If you are considering psychology as a major or minor, the information in this document might be useful. It briefly describes the psychology major at Wake Forest and answers common questions about majoring in psychology.
The psychology department’s goal is to provide majors with broad exposure to basic areas of psychology, along with an in-depth understanding of the methods by which psychological research is conducted. Regardless of whether your ultimate career goal is to become an applied psychologist (e.g., clinical psychologist, counselor, social worker, or consultant), to conduct behavioral research, to become a college professor, or to enter another profession altogether (e.g.,
law, business, medicine), a psychology major can be useful. This is because it provides in-depth knowledge about human thought, emotion, and behavior, which is
- relevant to any career; and
- through learning how psychologists research human thought, emotion, and behavior,
- students develop intellectual skills that allow them to generate and evaluate knowledge in many areas, including but not limited to psychology.
Thus, the Wake Forest psychology department aims to provide a rigorous and stimulating undergraduate education in both content and methods of psychology. Our department, like most undergraduate liberal arts departments, emphasizes research over applied work and research is a central component of many courses. A research emphasis in an undergraduate program provides the best preparation for applied graduate work as well as a strong foundation for a wide array of jobs.
Who should consider psychology as a major?
Students should consider majoring in psychology if they are interested in it and reasonably good at it. The experience in Introductory Psychology can help you to assess these two factors. If you had a sustained interest in many of the topics covered, the chances are good that you will enjoy being a psychology major. Another positive indicator is that you find psychological research interesting.
Regarding aptitude, making a grade of “A” or “B” in Introductory Psychology is a positive indicator. Students who receive a “C” in Intro Psych might find majoring in psychology more difficult than do other psychology majors. We do not encourage students who receive a grade below a “C” to major in psychology.
What is required to major (or minor) in psychology?
The psychology major has a minimum of 32 hours (up to a maximum of 50 hours), which works out to 11 to 17 courses including Introductory Psychology. A minor in psychology requires 15 hours, or approximately five courses, including Introductory. A complete listing of departmental offerings and information concerning requirements for majors can be obtained in the College Bulletin, from the Psychology Department Office, or on the department’s web site.
If I am considering psychology as a major, what should I take next?
We strongly recommend that anyone interested in a psychology major after the Introductory course take one more psychology elective before embarking on the required research methods courses (PSY 311 / 312). This elective can be chosen from the following list of courses which have only Introductory Psychology as a prerequisite:
- 241 Developmental Psychology
- 243 Biopsychology
- 245 Survey of Abnormal Behavior
- 248 Cognitive Psychology
- 255 Theories of Personality
- 260 Social Psychology
- 265 Human Sexuality
- 268 Industrial/Organization Psychology*
- 270 Topics in Psychology
- 322 Psychopharmacology
- 357 Cross-Cultural Psychology
- 359 Psychology of Gender*
- 364 Stereotyping and Prejudice
- 367 Effective Parent-Child Relationships
*These courses are not taught on a regular basis and are not scheduled to be taught in the next few semesters.
Are there any courses I have to take at specific times?
The only courses that must be taken at specific times are courses in the honors program, in which students take advanced methods classes and carry out their own research project. To complete the honors program, one cannot go abroad in the spring of the junior year or during the senior year. Furthermore, PSY 311 must be completed by fall of the junior year; therefore, although we generally recommend that majors wait to take the required Research Methods sequence
(PSY 311 and 312) until their junior year, students who think they are interested in our honors program and who will be going abroad in the fall of the junior year should consider taking PSY 311 in the spring of the sophomore year.
What do psychology majors do after graduation?
Our psychology majors do many different things after graduation. Not surprisingly, some majors go to graduate school in psychology or related fields (e.g., social work), with the intention of becoming practicing psychologists, counselors, researchers, consultants, or university professors. Other majors go on to professional schools in fields such as law, business, education, or medicine. Yet others enter the job market with the B.A. degree, obtaining employment in a wide variety of areas such as social or human service work, business, or research. The psychology department does several things to help its majors find and be competitive for both jobs and graduate school immediately following graduation. Sessions on career opportunities with and without a graduate degree are held every year. There is an extensive graduate school advising system within the department. Information about graduate school options and job opportunities is provided on a Blackboard site for our majors and minors and in several books that can be checked out from the psychology department office. In addition to providing information and advice, the department offers many opportunities for students to get involved in research by working in the lab of a faculty member. Regardless of whether one plans to do research in a career, research experiences provide many benefits that can strengthen both graduate school and job applications.
Why major in psychology?: In the words of our majors…
- “I have found being a psychology major a very rewarding experience because it incorporates multiple fields of study while retaining a focus on both the individual and the betterment of society.”
- “I’m very glad that I chose psychology as a major; because of its interesting and diverse subject matter, I was able to find my niche in the field and have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the department.”
- “Not only is psychology an interesting field of study, but it has very practical real world implications. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, my relationships, and human nature in general through the psychology classes that I’ve taken.”
- “Being a psychology major has allowed me to study topics that are both personally engaging and socially applicable. The department’s focus on research and statistics gives students a chance to better understand the information they’re studying, feel more invested in the field, and develop a more discerning eye towards media coverage of research. The department succeeds in exciting students to think critically and explore new topics of interest.”
- “The best thing about the psychology major at Wake is that the classes you are taking are relevant to everyday life. You are not just learning about things to learn, but rather are able to apply them to the world around you.”
- “The psychology major at Wake emphasizes a combination of critical thinking skills and learning about the human condition. Although I don’t plan on going on to graduate school in psychology, I feel that no other major could have given me this kind of knowledge.”
- “There are two things I love about being a psychology major at Wake: First, I will be graduating with one of the most versatile and applicable bachelor degrees. As a psychology major, I know that my education will be useful in any area of the work force that I choose. Second, the psychology department has only dedicated and caring professors that truly make your learning experience personal. These individuals are more like high school teachers that have known you for years than college professors that you only have for a semester.”
If you have questions concerning psychology as a major, you may ask your psychology professor or tell someone in the psychology office (Room 415, Greene Hall) you would like to speak to one of our psychology majors or to any other person on our staff.