May 31, 2016
If understanding what makes people tick is what makes you tick, you're not alone. The science of the mind may still be a relatively young discipline, but the National Center for Education Statistics consistently ranks psychology among the top majors in postsecondary institutions. In 2012-13, 6% of the 1.8 million bachelor's degrees conferred went to psychology majors. And the job market is ripe for those graduates. Employment in the social sciences is expected to increase about 7% overall until 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.* For psychologists, the outlook is even rosier, with growth in the job marketed projected to rise 19% until 2024.
But if your dreams of exploring human behavior and the inner workings of the brain come into direct conflict with the roadblocks and demands of your reality, consider going online to earn your degree in psychology. Southern New Hampshire University's online psychology program can help you hone the critical thinking, communication and research skills needed to succeed in the field, while allowing you the flexibility to tailor a road to graduation that best suits your own schedule.
SNHU's online psychology degree programs are designed with the non-traditional student in mind. Students enrolled in the undergraduate online campus span a wide age range, with an average age of 32. They come from every time zone and are often balancing a busy work and home life. While they all have different reasons for pursuing online study, convenience is a common refrain. Take April Judson, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in the graduating class of 2014. Judson said her education hit an all-too-familiar bump when she took a gap year after receiving her associate degree in human services.
"At the time, I planned to take a year off, since I needed a break from school," she said. "Little did I know, taking a year off would turn into four years."
For students like Judson, convenience is first and foremost when considering an online degree in psychology. She wasn't looking to pack up and move to a campus when her responsibilities demanded alternative arrangements. At first, it was daunting to even consider returning for her degree.
"Upon leaving school, it seemed impossible to go back. I worked two jobs and wondered how I was going to find the time to go back to school and pay my bills," she said. "Luckily, after much reservation, I decided to attend SNHU online classes."
Judson was able to hold down two jobs while she worked toward her degree. "I have made a lot of sacrifices to be successful and to maintain my grades," she said.
Once you make the decision to enroll, you don't have to wait until the fall to begin your studies. The undergraduate level offers six, 9-week term starts a year so you can begin when you are ready.
Because the online psychology classes at SNHU are asynchronous, students have no specific time period during which they must be in front of a computer, attending their class. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can complete your course requirements at any time of the day. This option eliminates the need for long commutes or childcare arrangements and also allows for accommodations of students with a diverse set of needs.
Gail Darrigo, who earned her bachelor's degree in psychology in 2015 at age 54, came to SNHU after suffering a stroke that left her severely visually impaired and unable to drive. She had lost the ability to continue her career in sleep technology, but was determined to find a way to help others - even though it meant a new direction.
"SNHU has afforded me the opportunity to pursue another avenue of the medical field with online classes," she said. "I'm hoping that this new area of the medical field will fulfill my passion of working with people that need help."
As SNHU students like Judson and Darrigo quickly learn, the convenience of an online experience does not have to mean your college study will be impersonal. The demands of an online psychology degree require dedication, time and effort, but you are never alone in that undertaking. Your success is a critical factor to SNHU's greater overall success. Support is available from the moment you embark on the admission process and continues at each bend in the road to your degree. SNHU's student-centered focus helps get to the heart of the goal you have in mind beyond graduation day. Admission staff will ask: Where do you want to be working? With what populations do you want to work? The six online psychology course concentrations at SNHU range from Addictions to Social Psychology. But from this robust menu of directions your degree in psychology could lead an even more diverse range of careers.
Finding out what you want to get out of your degree can help admission counselors steer you to the best option for you. A mental health degree could serve as the foundation for graduate work in clinical psychology or prepare you for a job that requires navigating interpersonal relationships, such as human resources management. Armed with the knowledge of what you hope to achieve as a goal can translate into a more efficient path, free of unnecessary detours.
Many students, like Michael Reeser '14, come to the table with course credits from other institutions. Reeser, a Marine, had earned an associate degree in business from a technical school. When he wanted to get ahead in his job at a juvenile treatment facility, he turned to SNHU for his degree in psychology.
"Finding time to go back to school was very difficult due to raising a family, working full-time and being in the reserves," he said. SNHU's attention to him as a person made a real difference. "SNHU has helped me every step of the way, and has always looked out for my best interests. Additionally, their military advisors are the best. They have helped me complete all necessary paperwork for the VA without any issues."
SNHU students can transfer up to 90 credits toward the completion of their undergraduate degree, which means the work you have done at other institutions will put you on a faster track to graduation. You won't even have to worry about the paperwork. When you complete the online application, the system will retrieve U.S. transcripts from most institutions automatically and complete an official credit evaluation, paving the way for a seamless transition.
Once enrolled, an advising team is on hand to first orient you to online learning and provide tips and tricks to staying on track. But don't assume you will be able to fade into the background in your classes. Each course has its own discussion group through the online learning environment. Classes themselves have an average size of about 20 students, making it easier to get to know your classmates and their perspectives. While a program like psychology is big enough that you may not always find yourself engaged in debate or collaborating with the same students every time, there will be some repetition. You will get to know your fellow students, even when they are miles away.
While it is easy to be just a face in a crowded lecture hall at your typical college campus, SNHU instructors will know who you are and expect you to participate. Those who may struggle with public speaking often find their confidence and a voice in the online discussion boards.
