If you are studying psychology in college, there are several courses you should take. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate degree programs out there. The study is intense, requiring years of analysis, evaluation, and critical thinking.
Whether you wish to enter the field to work as a psychologist or conduct research, it’s important to choose the psychology courses that align with your career goals.
Below is a guide to college psychology courses, including the most popular ones that every psych major should take to further their knowledge.
What Is Psychology?
Psychology is the study of minds and behavior. Psychologists research what we do and why by exploring all aspects of the human mind.
Some psychologists choose to focus on mental illness, mental health, or child development. Many others look into the behavior behind psychological disorders to understand why a person committed a crime or exhibits other strange behavior.
The field has many subfields and specializations, so it is important to take courses that you think will align with your career goals.
What Do You Study in Psychology Courses?
Psychology involves a great deal of research, discussion, and reading. Throughout your chosen degree program, you’ll look at the history of psychology, discuss the findings of popular scientists in the field, and learn theories and concepts.
Discussion is a significant part of psychology, and students must think critically and present their findings or perspectives on a topic regularly. Required readings are a staple of any psychology course. You will be constantly reading and exploring the work of others in the field.
In addition to reading, psychology students write several papers in each of their classes. These papers range from long-form essays to lab reports. In some courses, you will be required to peer review other students’ work and provide feedback.
In psychology, studying and research are imperative, and you will be required to communicate and explain your thoughts on a subject.
The Best Psychology Courses for Psych Majors
General psychology is the first course that many psych majors take. Even if you aren’t majoring in psychology, this is the first course you will take if you are interested in the subject. This introductory course gives you a broad overview of psychology.
There is a lot of information that goes into this class. It is intended to give you an understanding of what other psychology courses are like and what it means to work in the field of psychology.
Cognitive psychology is a course in which students learn about what goes on in the mind. It encompasses everything the mind does to process and receive information, such as perception, thinking, memory, language, learning, and problem-solving.
The cognitive psychology course will explore several complex subjects when it comes to human behavior and how our minds work. Students will read texts and write numerous papers on the subject.
Developmental psychology explores the ways humans develop from the time they are conceived to the end of their lifespan. There are several types of developmental psychology courses out there.
Some teachers will focus on a person’s entire life, while others will zero in only on child development. These courses typically explore the way outside factors, such as family, school and culture impact a person’s growth on the cognitive, emotional, and biological levels.
Social psychology is the study of the influence that social interactions have on a person’s behavior. This course explores topics such as leadership, peer pressure, persuasion, and nonverbal communication. In this course, you’ll be focusing on how a person’s social environment changes them.
Social psychology shares some similarities with sociology, but in social psychology, the topics are examined in a broader sense, with an emphasis on the situations that impact people’s behavior in social situations.
Clinical psychology courses give students a brief overview of the practice and theory of clinical psychology and counseling. These courses explore topics such as personality, assessment, and psychotherapy.
When people think of a psychologist, a clinical psychologist is usually what comes to mind. This course gives students a brief overview and understanding of what this position entails.
It takes years of study to become a clinical psychologist, so if that is your intended career goal, then this is a vital course.
A significant aspect of psychology is identifying the things that impact the way we think and act. An abnormal psychology course covers the influences that cause abnormal behavior, including biological, cultural, and environmental factors.
In this course, students learn about personality disorders, substance abuse, mood disorders, and psychosomatic disorders as well as how to assess, diagnose, and treat them.
Elective Courses to Take as a Psych Major
When choosing elective courses, students typically choose those that align with their future careers. If you have an interest in psychology, you may want to take some of the following courses to expand your horizons. Some of these elective courses may even help you find an area you would like to minor in.
Biology is the study of the way the body works. While it doesn’t directly align with psychology, many biological factors can have an impact on a person’s psychological state. Having an understanding of biology will better allow you to explore the connection between the mind and body.
Sociology is similar to psychology. It is the study of the way human society develops. Changes in human society have an impact on the way people grow and perceive the world. Many psychology students take courses in sociology and often choose to minor in it.
Studying psychology isn’t just about exploring the condition of modern humanity. Taking history classes will give you insight into the psychological state of people throughout history. In these courses, you will explore cultures, societal structures, and the way people interact.
This knowledge can help demonstrate to you how the environment, nature, and the passage of time has impacted the way people think and act.
How to Find Success in Psychology Courses
When starting your education in psychology, there are a few steps you should take to get the most out of your education. These will allow you to be more successful in your courses and potentially in your career.
Before you take a class, participate in an assignment, or take an exam, make sure you have properly prepared. Practice organization and time management. This way, you won’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work as you receive assignments in multiple courses at once.
Complete Assignments Early
While it is tempting to procrastinate, it is better to do your assignments early. Sometimes, unexpected situations may lead to your work getting deleted or you may not have enough time to complete required readings.
When possible, do your assignments early and you’ll be fully prepared for your next class.
Participate in Class
In the classroom, it is sometimes difficult to speak up or ask questions. However, students who are active class participants find more success and typically get better grades.
When a professor offers an opportunity for open discussion, share your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, as professors respond positively to students who are active in class.
Improve Your Writing
Being able to write well will be vital throughout your degree program in psychology. Excellent psychology papers show that you are a strong communicator. They demonstrate your ability to plan, use proper research methods, and convey your ideas on a specific topic.
In most cases, psychology papers follow a specific format. If you aren’t sure what the proper format is for a paper, ask your professor directly. There are also several resources online to give you an example of how to create a well-written paper.
Psychology is an incredible field of study and will give you insight into how the mind works. It will take several years of study to complete a major, and decades of study to fully understand. As the field of psychology grows, we are getting closer to understanding the intricacies of the human mind.
From exploring the mental processes of human beings to exploring the effects of negative and positive psychology, you will have a lot to learn in your Psych major.
The first step to becoming a psychologist is completing these courses, which will help you earn your bachelor’s degree as you prepare for a career in the field.