Freud Defunct: What’s Changing in Psychology Education Today

Image by PourquoiPas,

Image by PourquoiPas,

The academic and professional worlds of psychology are constantly changing, and as illustrated below, university psychology programs are now increasing their focus on quality and practicality. Changing education is all part of an adjusting science, and psychology is certainly an area that has adapted and moved with the times. How it is taught today differs greatly from what was taught in the past.

Ph.D. Diversity
There is a growing trend towards favoring diverse career options among psychology departments across the country. Most PhD graduates go on to work in mental health services related to clinical and school counseling. Some graduates become counselors who work in unique settings, such as corporate offices, correctional facilities, and faith-based organizations. Many Ph.D. graduates prefer careers in applied research settings instead of classroom-based teaching positions and more and more graduates are going into alternative areas related to social, personality, developmental and industrial/organizational psychology.

Career Driven
Psychology students aren’t just interested in abstract concepts; they want lucrative and rewarding careers in applied psychology. A growing number of students aren’t working in academic or research settings, but in business fields. For instance, many graduates go on to become HR, operational, and organizational managers. These non-traditional positions for psychology students provide plenty of opportunities to apply their skills and education across a wide range of occupational settings. Psychology students who work in for-profit organizations help executives understand the complexities of employee functioning and relationships.

Practicality First
Most psychology degree programs in universities are adjusting the curriculum to incorporate real-world problem solving. For instance, students in programs to become a board certified behavior analysts will focus on hands-on tools and techniques to help their clients overcome problems. A behavior analysis degree will cover research design and analysis within the framework of real-world situations. Students will most likely be expected to develop and execute their own research during their education. Alternatively, students who specialize in industrial/organizational psychology will focus on how to evaluate and improve leadership, motivation and workplace behaviors.

Many psychology programs now offer degree specializations that focus on very specific areas. For instance, solving social problems isn’t just for social workers and policy makers. Some students choose to study human services in order to work for government agencies such as their state’s Department of Human Services. Other popular specializations include addictions, which covers how to assist those with substance abuse problems, and forensics, which involves criminal profiling and mental health assessments for criminals. Additional specializations include behavioral neuroscience, sports psychology, and engineering-based psychology.

As society becomes more diverse and as technology changes, psychology education will continue to lean towards practical skills and real-world situations in social or business environments.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

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