SNHU has built a reputation around its top-notch full-time psychology faculty. Students benefit from receiving instruction from veteran psychologists working in the real world, with relevant, practical experience to share. The size of the overall psychology program is quite large so the senior staff is able to assign instructors to teach the courses best suited to their experience and knowledge. All faculty receive training on the online tools used to teach the classes and top consideration is given to those with extensive teaching experience.
The fairly demanding model for faculty is pretty straightforward: The students always come first. Instructors are hired to facilitate the students and not just demonstrate their own knowledge.
SNHU students have come to expect responsiveness and faculty are encouraged to answer questions as soon as they can.
Support doesn't just come from the head of the class. A student social media platform - SNHU Connect - provides ample opportunities for students to engage with their peers about coursework and faculty. Finally, the growing online SNHU Psychology Club allows current students and alumni to network about internship and career opportunities nationwide.
SNHU's online psychology courses stick to a structured program that encompasses statistics and investigation. You can choose to focus on one of six areas of concentration: Addictions, Applied Psychology, Child and Adolescent Development, Forensic Psychology, Mental Health and Social Psychology - or opt out of a concentration and take electives from a variety of areas.
SNHU's online psychology degree puts a strong emphasis on the research skills needed in the field. Psychology is more than learning about abnormal behavior. SNHU students learn research techniques and statistical methods, as well as modeling as part of their coursework. They also conduct psychology studies on one another.
A senior seminar capstone project weaves together all the work done through your studies with a practical application.
Although psychology continues its reign in the top fields of study, not every graduate uses a bachelor's degree as a path toward clinical practice. The flexibility of the degree opens many lanes that head in diverse directions, depending on your interests and concentration.
Ashley Rohrbach, who is on track to graduate in 2017, said a psychology degree was essential to the pursuit of her dream job in advocacy.
While she was serving in the Air Force, Rohrbach worked as a sexual assault victim advocate. "I realized quickly that working as an advocate was my calling," she said.
Once her military service ended, she knew a degree in psychology would give her the necessary skills to aid victims to the best of her abilities. "SNHU has granted me the opportunity to pursue my dream degree and work in the field that I love," Rohrbach said.
Each concentration offers its own array of possibilities.
Students who pursue a concentration in addictions gain an understanding of how habits can evolve into addiction and how the cycle can be ended. You'll also the examine the moral and ethical issues tied to these problems, and how they can affect families, communities and society at large. The fields beyond graduation include work as a court liaison, victims' advocate or treatment specialist.
Although the addiction concentration itself does not lead to licensure or certification, the coursework may help you earn some of the hours required to work toward your goal.
Opt into the applied psychology concentration and you can focus on putting the psychological theories and approaches into practice. You'll work to apply long-standing concepts and current research to real-world scenarios that can give you a leg up in the fields of marketing, business and community service, or prepare you for graduate studies to continue your education.
A concentration in child and adolescent development can bolster your understanding and knowledge about how kids grow and develop, beginning at birth and continuing through adolescence. Life after your degree could put you to work in schools, clinics or hospitals.
Students who pursue forensic psychology can gain insights about crime from a psychological perspective. You'll delve into topics like strategies for interviewing witnesses, expert testimony and factors influencing the credibility of witnesses, victims and offenders. Graduates can take the skills learned in the study of the motives and patterns in criminal behavior, criminal profiling and eyewitness memory into successful careers in law enforcement, correctional facilities or working as a part of the judicial system.
A bachelor's degree in psychology with a mental health concentration builds the foundation of concepts and principles of therapy and assessment. You'll prepare to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology and counseling, or be primed for work in community-based mental health service organizations or a broader career in human resources management in any field.
A psychology degree with a concentration in social psychology helps you examine and analyze your thoughts, feelings and attitudes, as well as those of others and society at large. The skills you develop in better understanding human behavior should come in handy in almost any field: business, community relations, marketing and sales-related careers.
Even without a concentration, the skills you gain from a degree in psychology should be in high demand in the workforce. A strong liberal arts background like the one your online studies at SNHU can provide can be a springboard into jobs in market research, public relations, administration or mental health. You'll also be ready to pursue graduate coursework in psychology or other social sciences.
After a positive undergraduate experience, many students return to SNHU to complete a Master's in Psychology degree, enrolling in Master of Science programs including Master's in Child and Developmental Psychology, Master's in Forensic Psychology or Master's in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. A graduate degree brightens an already sunny job outlook. Persist in your studies and you may find your earning potential increase. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prospects in psychology are best for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty, although the outlook for the psychology field in general is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.
If you do return to SNHU for a higher degree, expect the same flexibility, convenience and attention you received at the undergraduate level.
Regardless of where your path takes you next, an online degree in psychology from SNHU could reward you for years to come. Judy Cutter '14 is happy that the success she worked so hard to achieve at SNHU will transfer to her career.
"Our parents always want our lives to be better than theirs was and by completing this degree it gets me a step closer," she said. "Not only have I found something I am good at, but I am passionate about it as well."
SNHU's options for online psychology degrees provide inroads to a vast array of careers, from education to law enforcement to corporations. Now you understand where your online psychology degree can take you. The road is waiting.
*Job market data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities and is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. SNHU cannot guarantee employment.
Five SNHU students were awarded scholarships by the Anita Borg Institute to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston this year.
While the titles may sound similar, and some job functions are the same, the educational paths for psychiatrists and psychologists are quite different.
October was online student engagement month, with a full roster of activities and events to introduce clubs and organizations, and provide chances to get involved.