degree in psychology
Venezuelan psychologist Paola Hernandez, gives a phone-call to a patient in Caracas. Mental health is in check in Venezuela with the virulent second wave of COVID-19 Source: Federico Parra/AFP

What does a degree in psychology involve? Before we get into that let’s take a dive into what psychology actually is. More than speculation, it’s widely agreed upon that it’s the solution to the difficult and challenging issues we face. Such as: how to support employees with the work-life balance, dealing with a burnout, struggling post-pandemic challenges, facing racism, and so forth. 

Taking it back to 1879, psychology is the study of the mind — observing biological influences, social pressures and environmental factors — that affect how humans think, act and feel. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939, founder of the psychodynamic approach to psychology) stood by the unconscious drives to explain human behaviour — the id, ego and superego are three things that make up a person’s personality according to Freud. 

Fast forward to today, even in the fast-paced world of digitisation, psychologists simply cannot be replaced by technology. The level of human depth and understanding within this field of study is far from being dependent on an app, robots or AI. If you plan to join this enduring field, take a look at what you need to know about a degree in psychology:

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for a psychology degree vary from uni to uni. Although many good institutions don’t require specific qualifications, you’ll need a strong academic record, especially in science and maths). If you excel in sciences and the humanities you have a higher chance of getting accepted. 

Typically, a BA or BSc in Psychology will require you to have three A-Levels, a GCSE (or equivalent) C in Mathematics and an IB score of 30 (or equivalent). If you are an international student, you’ll have to prove your English proficiency with an exam such as the IELTS.  

For a postgraduate degree in psychology (MA or MSc), you should have a good honours degree in this field or a related discipline along with a research dissertation. Most unis will consider you if you do not meet those requirements (on a case-by-case basis) as long as they can see you have gained significant research experience in a psychology lab.

degree in psychology

Vienna University psychology students sit at the Votive Church in Vienna due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus restrictions, the uni transferred part of the lectures virtually to the nearby Votive Church. Source: Joe Klamar/AFP

What you’ll learn

With an undergraduate programme, expect to gain skills in the following area: analysing data, communication and teamwork, numeracy and technology literacy, presenting, understanding scientific literature, sensitivity to experiences and emotions, observing and storing information, and problem solving.

For your postgraduate studies, students usually choose to focus on a specialty area. Some of these include an MA or MSc in: experimental psychology, industrial-organisational psychology, forensic psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology and child development. 

What jobs you can get and what you’ll earn

You can expect to earn a high average salary of US$102,530 a year as an industrial-organisational psychologist. A master’s degree in psychology is the minimum training that’s required (but a PhD would only make you skip the waiting line!). This job tackles workplace issues to increase worker productivity — think of human resources but on a deeper level. 

A clinical psychologist requires a doctorate degree in psychology. This comes with an average salary of US$81,330 a year. You must also pass state licensing exams before you start. Clinical psychologists are trained in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illnesses. They work in hospitals, clinics and private practices.