Psychology majors may face post-grad difficulties
Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 16:08
For three years, psychology has been UCF students’ No. 1 choice in major, with psychology also rated third in UCF’s inventory of course disciplines. However, according to a CNN Money report, the projected salary of a student with a bachelor’s in psychology is expected to be a little less than $45,000, a sum that is 9 percent less than what an average college graduate with a different degree will make.
Psychology majors also have less than a 25 percent chance to work in a field relevant to their major, and yet, the major continues to be the most popular choice for the majority of UCF students.
Lynn Hansen, director of UCF Career Services, said he felt that students chose careers not based on salary, but based on what they loved to do.
“I wholeheartedly believe if you have a passion and if you love what you’re doing … you’ll find a job,” Hansen said. “I highly recommend students don’t choose a major or career path where you think the jobs will be. The economy will change, [and] it’s important to have a passion for what you’re doing.”
It took senior psychology major Courtney Ponds several tries before she was able to find that passion. After switching her major from pre-med to nursing, Ponds finally settled on psychology — a major she says will pay off in the long run.
“I think that psychology is important because, so far, in all of my classes I’ve learned more about human behavior, and I think it helps [students] relate better to people,” Ponds said. “People are genuinely interested in how other people interact. I feel like with psychology, not only do you learn about other people and the way they interact, but you’re sort of learning about yourself, too.”
Though she plans to pursue a career in dentistry after medical school, Ponds feels that her major has better prepared her for life after graduation.
“Psychology would give an upper hand on being able to relate to people,” Ponds said. “People lose sight [of] face-to-face communication with all the technology. Psychology helps you spot differences in personalities [and] seeing different problems associated with the human mind; it teaches patience.”
Junior psychology major Rachel Restrepo also agrees that the psychology program is essential for students who want to communicate and work well with others.
“It’s the study of people, so it’s important. I mean, no offense to business or computer [majors, but] it helps you relate to people,” she said. “You learn how people work. It’s good for people to take at least one psychology course [because] anywhere you go … you’re communicating with people all the time, so it’s important that you’re able to understand everyone.”
It has been shown that psychology graduates who continue on to graduate school, rather than enter the workforce upon graduation, increase their likeliness of future employment
A Georgetown study on various majors’ worth cited that less than half of students with a degree in psychology will apply for a master’s in the same field. However, students who do obtain a graduate degree would secure higher-paying positions, increasing their average earnings by approximately 43 percent.
Of the 2,900 undergraduate students pursuing a major in psychology at UCF, only 119 have been admitted and enrolled in UCF’s psychology master’s program.
Karen Cox, director of the Psychology Advising Center at UCF, noted that the psychology department is currently collecting data that focuses on what the majority of psychology majors are planning to do after receiving their bachelor’s degree. An early data report will be available for the spring semester, Cox said.
Restrepo, who plans to pursue a master’s in clinical psychology, felt that students with plans to become psychologists must have a master’s or doctoral degree.
“There’s other things you can do, but if you want to be a psychologist, you really have to go to graduate school,” Restrepo said. “It’s really important. There’s no way you can do it without graduate school. I definitely think it’s going to get a lot more competitive than it already is to get into grad school and get a job, and right now it’s already really competitive.”
Ponds feels that while it will be difficult for students to secure a position with only a bachelor’s degree, it is possible.
“I’ve seen it done. There’s a time and place for everything, [and] if it’s something that person is meant to do … they’ll get a job,” Ponds said. “I think they might not find the job they want, per se, [but] in that field, it’ll be a little more difficult because everybody’s graduating with a psychology degree.”