The most fascinating study involves the human mind. Psychology, the formal study of the human mind and behavior, allows students to delve deeply into the mind and, as professionals, help those experiencing mental health issues. Becoming a psychologist is not easy, but is a challenging, rewarding field. There are also many specializations within psychology, including clinical psychology, industrial psychology, forensic psychology, research psychology, and more.
The first step in the process is the completion of an undergraduate degree. From there, the student must go on to further education, including completion of a master’s or doctoral degree, work under supervision, and licensing. For those truly dedicated to understanding the mind and how they can help others, this long road is well worth the trip.
Resources for Before and After College
Resources for Psychology Students
If you plan to obtain an undergraduate psychology degree, it is crucial to attend a school with a psychology-specific accreditation. That means you will earn the best education possible. It also means you are avoiding the type of school known as a diploma mill, with substandard program content.
Accreditation means the program meets the strict professional standards imposed by the accreditation agency. Attending a school that does not obtain such accreditation means it will prove difficult, if not impossible, to receive licensure in the field.
Look for accreditation by the following bodies when considering schools:
- American Psychological Association:
The APA does not credit undergraduate or master’s degree program, only doctoral programs.
- Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards:
The ASPPB also solely credits doctoral programs.
- Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education:
COAMFTE accredits programs on the master’s and doctoral levels in this particular concentration.
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP):
CACREP accredits programs offering master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology-related fields.
- Masters in Psychology and Accreditation Council:
As the name implies, MPAC focuses on accreditation of master’s degree programs.
- National Association of School Psychologists:
NASP reviews and accredits school psychology programs on the graduate level.
Questions About Financial Aid
Although a student may have a passion for psychology, he or she must also determine how to pay for the degree. The good news is that there are a variety of options available to help students pay for college including scholarships, grants, and student loans. The first two almost never need repayment. When it comes to student loans, there are funds available on the federal and state level, and some students may benefit from a personal loan from someone wanting to sponsor their education.
Begin seeking scholarships while in high school. Your high school guidance counselor can advise you on available local scholarship opportunities, and there are plenty of online resources. You can even look for scholarships specifically designed for those majoring in psychology. After you are accepted at a college or university, you can contact the financial aid office for even more scholarship opportunity information.
Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for federal Stafford loans, which require repayment. Stafford loans are available in two forms: subsidized and unsubsidized. With the former, no interest is paid on the loan while the student is still in school. The latter gathers interest charges from the beginning, increasing the cost to the student until it is fully paid. However, a student receiving a subsidized loan must show the government they have a financial need for the subsidy, which is not the case with an unsubsidized Stafford loan. Generally, an unsubsidized loan allows for higher borrowing limits.
Students do not have to repay federal grants. These grants pay for tuition and expenses and are based on the costs at the school the student attends, along with financial need and whether the student attends school on a full or part-time basis.
Psychology Associations for Students
Your college or university may have its own association specifically for psychology students. But beyond your own school, there are other psychology associations designed for students, or with student chapters, as well as professional organizations offering special student access to their networks. Regional psychological associations have student chapters, and students have the opportunity to attend annual conferences and start professional network development. Many state psychological organizations also have student chapters.
- American Psychological Association:
The APA offers student memberships for undergraduates. Undergraduates can also become an APA graduate student member for a small fee.
- Association for Psychological Science:
APS has a student association, which provides mentorships as well as opportunities for students to enhance their professional development.
- Psi Chi:
Although not an association per se, Psi Chi is the international honor society in psychology. Students qualifying for membership have numerous opportunities, including leadership at the local chapter level.
- Psi Beta:
Those attending a community college may qualify for this honor society if they have a GPA of at least 3.25 and have taken a psychology course.
- Society for Personality and Social Psychology:
SPSP offers student membership for graduates and undergraduate students interested in the study of social psychology and personality.
Student or Open Access Journals
Professional journals in specific fields provide students with the latest developments in their area of psychological interest. An open access journal is one that professors and their students can access for the most up-to-date research available, as compared to those journals available only by subscription. These resources allow students to learn about results of current studies, new psychological theories, cutting edge research, and trends in the field. From reading these journals, students not only learn more about their field of study, but may find that there is specific psychological work they want to pursue once their studies are completed.
Psychology Study Resources
There are many online psychology study resources available that can add to your understanding of principles and help you do well throughout your academic career. There are many different aspects to psychology, and it is important to keep abreast of critical research studies on various topics. It is also crucial to familiarize yourself with research methodology, experiments, and all the other components of the field.
Here are some online resources that can help you expand your knowledge of psychology, and aid you in your studies and professional life:
- APA Journals:
This site offers access to 36 or more psychological journals, allowing students to stay current on research.
- National Institute of Mental Health:
The leading US agency for research into mental disorders, the NIMH, provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in a career in the mental health field.
- Online Psychology Laboratory:
This APA site allows students explore psychology via experiments and interactive studies.
- Psychology Research on the Net:
This site provides students with links to studies on the internet focused on psychology. Students can find the latest studies on topics in dozens of categories.
- Simply Psychology:
Students will discover many useful tools for psychological research on this site, including an in-depth explanation of methodology.
There is no shortage of apps for psychology students in our technological society. Such apps not only expand your knowledge in the field, but can also help prepare you for examinations.
Some of the top apps for psychology students include:
- 3-D Brain:
This app allows students to view the different regions of the brain in 3-D. The 29 interactive structures include information on brain function and mental illness.
- Abnormal Psychology:
Listen to this 26-chapter podcast which focuses on ways in which personality becomes disordered. The class features Professor Frederick J. Rocco.
