
It is also common for psychology majors to read articles and other materials relevant to the subjects.
Source: University Compare
Psychology is a changing field where people are publishing new studies and ideas all the time. Reading is essential in keeping up with the changing landscape of modern psychology. You must stay abreast of newly released articles in addition to your older textbook readings.
Humans are complex beings, and it can feel like there are endless topics to cover in a psychology degree. Many psychology classes can feel like you are covering a vast amount of material in a short period of time.
Because of the pace and density of the workload, it is important for psychology majors to stay organized and keep up with their studies.
The concepts covered in the different courses will build upon each other, and falling behind in one class can negatively impact the student’s overall understanding of psychology as a whole.
Experiments and Lab Work
Although it will depend on your school, most students who major in psychology will need to perform experiments. It will depend on your department’s regulations, but many psychology majors find themselves conducting a significant number of experiments to complete their degrees.
Students who love classroom learning in psychology may struggle while conducting experiments. Psychology can sometimes feel like it’s a cross between empirical science and social science. However, in the lab, it can feel much more like hard, data-driven science.
Conducting experiments requires a different set of skills than a traditional lecture class. While the skills needed to gather, analyze, and report on data can be learned, they may present additional challenges for certain students.
For a full review on some of the challenges created by conducting experiments as a psychology student, you can check out this informative video on Youtube:
In addition to scientific lab skills, psychology also requires a lot of math theory and application. Statistics are incredibly important for those studying psychology. For students who are more attracted to the social science side of the study, they may struggle with the math that is also required.
To understand the journal articles in the field of psychology, you will need to be able to read, understand, and process the findings of other psychologists in the field. You will also need to be able to report your own findings from your research in the form of statistics.
Your ability to prove or disprove a hypothesis will depend on your data. Processing your data and explaining it with accurate and relevant statistics is key in making your argument.
You will need to be able to perform some calculations by hand and also learn how to use different software for data collection and processing.
These skills may not appeal to all students equally. For students who love the concepts of psychology but struggle with some of the more detailed math skills that are also required, they may begin to find their coursework challenging.
Entering With Misconceptions
Another common issue associated with psychology is students entering the field with misconceptions about what exactly psychology is. They may have a glorified Hollywood version of the field of study.
The truth is that it is very far from the traditional course of study for psychology majors.
A degree in psychology can be much more broadly applied than is shown in mainstream media. A degree in this field can be used to work in a wide range of areas, such as Human Resources, Marketing, or any job where you must interact with people.
Not all students who study psychology go on to psychology jobs glamorized by film and television.
These misconceptions can cause a problem when it comes to maintaining interest. Students may think psychology will be as thrilling and exciting as it seems on TV. When they understand the more nuanced reality of the study, they may become disinterested. This disinterest can make it much more difficult to engage with the material and be successful in their courses.
To learn more about the misconceptions that some students may enter the field of study with, you can check out this perspective from a psychology major on Youtube:
However, for many students, psychology exceeds their expectations. They may understand the general idea of psychology being the scientific study of the human mind and behavior. Still, they may not yet know how intriguing the course material will be.
Since psychology is naturally appealing to many students, the topics studied in psychology classes can be naturally very engaging. If you are someone who is generally intrigued with learning more about the human mind and behavior, the actual study of psychology can be exciting for you, even if you enter with a few misconceptions.
Keep in mind that, like all majors, there will be fewer exciting times in your coursework. While enthusiastic psychology students may feel genuinely motivated to read about compelling studies that have been performed in the last few decades, memorizing less exciting facts and details may prove to be more of a challenge.
Beyond Your Bachelors
Even if you are highly motivated to work as a psychologist or a counselor, your bachelor’s degree in psychology alone will not be enough. If you have specific goals for your career in psychology, you will need to be prepared for graduate studies and internships before you can reach those goals.
When you graduate with your degree in psychology, you will still be far away from the glamorized roles of psychologists you have seen on TV. The reality is you will only be qualified for entry-level positions that may not be directly related to psychology.
This can be a great thing for many students. They may enjoy the fact that their degree can be applied to so many different fields and jobs.
Common entry-level positions for psychology majors might be in marketing, education, human resources, or any other sector where knowledge of human behavior is advantageous. However, it can be disappointing for others who are motivated to advance in their field of study upon graduation.
Even for those who found their undergraduate degree in psychology an easy major, advancing further in the field is a committed process. You will need to commit yourself to several more years of study and training before you can work in a traditional role like psychologist or therapist.
To become a licensed psychologist, you will need to continue your studies to a high level and meet specific state requirements. Although it will depend on the state in which you plan to practice, many licensing boards require a completed doctoral degree in psychology.
From there, you will also need documentation of the supervised work you did during your studies. Thousands of logged hours from internships and supervised clinical work will be important to get licensed, so you will need to keep track of all of this relevant experience.
You will also need to pass specific standardized tests and pay your licensing fees. This process can be time and energy-consuming and is not considered to be an easy career path by most.
Dispelling the “Easy Major” Reputation
For a variety of reasons, psychology does have a reputation of being an “easy major” on a lot of college campuses. There is a stereotype out there that psychology is all intuitive since it’s about the human mind (which is something that every student possesses).
However, anyone who has spent time in a few psychology classes will know that this stereotype is very incomplete. While the subject’s connection to being human can make it very interesting and intriguing, it does not make it easy.
We have seen that psychology requires a heavy amount of reading. It can feel a lot denser than an English major’s reading; in addition to textbooks, scientific journal articles are also an important part of a psychology major’s reading list.
Psychology students will need to understand statistics, as well. Statistics can be a challenging field of mathematics and can prove to be difficult for many students who enter psychology thinking it will be an easy degree path.
If you’re thinking about majoring in psychology because you think it is the easiest option, you might want to explore some other options. Keep in mind that some of these suggestions will be more relevant to you than others based on your personality, interests, and study style.
College Vine suggests pursuing a degree in Business Administration if you’re looking for the easiest and most practical option. It points to this degree as very useful without needing to pursue graduate options.
Plus, you can take classes that encompass your interests (including some introductory psychology courses depending on your department).
My Degree Guides suggests Criminal Justice and English as other options for easy college majors. Criminal Justice degrees can be appealing to those who are not looking for intensive reading or writing assignments. People who study criminal justice can usually go on to earn respectable salaries in stable jobs.
Studying English can be a very pleasurable path for those who love reading. It can be a good choice for people interested in psychology but uninterested in the scientific and statistical side that comes with it.
Many English classes will require you to analyze characters through a critical lens. You will be able to tap into your interests in human behavior and motivations through the fictional studies presented in literature. English degrees are also very versatile; they can be a great jumping-off point for entry-level positions in many sectors or a stepping stone to graduate studies.
Although psychology may have a reputation of being an easy major, this is not the reality for many dedicated students around the country. Psychology can be a challenging subject that requires a lot of reading, memorization, and time spent performing experiments.
Psychology requires you to use a range of skills that other majors do not require. To complete a degree in psychology successfully, you need to understand big-picture concepts while also using specific, detail-oriented scientific skills.