What is Psychology?

Understanding the Psychology Discipline

Generally speaking, psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior.  Psychologists study the individual, social, physiological, developmental, and environmental effects on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  Because psychology is considered a science, psychologists are experienced with statistics and research methodology.

Deciding if Psychology is Right for You
Psychology is a popular major at Minnesota State University.  Below are some questions you should ask yourself when deciding if it’s the right major for you.

Do you like learning about how people think, act certain ways, and how they perceive the world?
If course requirements match up with the things you are interested in, you will probably enjoy a psychology major even when you have difficult assignments.  So if you answered yes, psychology might be a good fit for you.

What are your long-term career goals?
The popular view that psychologists work with clients in an independent practice is inaccurate-- only about 8% work in individual and group practices, and only another 10% provide counseling through association with managed care providers (Source: APA Research Office).

Psychology is about more than counseling people with problems or disorders.The majority of psychologists work in universities, businesses, or the government, where they conduct research, act as consultants, and teach.  

Do you enjoy research methods and statistics?
Almost every class you take in psychology will include a section devoted to research methods.  Because psychology is a science, the processes by which we learn about behavior and thought require an understanding of methodology and proper experimentation techniques.  The skills that you acquire in these classes are invaluable as you go into the job market, even if you don't plan on becoming a researcher.

Do you plan on pursuing an MA or Ph.D.?
In many cases, if you want to conduct research, assessment or counseling, you will need an advanced degree.  However, the majority of psychology majors move into other fields and use many of the skills they have gained from their psychology major to help them succeed.

Related Skills, Diciplines, and Opportunities for Psych Majors
Some of the skills you will earn with a major in psychology include:

  • Numerical Literacy
  • Computer Skills
  • Information-Gathering Skills
  • Research Skills
  • Measurement Skills
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Presentation Skills
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Perspective-Taking Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Pragmatism
  • Higher-Order Analysis

Many graduates work in fields such as sales, labor relations, real estate, marketing, social work, child care, law enforcement, and career counseling.  The majority of psychology majors go on to work in for-profit organizations in a variety of roles.

More Information
If you would like to learn more about psychology, please take the time to look through some of the information we've posted on our webpages.  You can also make an appointment with a faculty member to get some of your questions about the major, graduate school, and job prospects answered.

Meet our Faculty and Staff