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University of Rhode Island — Psychology
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Be Successful
Is this field for me?

Psychology is a multi-faceted discipline encompassing both science and practice. Whether your interests are working with kids, assisting returning vets, or studying brain and language development, psychology may be the field for you. Research psychologists investigate biological and/or environmental explanations for behavior. Psychological practitioners provide services in school, hospital, clinic, and organizational settings.

A recent survey reported the top five reasons undergraduate students chose psychology as their major. They are:

  • To help others or be of service to others
  • To pursue an interesting subject matter
  • To better understand myself and others
  • To pursue promising career and/or salary potential
  • To conduct research
Academic Strengths

Success in psychology relies upon mastery of concepts in the social and biological sciences. Students should first achieve a broad perspective of the field of psychology and then gain more in-depth knowledge about the various content areas within psychology. These include developmental psychology, personality theories, and abnormal psychology. Because psychology is influenced by other sciences, success in biology, math, philosophy, and related courses is important. Students should demonstrate critical thinking and analysis skills that are often achieved through courses in statistics and research methods, as well as through research opportunities. Later in the undergraduate program, students learn to apply knowledge from the classroom to practice through service-delivery experiences. Excellent written and oral communication skills are also essential assets for careers in psychology.

Personal Qualities

Because of the breadth of career options, psychology majors may be people-oriented, research-oriented, or both! For majors committed to a career in psychological services, it is helpful to be empathic and able to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. All majors benefit from being creative and having strong analytical skills and the ability to think critically.

Job Market

Psychology, as a field, is evolving. The need for psychological services in hospitals, schools, private businesses, social service agencies, and mental health centers continues to grow. Opportunities for work in psychology are expanding in number and scope, especially for those with graduate degrees, while an undergraduate degree remains excellent preparation for graduate study in psychology, business, law, health disciplines, or other fields. Talking to an academic advisor can help you examine which career paths best match your personality, skills, and interests.

For more information about job opportunities, go to the Careers Tab.