Psychology as a Liberal Arts Degree

You can't really do much in psychology with only a B.A.

A psychology major certainly would not make you a psychologist. You would need a graduate degree for that. However, psychology is an excellent major for a liberal arts degree. That really is the main value of the W&M degree, the area of major is secondary.

What is so special about a liberal arts degree?

Quite a bit, especially when it comes from a school with an excellent reputation. A liberal arts program does not aim at training students for a specific job. It provides the broad foundation necessary for you to be able to learn and adapt in the future. Do you know what you will be doing 5, 10, or 20 years after graduation? What sort of education should you get now while in college for that unpredictable future? A liberal arts program prepares you for a long-term career rather than just for the first job after graduation.

How much is a B.A. in psychology worth as a liberal arts degree?

As part of a broad foundation, a major value of a liberal arts program is in communication skills (reading and writing). English majors would do well in this regard, but so would psychology and sociology students. The psychology concentration provides the extra benefit of a scientific and experimental emphasis that involves critical thinking and reasoning. In fact, a major attraction of the psychology concentration is that the courses touch on many neighboring disciplines from sociology to education to biology. This allows students to emphasize the side of psychology closest to their interests.

Is an undergraduate degree in psychology as good as other majors for getting a job after college?

Psychology majors do as well or better than other liberal arts students when it comes to finding jobs because they have a reputation for being bright and articulate. In addition, most people assume that the psychology major provides an extra understanding of human behavior that is useful on the job. It is true that the psychology major does not involve training for a specific (and, perhaps, dull and routine) job. However, it does provide an excellent preparation and background for work in a wide range of situations, not necessarily directly related to psychology.

What sorts of jobs would a degree with a Psychology major be good for?

A Psychology concentration as part of a liberal arts degree is as good as any for most jobs, including starting in the business world with management training. It is particularly suitable for positions dealing with people such as retailing, industrial relations and social work, as well as positions in many human service government agencies. Psychology is also a good background for teaching at the secondary level (with the necessary education courses).

What are the graduate school alternatives for a Psychology graduate?

You can continue in Psychology in a variety of directions, perhaps in one of the more applied areas including Clinical, Child, and Community. The people-oriented academic areas are Personality, Social, Developmental. There are also the more experimental areas such as Learning, Cognition, and Physiological. Psychology majors are also highly regarded in related graduate programs in Education, Business, Social Work, and Law.