Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

What Can I Do With a Psychology Degree?

5 minute read

A degree in psychology is a journey in understanding the human mind and offers a spectrum of career possibilities. In this article, we will explore the myriad paths that unfold for a psychology major, ranging from clinical practice and counseling to research, organizational psychology, and beyond.

Careers With a Psychology Degree

Below are a few examples, showcasing that a psychology degree allows graduates to contribute to diverse fields that involve understanding the human mind and helping people in different ways: 

  • Clinical Psychologist

  • Counseling Psychologist

  • School Psychologist

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

  • Forensic Psychologist

  • Sports Psychologist

  • Health Psychologist

  • Developmental Psychologist

  • Social Psychologist

  • Cognitive Psychologist

  • Neuropsychologist

  • Rehabilitation Counselor

  • Human Resources Specialist

  • Mental Health Counselor

  • Substance Abuse Counselor

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These career paths span various sectors, including clinical practice, education, business, and research, allowing psychologists to contribute to individual well-being and societal understanding of human behavior. Now, let’s dive a bit deeper on these career paths for psychology students: 

Clinical Psychology and Mental Health

One of the most direct applications of a psychology degree is in clinical psychology, where professionals work directly with individuals to address mental health challenges. Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of psychological disorders. They may work in hospitals, mental health clinics, or private practices, offering therapeutic interventions to help individuals navigate and overcome mental health issues. Additionally, clinical psychologists may specialize in areas such as child psychology, forensic psychology, or health psychology, tailoring their expertise to address specific populations and contexts.

Counseling: Guiding Individuals through Life's Challenges

Counseling psychologists focus on helping individuals cope with life's challenges, improve their well-being, and enhance personal development. Whether working in educational institutions, community centers, or private practices, counseling psychologists provide a safe space for clients to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Career counseling, marriage and family therapy, and addiction counseling are among the various specializations within counseling psychology. Through empathy and active listening, counseling psychologists empower individuals to navigate transitions and foster positive change in their lives.

Research and Academia

A psychology degree lays the groundwork for careers in research and academia. By pursuing a masters degree or doctoral degree, psychology students can contribute to the ever-expanding body of knowledge about human behavior and cognition. They design experiments, collect data, and analyze findings to advance our understanding of psychological phenomena. Working in universities, research institutions, or think tanks, psychologists in academia not only conduct research but also play a pivotal role in educating the next generation of psychologists. They impart critical thinking skills, research methodologies, and a deep understanding of psychological theories to students eager to explore the intricacies of the human mind.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

The application of psychology extends into the workplace through industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology. I-O psychologists leverage their understanding of human behavior to enhance organizational effectiveness, improve workplace morale, and optimize employee performance. In corporate settings, I-O psychologists may be involved in talent selection, leadership development, and organizational change management. Their insights into human behavior and group dynamics contribute to creating work environments that foster productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.

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Psychologists in Schools

Within educational settings, school psychologists play a crucial role in supporting the academic and emotional well-being of students. They collaborate with educators, parents, and administrators to address issues such as learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. School psychologists conduct assessments, develop intervention plans, and provide counseling services. By promoting positive mental health within schools, they contribute to creating an environment that nurtures academic success and personal growth.

Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice 

For those intrigued by the intersection of psychology and the legal system, forensic psychology offers a compelling career path. Forensic psychologists apply their expertise to issues related to criminal justice, providing insights into criminal behavior, conducting psychological assessments, and offering expert testimony in legal proceedings. In addition to working within the criminal justice system, forensic psychologists may also contribute to issues such as child custody disputes, civil lawsuits, and emergency response situations.

Human Resources and Employee Well-Being

Psychologists bring valuable insights into employee well-being and organizational dynamics. They inform approaches to talent management, employee engagement, and workplace culture contribute to creating environments that support both professional success and mental health. Whether designing employee wellness programs, conducting workplace assessments, or providing support during periods of organizational change, individuals with a psychology background play a crucial role in fostering positive workplace dynamics.

Psychology Research Projects Completed by Polygence Students

How Can You Explore More Career Paths Before College?

Through Polygence, middle and high school students can work with research mentors to learn about the variety of avenues they can choose to take in a psychology career. For instance, meet Polygence mentor Jessica W, who is a Doctor of Medicine (MD) Candidate at the University of Southern California with expertise in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology. Or meet mentor Michelle S, who is an expert in childhood emotional development. She is researching how experiences of adversity in early life can affect how adults manage their beliefs and emotional experiences.

If you’re not sure which area of specialization might be most interesting, you could try the Polygence Pathfinders career discovery program! This program is designed to help students explore career paths they are interested in. Program participants meet 1-on-1 with three expert mentors to receive personalized advice and guidance.

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Final Thoughts

As our understanding of the human mind continues to evolve, the contributions of psychologists become increasingly vital. Being a psychology major empowers individuals to unravel the complexities of human behavior, offer support during life's challenges, and contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities. Whether you aspire to be a clinician, a researcher, an educator, or a change agent in the workplace, a psychology degree illuminates diverse paths in the rich landscape of the human experience.