Majoring in Psychology
What Careers are Open to Psychology Majors?
With an undergraduate degree in psychology, you’ll be able to offer your future employer an understanding of human behavior along with the ability to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data. You’ll also be equipped with critical communication skills. Psychology graduates work in human resources, management, health care facilities, government agencies, and other occupational settings. Many enter graduate programs that prepare them for careers in psychology or other professional fields such as medicine, allied health careers, law, social work, and education.
Can I Major in Psychology at HCC?
Although you cannot technically “major” in psychology at HCC, completing an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree here will prepare you to succeed in an undergraduate psychology program at the university of your choice. By carefully choosing the courses you take at HCC, you can tailor your AA or AS degree plan such that you will be able to transfer with all of your prerequisite courses completed. Depending on the university you choose, you may also be able to count PSYC courses you take at HCC towards your major.
Getting a degree at HCC will also help you acquire essential study and organizational skills. You’ll also learn to persevere and follow through on your personal goals. When you’re finished, you’ll be able to say “I did it!” and move on to your ultimate goal: A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.
How Do I Get Started?
The pathway to an undergraduate degree in psychology starts with identifying one or more target universities. Most universities have transfer plans for psychology posted on their websites. Review these plans and identify a few target universities that interest you. In many cases, your target universities’ transfer plans will tell you exactly what to take at HCC. You will also find contact information for psychology department staff members who can answer your questions.
Visit the websites of the psychology departments at your target schools and, if possible, narrow your choices to two or three universities. Next, take a look at these universities’ transfer criteria. You are likely to find that several of the universities you are interested in offer automatic admission to applicants with A.A. or A.S. degrees.
Learn more about transferring into the psychology program at…
The next step is to work with an HCC adviser to develop a degree plan. The plan will enable you to map out your coursework in accordance with your personal goals and needs.
The Academic Core
HCC’s 42-hour academic core will comprise about two-thirds of your degree plan. The core includes nine domains. Some domains require specific courses, while others allow you to choose from many options.
If you complete the core at HCC, you will not be required to complete the core curriculum at the university to which you transfer. However, you may still be required to take specific freshman or sophomore level courses as prerequisites for advanced coursework. For example, some psychology programs require all students to take MATH 1314 (College Algebra) before they take junior-level statistics courses. So, it makes sense to take MATH 1314 to fulfill HCC’s mathematics core requirement if you will be transferring to such a school.
How Do I Choose Core Courses?
You might be wondering, for the domains that offer several options, how will you decide which courses to take? Fortunately, the HCC psychology faculty are well acquainted with what it takes to succeed in a psychology program. We have a few suggestions for you and other students who intend to major in psychology:
- Take PSYC 2301 to fulfill the social and behavioral science requirement. PSYC 2301 is required in every undergraduate psychology program and is a prerequisite for the junior and senior level courses you will have to take to complete your undergraduate degree.
- Take courses in the life sciences. Every psychology course you take is likely to rely a great deal on your understanding of the nervous and endocrine systems. You will find the knowledge you gain from courses such as BIOL 1306 and ANTH 2301 to be invaluable.
- Take at least one statistics course. For many students, understanding and using statistical methods is the biggest challenge they face in pursuing a degree in psychology. The more statistical skill you acquire at the beginning of your academic career, the better off you’ll be in the long run. PSYC 2317 is an ideal introduction to statistical methods and focuses on the kinds of questions that are of interest to psychologists and other behavioral scientists.
- Learn everything you can about research methods. Every natural and social science course you take will include instruction in research methods. These methods are highly similar across disciplines, so learning what an experiment is in a biology class differs little from learning about experiments in a psychology class. For a psychology major, knowledge and understanding of research methods is vital.
- Remember, philosophy is the foundation of psychology. For this reason, it makes sense to include an introductory philosophy course in your degree plan. You may also want to include a course in ethics.
- Take courses in other behavioral and social sciences. These disciplines include government, sociology, anthropology, geography, and economics. Professionals in these disciplines examine many of the same questions about mental processes and behaviors that psychologists do. Courses in these disciplines will equip you with insights into diverse perspectives on these questions.
- Join student organizations. Find out which courses other students who are interested in psychology have taken. You can get acquainted with such students by joining one or both of the student organizations that the HCC psychology department sponsors. In addition to enabling you to get to know other students who share your interest in psychology, these organizations will provide you with opportunities for service and leadership. Psi Kappa is a club for all students who are interested in psychology. Learn more about Psi Kappa here and here. Psi Beta is the national honor society for psychology students who attend community colleges. HCC has a very active Psi Beta chapter that you can learn about here.
How Many PSYC Courses Can I Take at HCC?
The short answer—it depends on where you plan to go after you graduate from HCC. Your A.A. or A.S. degree plan will include 16 to 18 hours of electives. Consult your target universities’ transfer guides to choose which electives to take. In some cases, you’ll be able to include HCC psychology courses in your elective block that one or more of your target universities will count towards your major. However, be cautious. Some psychology programs do not accept any community college psychology courses other than PSYC 2301. If you have any doubts about a particular course, consult with an adviser at your target school.
When Should I Apply to Transfer?
You should start applying to four-year programs at about the same time that you register for your final semester at HCC. At some schools, you can apply directly to the psychology program. At others, you will have to apply for a general transfer admission and take mandatory prerequisites before applying to the psychology program. Either way, your HCC degree will prepare you to take on the challenges of college work at the junior and senior level.
There’s one more thing to do when you register for your final semester: Put the HCC graduation ceremony on your calendar, and make plans to attend. Register for graduation as soon as the sign-up link appears on the college website.
After all that work, you definitely don’t want to miss out on hearing your name called, walking across the stage with your friends and family cheering you on, and receiving your diploma from HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado.
Who Can Answer My Questions about Majoring in Psychology?
Any psychology instructor at HCC can answer general questions about majoring in psychology, careers in psychology, and how to decide if psychology is right for you. Consult an HCC adviser for answers to questions about degree requirements.