A common question that you may be asking as you consider studying psychology in college is: “What do psychologists study?”
Psychologists study the human brain. They try to figure out how it works and how it determines or influences our choices and behaviors—both individually and culturally. They study the factors that impact psychology from biology to social situations.
The Areas of Study in Psychology
Choosing to study psychology can be a little bit daunting, especially if you are new to the field. There are so many areas of psychology to study that they have been organized into ten areas for quicker analysis:
- Clinical psychology
- Experimental psychology
- Cognitive psychology
- Educational psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Forensic psychology
- Industrial psychology
- Social psychology
- Health psychology
Because there are so many branches of psychology, you will eventually have to choose which kind you would like to study. Your studies will get more specific in your chosen field as you attend more school and get more degrees, which you will definitely need to do in order to be qualified for most psychology careers.
Degrees in Psychology
In your bachelor’s degree in psychology, you will learn foundational information about the general field of psychology. You will understand the basics of psychological theories, research, and principles, and you will get to try your hand at some research yourself.
Your master’s program in psychology will teach you about more specific areas of psychology. Depending on which area you choose to study, you could finish this degree with the qualifications necessary for some positions. Otherwise, your master’s degree will solidify the knowledge you gained as an undergraduate, as well as expose you to more research opportunities.
While there are some psychology careers you can have with just a master’s degree, a doctorate degree in psycholog is usually required for licensure. Having a doctorate degree also makes you more qualified for many more jobs in the field. You can choose between a PsyD, which will prepare you for a career of clinical and practical application. Or, you can choose to get a PhD, which will qualify you to work in a research field.
Career Paths in Psychology
There are many career paths you can take when you have a degree in psychology, and they are generally sorted into two different categories: application-based, and research-based.
Research-based psychologists conduct research and perform studies to learn more about the brain and human behavior. Application-based psychologists, such as therapists, then use the research to try to provide solutions for people and organizations.
Studying psychology does not necessarily mean you will work in a laboratory. Because psychology is present practically everywhere, it can be studied in a variety of settings. Research psychologists collect data through several methods, including:
- Case studies
- Content analysis
- Cross-sectional studies
- Field experiments
Research psychologists then draw conclusions based on this research. They have a strong understanding of the scientific method and with ethical research principles since they apply them on a daily basis.
No matter which branch of psychology you pursue, as a psychologist, you’ll study why humans act and react the way they do. You may choose to apply these studies in a practical setting or you might prefer to continue to study them and add to the psychology knowledge base through careful and thorough research.