Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Information on this webpage is adapted from several sources, including the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and articles published in the journals Teaching of Psychology and Eye on Psi Chi.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology qualifies an individual to work in a wide variety of jobs in business, social services, and other areas. For example, those with a bachelor’s degree may assist psychologists and other professionals in community mental health centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, and correctional programs, or work as research assistants. In the federal government, job seekers who have at least 24 semester hours in psychology and one course in statistics can qualify for entry level positions.
What can I do with a B.A. in Psychology?
This resource provides a list of 130 occupations that psychology majors may pursue, together with the associated urls to an online description of each occupation which includes the tasks and skills used in that occupation.
This resource describes how to access and use the the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor. O*NET is a great resource. By using it, you can get a wealth of information on occupations, including education and training needed, job outlook, skills needed, and projected wages and employment trends.
What kind of salary can I expect with a B.A. in Psychology?
The salary you can expect varies greatly with the specific occupation you enter and the area of the country you are in. According to the Summer 2007 Salary Survey report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the national average starting salary for psychology majors with a bachelor's degree was $31, 631, and ranged from $25,000 to $37,500.
What do employers seek in graduates with a B.A. in psychology?
The knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics shown below reflect those found by Edwards and Smith (1988, 2002). They surveyed a large sample of employers from government, nonprofits, commercial agencies, organizations, and companies that often hire undergraduate psychology majors.
- Structure and dynamics of small groups
- How people think, solve problems, and process information
- Formation and change of attitudes and opinions
- Principles and techniques of personnel selection
- Effects of the environment on people's feelings and actions
- Principles of human learning and memory
- How people perceive and sense their environment
- Theories and research on personality and individual differences
- Principles of human needs and motivation
- Theories and research on organizational behavior, work, and productivity
- Theories and research on human development and stages of life
- Symptoms, causes, and treatments of abnormal behaviors
Skills and Abilities
- Strong communication and interpersonal skills
- Ability to work on teams.
- Adaptability to changing situations
- Ability to suggest solutions
- Problem-solving skills
- Effective writing
- Use of technology
- Ability to influence others
- Presentation skills
- Conducting interviews
- Performing statistical analysis
- Designing and conducting research projects
- Performing job analysis
- Using computer programs to analyze data
- Systematically observing and recording behavior
- Constructing questionnaires and surveys
- Ability to work with others in a team
- Motivation to work hard
- Positive attitude toward work and the organization
- Ability to communicate well
- Tolerance for stress and ambiguity
Oral Communication - presenting ideas to others orally, both one-on-one and in groups
Written Communication - writing effective letters, reports, and other documents
Interpersonal Skill - understanding and dealing effectively with the behavior of others
Critical Thinking - identifying and analyzing problems, formulating and testing ideas
Problem Solving - thinking and solving problems effectively
How can I maximize my chances of getting a good job with an undergraduate degree?
An excellent article from Eye on Psi Chi answers this very question!
What kind of timeline can help me prepare?
Here is a timeline suggested by Drew Appleby and Bill Hill at the 1994 Southeastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology.
- Begin to consider various careers. Investigate employment opportunities with a B.A. degree in psychology using resources available from your career services office and the psychology department. Realize that some careers require graduate training either at the entry level or for eventual advancement.
- Begin a self-assessment process focusing on your interests, strengths, skills, and values. How well do they match your preliminary career goals?
- Complete your self-assessment process. Compile a list of your interests, strengths (academic and personal), skills, and knowledge. Use this list to help focus your career choice.
- Continue the process of narrowing down your specific interests in the field of psychology and consider the type of employment you wish.
- Begin to prepare a resume if you have not already done so.
- Re-evaluate your career choice. Are you still on the right track?
- Make plans to obtain relevant experience outside the classroom before the end of your senior year (e.g., volunteer work, practicum, and research opportunities)
- Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your progress toward degree completion and your career plans and options. Review your course selections for the major field in psychology and your minor, if you have one.
- Contact people in the profession you are seeking to enter, and conduct some "information interviews" to learn more about career options.
Summer Between Junior and Senior Year
- Use the summer months to build your job information network, prepare a polished resume, and continue to refine your career aspirations.
- Meet with your academic advisor during fall semester to discuss your progress toward degree completion and your career plans and options. Review your course selections for the major field in psychology.
- Obtain a copy of your transcript from the Registrar and review it carefully for any errors.
- Identify three individuals (e.g., faculty members and past employers) who are willing and able to write STRONG letters of recommendations for you.
- Review your resume.
How can I get help finding a job?
Career Services helps students and alumni of OLLU with career development and job search assistance. They are located in UWAC, Room 106. Phone: (210) 431-3971 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday - Thursday, 8am - 6pm
Friday, 8am - 5pm
First Saturdays, 10am - 2pm (October, November, December, February, March, May)
Where can I go for more information?
Below are several good books and websites:
- Psychology: Scientific Problem Solvers - Careers for the 21st Century Authored by the APA, this is a 40 page brochure that provides information on psychology as a career and many profiles of psychologists.
- Margaret Lloyd's Web Page
This is a website developed by Margaret Lloyd, PhD, (an APA Board of Educational Affairs member). It has information for making the most of your undergraduate years and career information.
- Great Jobs for Psychology Majors
DeGalan, J., & Lambert, S. (2000). Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Horizons.
Presents a variety of work-related topics including self-assessment, researching careers, networking, resumes, interviewing. The second part of the book offers descriptions of four career paths open to psychology majors.
- Majoring in Psych? Career Options for Psychology Undergraduates
Moran, B. L., & Korschgen, A. J. (2001). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
This book includes several issues of interest to psychology majors: jobs for psychology majors, how to increase your chances of getting these jobs, deciding on whether to go to graduate school, and how to prepare for graduate school admission.
- The Psychology Major: Career Options and Strategies for Success
Landrum, E., Davis, S., & Landrum, T. A. (2000). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Covers a range of material: undergraduate opportunities that can boost job and grad school opportunities, entry-level career options, and how to apply to graduate programs.
- The Career Services Office at OLLU
A great resource!
What if I'm thinking of pursuing an advanced degree?
Individuals with a master's degree in Psychology and the appropriate training may become licensed as a professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, psychology associate, or school psychologist. A master’s degree also qualifies a person to work in settings that match the specialization of the degree. For example, an Experimental master’s degree qualifies the recipient to conduct research in a variety of settings, such as laboratories, hospitals and universities. A Psychology master’s degree also qualifies a person to teach Psychology at 2-year colleges.
Those with a doctoral degree (a Ph.D. or a PsyD) qualify for a wide range of academic, research, clinical, and consulting positions in universities, schools, private industry, and government. See the last section of this site for links to information on types of doctoral degrees and resulting career options.
The links below provide information about graduate schools and career opportunities with an advanced degree.
The archive of the Webinar, "Successful Strategies for Getting Into Graduate School in Psychology", by Dr. Greg Neimeyer, is now available online. The 75-minute training program, sponsored by Psi Chi and SAGE publications, is free of charge and can be reached by clicking this link and then scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking where it says "click here" for the archived presentation.
Our Lady of the Lake University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Our Lady of the Lake University that fall under one of these areas: (1) to learn about the accreditation status of the institution, (2) to file a third-party comment at the time of the institution’s decennial review, or (3) to file a complaint against the institution for alleged non-compliance with a standard or requirement.