- APA app:
Of course, the APA has apps available for psychology students. Along with apps, you can also follow APA’s Facebook social media account to learn and join in the conversations.
- Citation Machine:
This app ensures students formatting papers can adhere to APA formatting standards so their work does not contain simple errors.
This free app lets you avoid taking notes during classes and instead utilizes your iPhone for this purpose. Notes may involve voice, images, or text, and the app makes it easy to access them.
- Graduate Record Exam Test Prep:
Since psychology majors must go on to graduate school for a career in their field, the GRE test prep app helps them get ready for this essential exam with study guides and other assistance.
- Psych Explorer:
Keep up to date with current information and videos in this app designed specifically for students. It is also a great source for term project ideas.
Internships provide invaluable experience for psychology students, while working under professional supervision. Internships for psychology undergraduates are not as plentiful as those for graduate students, but your professors may know of opportunities. If attending a school with a graduate research program, check to see if they have internships available. Your school’s annual job fair may provide information on psychology internships and psychology job boards are another good source.
When considering an internship, look for those which make your responsibilities, obligations, work hours, and similar factors clear. Keep in mind that internships are competitive and, not only must you stand out academically, but you should also apply for these positions six months to a year in advance. Internships may take place in many settings, ranging from hospitals or human services centers, to educational facilities and more. Look for a setting reflecting your career goals.
Here are some internship opportunities:
- APA Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience Grants:
Each year, APA offers research experience grants to six universities that hire undergraduate students for an 8-week position. This is a paid internship, and students learn how to conduct scientific research in the field of psychology.
- APPICC Internship Matching Program:
The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers offers a program matching psychology graduate students with available internships.
- Social Psychology Network:
This online psychology network includes internships and fellowships.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Psychology Certification Options
Psychology is such a broad field that every certification you earn can help you in your career. While you can choose to earn a variety of different types of certification, keep in mind each certification has its own level, and this affects the amount of experience needed to earn it and its relative difficulty. State requirements for certifications may vary, so make sure the types of certifications or licensures earned meet the standards of the state in which you intend to practice. Certifications should be approved by the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Some of the best-known psychology certifications include:
- Clinical Psychology:
This involves the direct diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues
- Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology:
Treatment of young people with mental health issues
- Forensic Psychology:
Investigate psychological issues in the civil and criminal legal field
Dealing with the psychological issues of older people
- Rehabilitation psychology:
This certification deals with addiction treatment
- School Psychology:
Focus on the psychological well-being of students from grade school through high school
Certification Study Resources
Passing your certificate and licensure tests is often difficult, but there are study resources available that can help you successfully complete these examinations. The results of your tests are paramount for your career aspirations, so make sure you know what you’re getting into instead of relying only on your past experience or education.
One of the best ways to find employment as a psychologist is via a professional job board.
Some of the leading job boards in this field include:
Temp agencies specializing in supplying psychology professionals are useful for students just out of school who need to gain experience, as well as professionals having trouble finding a job or wanting to make a shift their career focus. For any of these groups, temping through a psychology-specific agency can provide both work and opportunities for professional development.
Temp agencies specializing in placing psychology professionals include:
Resources for Psychology Professionals
Once you finally get out of school and into the work force, joining professional psychology associations is crucial. While each state has their own professional psychology association and becoming a member of your state’s association may be a good idea, there are national associations whose membership you should also consider. These associations offer countless resources, including seminars, workshops, classes, scholarly articles, and many opportunities for professional development.
The best-known psychology associations include:
Practicing psychology means staying current with the latest research. When it comes to keeping up to date in what is happening in your field, professional journals are invaluable. These journals are often available to members of professional associations as part of the membership fee or at a significant discount.
- American Psychologist:
Published by the APA, this is among the most popular of professional psychology journals.
- Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research:
Another APA publication, this journal’s contents are overseen by the Society of Consulting Psychology, an APA division.
- Psychological Review:
Also published by the APA, this journal focuses on articles making critical theoretical contributions to all areas of psychology.
- Journal of School Psychology:
This publication from the Society for the Study of School Psychology offers original articles and critical reviews of the latest literature in the practice.
Industry Conferences for Psychology Professionals
Industry conferences allow attendees to network with their peers and advance their professional development. As the APA notes, conferences offer an opportunity to find out about internships, jobs, and research projects. You’ll also learn about the new research and the current state of your field.
- Association for Psychological Science Association:
This annual conference, held in late May, includes student presentations and has student travel assistance available for those presenting.
- International Society for Development Psychobiology:
The ISDP encourages research on behavior development.
- International Conference on Personality Psychology
- Western Psychological Association:
This major regional conference “stimulates the exchange of scientific and professional ideas”, while enhancing research in the behavioral sciences.
Professional Psychology Software
No matter your practice focus, professional psychology software plays a role. Familiarity with certain types of software commonly used in the profession may help you land a position in which this software is used, giving you an advantage over applicants who will have a steep learning curve. Professional psychology software involves both practice specialization and practical software for the business aspect of your office.
This Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform for those in the behavioral health field offers scheduling, claim management, treatment plan workflows, state-specific reporting, and consumer engagement opportunities.
Used for behavioral research, E-Prime provides easy data collection and analysis, as well as the ability to build your own experiments.
Luminello calls itself “the most affordable and user-friendly” Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software available for mental health professionals. This software was designed by mental health professionals who know exactly what such practices need.
This software, designed for clinical psychologists, notes that it fits the needs of programs, so that practitioners do not have to fit their program around the software.
- Therapy Notes:
This online EHR software combines practice management and billing software for those in the mental health field.
This complete practice management software for mental health therapists includes not only practice management and billing features, but also allows you to market your practice easily.