Careers in Psychology and Related Fields
What comes next?
While you are an undergraduate in USC’s psychology program, we will work hard to make your educational experience a positive one. However, our commitment to you does not end as you finish your class work. Our goal is to help move your forward toward your educational and career objectives. Click on the links below for some information and general comments addressing several of the questions often asked by students.
Beyond the general information summarized here, we hope that you will continue to see your faculty and department advisors as sources of information. Many of us have wrestled with some of the same choices that you will soon be making and we will be able to share our own experiences with you. You will also find lots of information in the psychology main office. Please come see us, we are here to help.
You should also consider taking the course "Psychology as a Profession" (currently offered at Psych 499 but soon to have a new course number). Click here to view the syllabus for this course from Spring, 2009.
What can I do with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?
One frequent topic of concern to psychology students relates to job opportunities after graduation. Because many of the more desirable career options in psychology require a post-graduate education, students who do not wish to go on to graduate school often wonder what other options may be available. You will leave USC with a strong educational foundation, the ability to communicate effectively, and a sharp analytical mind. We hope that you will find that you have strong tools on which to build a productive future.
An important resource for you, as you consider alternatives, might be USC’s Career planning office. Career planning can give you basic information and help you with resumes and job applications. USC’s Career Planning Center can also give you access to job search databases. You should visit Career Planning's homepage for further information.
The American Psychology Association has also compiled some useful information. We recommend you read their excellent article entitled “Who do I want to become?” The Psi Chi National Honor Society also has a relevant article posted on their webpage.
The most important advice we can offer as you move toward a career is to make sure that your time is always used productively. Your first job after moving on from USC may not be directly related to your final career choice. Nonetheless, every step along the way should be an opportunity to learn new skills and gain important experiences.
What are my options for Graduate Education?
For many students, a B.A. in Psychology will be an important stepping stone to a graduate degree. Students who are interested in working directly with patients in clinical settings may pursue a wide variety of graduate degrees including a MSW, MFT, Ph.D. or Psy.D. Those who orient more toward academic or careers, will probably want to focus on a Ph.D. in one of the research disciplines of psychology. There are also psychologists working in commercial settings (which generally requires a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology), legal settings (which might require a joint Ph.D. and law degree), and in primary or secondary schools (generally requiring a masters or Ph.D. in School Psychology). Of course, students with a psychology degree might also go on to get graduate degrees in distantly related fields (like medicine).
With this array of potential graduate opportunities, it does seem natural that students will feel confused about what steps to take next. A good first step in getting information might be to talk to your favorite professors about options. We also encourage students to be active consumers and seek out information on their own. Your favorite internet search engine can be a powerful tool. Most social science professions have well-organized professional organizations, and some offer very useful information on their websites. The American Psychology Association, in particular, offers some good resources at their website.
What is the career outlook like?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Psychologists remains quite bright. In addition, the American Psychology Association reports that about 75% of Psychologists who earn doctorate degrees are able to obtain their first job choice. Still, the options seem to be best for those who have Master’s degrees and specialized skills, such as quantitative skills, behavior analysis, etc. As you consider the career options ahead of you, recognize that market forces are competitive but there is likely to be continued demand for psychologists who are well-trained and highly skilled.
Of course, the outlook will vary according to the specific discipline of psychology that you wish to pursue. Psychologists are active in a wide variety of professional settings and there will continue to be substantial growth in specific contexts. We encourage you to review the APA’s information on careers for the 21st century and to consider the options that most closely reflect your objectives.
- Department of Psychology
- University of Southern California
- SGM 501
- 3620 South McClintock Ave.
- Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
- Phone: (213) 740 - 2203
- Email: email@example.com