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Why study psychology and what degree should you choose?

We present five key reasons why you might want to study psychology at degree level, together with the main programme, degrees, and pathways into psychology professions.

psychologist talking to client

Psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour. With a mind-boggling range of psychology programmes at thousands of universities worldwide, it’s among the most popular degree subjects at undergraduate and graduate level.

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to study psychology: maybe you’re itching to unravel the mysteries of the human mind, or maybe you want to develop a varied skill-set and enter a career with real impact for individuals and society. Degrees in psychology are also useful for a whole host of careers, in both the public and private sector. They open the doors to positions in clinical psychology, psychotherapy, business psychology, policing, health and social care, and more.

If you’re still searching for an argument to study psychology, we’ve narrowed it down to five key reasons. Let’s see if we can convince you…

Five reasons to study psychology

Interest and relevance

The first and most obvious reason to study psychology is because it interests you. Have you always been fascinated by the human mind? Do you ever find yourself wondering why we think, feel, and behave the way we do? Or do you have a personal connection to issues around mental health and psychological wellbeing? These are just some of the areas that might interest you within the vast field of psychology.

Since psychology deals with the inner workings of our minds, it’s one of the most relatable and relevant disciplines. It’s easy to feel involved when studying phenomena you experience yourself, and psychology covers lots of issues that are crucial to our daily lives: memory, emotions, relationships, trauma, mental health, child development, and more. You won’t struggle to see the value of your learning, as you delve into cognitive processes, behavioural responses, and social interactions. 

Variety and versatility

Part of what makes psychology so fascinating as a discipline is its sheer scope and diversity. Intersecting with sociology, anthropology, medicine, philosophy, and more, the applications of psychology theory are almost infinite. As well as an incredible breadth of academic knowledge, psychology students graduate with a very versatile skill-set. Critical thinking, therapeutic skills, research methods, data analysis, and problem-solving are just some of the skills you’ll gain at the end of your degree.

With these skills in your arsenal, you’ll have access to an equally varied range of careers. Here are just a few of the careers a psychology degree can open up:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Business psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Mental health practitioner
  • Psychology researcher
  • Social worker
  • Mediator
  • Police officer
  • Life coach

>> Discover ten jobs you can do with a psychology degree

Personal growth

Studying psychology provides an insight into human behaviour, giving you a better understanding of yourself and the individuals around you. Quite apart from skills and qualifications, a psychology degree can also contribute to your personal growth. You’ll have an opportunity to develop your communication skills, empathy, self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

With the knowledge you gain, you might find it easier to navigate social and professional relationships. Or you might find you uncover useful strategies for managing your own mental health and wellbeing. As you hone your ability to understand and support others, you’ll find yourself better able to cope with personal challenges. This is a major motivating factor for anyone studying psychology. 

Rewarding careers

One of the most compelling reasons for studying psychology is the rewarding careers it opens up. We’ve already had a look at the range of psychology-related professions out there, and all of these roles have a meaningful impact on individuals and groups. Whether you’re supporting individuals to overcome difficulties, researching transformative mental health practices, or using psychological research to advise governments and businesses, you’re going to witness the results of your work in society. That makes psychology careers incredibly fulfilling.

In fact, with issues of mental health and wellbeing being spotlighted in all areas of society today, professionals with psychological expertise are more in demand than ever. You’ll never be short of ways to make a difference with your work.

Continual learning

Another thing that helps keep psychology fresh and interesting is how often the discipline evolves. Comparatively well funded compared to other scientific disciplines, psychology researchers daily make breakthroughs with a real influence on the medical profession, public policy, and wider social practice. With so much change and potential for new research in the field, you won’t get bored or run out of material.

That also means your learning is never complete in psychology. Even the most experienced researchers and practitioners will continue to encounter new theories and new areas for professional development. After graduating, you may want to deepen your learning in one specific area or delve into a new topic that wasn’t covered on your curriculum. The bottomless nature of the psychology discipline is one of its main draws.

>> Browse our list of psychology courses to continue your learning journey

How do I choose a psychology degree?

Once you’ve made up your mind to study psychology, you still need to settle on a particular pathway. With a huge number of different degrees and programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the range of psychology courses available. To help you decide, we’ve broken the options down into a few key types. Here are some of the routes available to you when studying psychology.

Start with a bachelor’s degree in psychology

If you want to keep things broad and build a firm academic foundation, then an undergraduate degree in psychology might be the best starting place for you. Most bachelor’s degrees last between three years full-time and five years-part-time, giving you the time to sink your teeth into all areas of psychology. You’ll gain an overview of the discipline in its diversity, covering all its core subfields and research methods.

Pivot into psychology with a conversion course

Anyone who already has an undergraduate degree, or equivalent professional experience, will need to take a conversion course to pivot into psychology. Usually completed in one to two years, psychology conversion degrees are a more focused fast track into the profession. You’ll cover slightly less ground than you would in a bachelor’s degree, without sacrificing on core knowledge and quality of training. At the end of the conversion, you’ll be in as strong a position for further study or psychology-related jobs as your peers who have taken the long route.

Train on the job with a professional certificate

If you already have a specific field or profession in mind, the easiest route in is a specialised professional certificate. You’ll gain the practical skills and training you need for your desired career, without spending more time than necessary on general psychological theory. Postgraduate certificates (PgCert), Level 6 diplomas, and foundation programmes, in counselling, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and more, are just some of the options out there in terms of professional certificates.

Learn online for greater convenience

Last but not least, whatever your specific career goals or circumstances, you may want to consider learning online. Offering a more flexible and affordable option compared to traditional on-campus programmes, online degrees can help you save time and money while gaining the qualification you need. You’ll learn at your own pace, in your own space, without sacrificing on the quality of your education. Which means your degree won’t get in the way of other commitments.

Make it happen

Now that you know why you want to study psychology, and what degree options are out there, you can get stuck into choosing an option. Browse our list of courses, programmes, and degrees to start your journey in the fascinating field of psychology.

>> Explore our collection of online psychology degrees

Online psychology degrees from FutureLearn

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