It’s time we talked about our mental well-being more openly and no wonder, young people are already leading that conversation on various platforms.
The pandemic has also revealed the acute shortage of mental health professionals, given that more and more people are in need of help and support than ever before.
All of this points to the fact that a career in Psychology is going to be as promising as rewarding in the coming days. If you have been thinking about it, it’s worth exploring your options and what to expect.
What is Psychology
It is the study of human behaviour and mental processes to understand how we think, act and feel.
Regarded as a ‘hub science’ (meaning that it is linked with other fields of study), Psychology has strong ties with medical science, social sciences and education.
Difference between Psychologist and Psychiatrist
- Psychologists and psychiatrists are trained differently. Students of Psychology study cognition and human behaviour, while students of Psychiatry study biology and medicine.
- During counselling, psychologists address concerns around well-being and offer support to those consulting them in leading happier, productive lives.
- Psychiatry is a specialised branch of medical science that looks into the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional and behavioural issues with medication. One needs to have an MBBS degree to be able to study Psychiatry.
- Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists cannot prescribe medication but they may refer people experiencing mental health problems to psychiatrists for medical treatment.
- A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is the highest degree awarded to a psychologist. Because of the emphasis on research, the PhD is seen as more advantageous for a career in academics. But if one wishes to pursue a career around applied or clinical practice, then PsyD is a better option.
- Psychiatrists always have a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree (only for medical graduates in the USA).
Job prospects after studying Psychology
- After your 3-year BA or BSc degree, you can train to be a psychologist or a mental health professional by going in for a master’s with a specialisation and then an MPhil.
- To get into academics and teaching at the college level, your first step will be to clear the NET (National Eligibility Test) after postgraduation.
- Teaching in school is another option. Several high schools are embracing Psychology as a subject at the Plus-Two level. If you are looking to become a school teacher, a BEd degree will be needed on top of your postgraduate degree in Psychology.
- School counsellors are much in demand as mental health issues among young people are on the rise and more and more schools are coming forward to address this. You’ll need a certification diploma in school counselling after your postgraduation to work as a school counsellor.
- A host of opportunities are opening up in private and public organisations where people with a background in Psychology are needed for personality assessment, performance review, training of staff and offering mental health support to employees.
- In the developmental sector, NGOs (non-profit organisations) and policymaking bodies hire people with training in Psychology to assess issues impacting health and well-being in communities and to come up with appropriate interventional initiatives.
Pursuing higher studies in Psychology
Class XI-XII: Many schools include Psychology in their Plus-Two curriculum. You can take Psychology as a subject in Arts, Science or Commerce streams.
Undergraduate (BA/BSc) degree: You can get either a BA or a BSc degree in Psychology from a UGC-recognised institution. There is no fundamental difference between these degrees. In the undergraduate course, you will learn different aspects of Psychology and can choose your areas of interest for higher studies.
Topics like General Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Organisational Behaviour are introduced at the undergraduate level, generally, without any specialisation.
Specialisations are usually taught at the postgraduate level. However, some universities, such as MS University Baroda, offer specialisation in one of the branches in the third year of their undergraduate programme.
Admission to BA/BSc programme: The admission process varies from one university to another. In most cases, it is based on admission tests or the grades you’ve got in your Class XII board exams.
Postgraduate (MA/MSc) degree: You can choose your area of specialisation after graduation. Here are some options:
● Clinical Psychology
● Applied Psychology
● Industrial Psychology or Organisational Psychology
● Forensic Psychology
● Educational Psychology
● Developmental Psychology
● Experimental Psychology
● Environmental Psychology
● Crisis Management
How to choose a university
Look at the NAAC scores, faculty members and research publications of the universities of your choice. Go through the official websites of the universities; this will give you a fair idea.
Admission to the postgraduate programmes will be based on entrance exams or your BA/BSc grades. Different universities have different selection criteria.