Psychology Advising Guide
What is Psychology?
The objective of psychology, as a science, is to understand, explain, and predict the behavior of people and animals. The Department of Psychology has developed and organized its course offerings to meet three major goals:
- To provide a strong foundation for those students who plan to enter a graduate school of psychology after completing their undergraduate degree requirements.
- To assist those students who are planning careers in psychology or in related fields by providing a flexible curriculum that can be designed to meet the career goals of individual students.
- To meet the needs of those students who are taking psychology courses as part of their liberal arts education.
Career Opportunities in Psychology
Psychology majors have many career opportunities. Some psychology majors go on to earn a Master’s Degree in Psychology or a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. If you are interested in developing a career in professional psychology you must earn a graduate degree. A Ph.D. degree gives you the most flexibility in terms of the types of career you can pursue.
Those interested in Clinical, Counseling, or School psychology will have to apply for licensure in the states that they work in, and most require a doctoral degree for licensure. Some states provide a limited practice of psychology at the Master’s degree level.
Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychologists must also pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree in psychology. I-O psychologists tend to consult and work in business settings and other industries.
For those who are interested in Experimental Psychology, including areas such as developmental, cognitive neuroscience, learning, psychophysiological, etc., pursuing a graduate degree is important. Experimental psychologists can teach at community colleges and universities or develop a research career in an area of expertise that can lead to a variety of career opportunities in research centers, medical centers, universities, and public enterprises.
Many other psychology majors go on to apply for medical, business, or law school. Psychology majors are also often recruited to be managers, sales persons, and for other types of business careers. Others may find career opportunities in medical settings, community mental health, and other community agencies. To find more information about career opportunities in psychology visit: www.apa.org/careers/resources/guides/careers.pdf.
Salary Trends in Psychology
Psychology majors that pursue doctoral degrees can expect their starting salaries to be between $50,000 and $120,000, depending on the type of employment opportunities they apply for.
Unlike more vocationally-oriented majors, such as majors in business, engineering,
or the health professions, A&S majors tend to study a greater range of topics outside
of their immediate major area. This greater breadth provides an interdisciplinary
perspective that complements the more linear education in the student’s major area.
As a result, A&S majors are compatible with a wide-range of career options. A large 2012 survey of employers found that 81% of employers will consider any degree, so most employers do not require a specific degree. So A&S majors typically find post-graduate employment at rates comparable to more vocationally-specific degrees, Furthermore, longitudinal studies which have followed college graduates over time have shown that Arts and Sciences graduates' rates of salary growth often exceed those of more vocationally-specific majors. For example, a 2010 longitudinal survey of college majors after graduation found that:
“Occupationally specific degrees are beneficial at the point of entry into the labor market but have the lowest growth in occupational status over time. Students earning credentials focusing on general skills, in contrast, begin in jobs with low occupational status but subsequently report the greatest growth.”
Another longitudinal study concluded that:
"Employment across educational fields is almost identical for individuals aged 35-44, and beyond age 45, humanities graduates actually have higher rates of employment than those in other fields. After age 45, humanities and social science majors’ salaries overtake those of counterparts in other fields."
Finally, A&S majors have on average the highest rates of increase from starting to mid-career salary, with Math, Philosophy, International Studies, Physics, Political Science, Chemistry, and Journalism all scoring in the top 10 among all majors in rate of salary growth to mid-career.
High School Preparation
Good grades and scores on the ACT are important and will help prepare you for a psychology major. Take science and mathematics courses as science and math skills will be needed to be successful in psychology. If your high school offers a psychology course consider taking it so that you can learn more about the field of psychology and the many different areas of study within psychology.
How to Major in Psychology
You can declare a psychology major at any time. After your freshman year, you will be given a psychology faculty member as an advisor. You can use the USA bulletin to determine required psychology courses for the major and the number of psychology electives you must take.
We encourage students to meet the psychology faculty members and get to know what kind of research they are conducting. You can volunteer or take directed studies with faculty that you are interested in working with.
Special Programs, Internships, and Directed Studies
- Students can take a practicum course to experience psychology placements in the community.
- Students can also take directed studies courses with Psychology faculty members to gain research experience.
- Students can also complete a Senor Honor Thesis in Psychology if the meet the academic criteria for this project.
The Psychology Department has an active Psychology Club and Psi Chi, an honor society. These organizations promote psychology within the undergraduate and graduate programs. They have meetings throughout the year and organize activities that are of interest to psychology majors.
The Psychology Department also has a graduate program in Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the Master’s level and a Combined Integrative Clinical-Counseling Doctoral Psychology program. Many undergraduate students have the opportunity to work with graduate students on research and service projects.
Study Abroad Opportunities
There are no formal psychology study abroad opportunities at this time. However, students are encouraged to seek out study abroad opportunities that would be helpful to their psychology studies.
Studying abroad is an exciting and meaningful experience that will contribute to your academic and personal development. Participating on a study abroad program can be one of the most profound decisions of your college life, and can lead to many new and interesting opportunities. It can help develop your critical thinking skills, sense of independence, and confidence. When you depart on your study abroad program, you will go with excitement, trepidation, and uncertainty about the world and your place in it. When you return home, your deep connection and affection for your host culture will be overwhelming, and will only be matched by a newfound respect and appreciation for your home.
Study abroad is the opportunity for USA students to spend time in a different country while earning credit towards your degree through taking classes, interning, volunteering, and more. There are many different types of study abroad available to you at USA. They include faculty-led programs, international exchange programs, and direct-enroll and affiliate programs.
Students on faculty-led programs will travel as a group led by USA professors and take classes in various locations. All courses taken on these programs are USA courses and offer USA credits that will apply to your degree. International Exchange programs are partnerships with specific universities around the world with which USA has a special, reciprocal relationship. Students enroll directly at the host university, and students from the host university attend USA. USA affiliate programs allow students to enroll at a partner university or program through a third-party provider. GPA requirements vary by program.
You should think of the Study Abroad Office as a one-stop shop for information related to your study abroad experience. The Study Abroad (http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/) team is excited to assist you as you navigate through the process of choosing a program, and will help you from the advising stage until you return from your program. You can get started by coming to meet with an advisor during Walk-In Advising hours. During an advising session, you can gain general information about the many programs available, how the application process works at USA and general guidance on where to begin.
Be sure to visit the OIE Study Abroad website at http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/ to begin your research. The website contains information on how to get started, financing your program, and a comprehensive list of pre-approved study abroad programs and partners. While researching a passport or visa programs, consider the following: eligibility requirements, location, course offerings, and costs. You should also meet with your faculty advisor for assistance in selecting a program based on courses related to your degree.
Studying abroad can be one of the highlights of your university career, giving you wonderful and challenging experiences that will allow you to grow both academically and professionally. Where will you study abroad?
Following an academic plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.
To see a sample academic plan for this major, please click here. Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.
For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.
For More Information
For more information on this program, contact:
Lisa Turner, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology,
Laura Powell Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology or
Ms. Lisa Nash, Psychology Secretary at (251) 460-6371
You can find us on campus at:
Department of Psychology
75 S. University Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36688