6 Alternative Graduate Programs for Psychology Majors

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An undergraduate degree in psychology provides excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers. While many undergraduate psychology majors later choose to study psychology in graduate school, some students opt for different educational and career paths.

The great thing about a bachelor's degree in psychology is that it provides preparation for graduate study in many different areas. Psychology majors often go on to study education, counseling, or social work in graduate school. Some students even opt for continued study in law or medicine.

Alternative Master's Degree Paths for Psychology Majors

Before you choose a graduate program, it is important to consider your options and personal interests. If you’re thinking of pursuing graduate study outside of psychology, you may think of some of the following alternative education paths for psychology majors.

Social Work

Social work is a rapidly growing field with a wide range of opportunities. Social workers help individuals and families overcome problems such as poverty, disability, domestic abuse, and addictions. Psychology majors interested in this career are well-qualified for most Masters of Social Work programs.

Master’s level social workers are in high demand in private practices, hospitals, government settings, police departments, nursing homes, and many more areas. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, social work careers are expected to grow faster than the average occupation between 2018 and 2028.

If you are interested in a highly rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in people's lives, consider pursuing a master’s degree in social work.


There are many education programs where an undergraduate degree in psychology could be beneficial. Some psychology majors choose to become certified teachers and apply their knowledge of human behavior and learning directly in the classroom.

Other programs such as educational psychology, school psychology, educational technology, curriculum planning, and educational assessment are all possible educational paths for undergraduate psychology majors.


Counseling is another option for those who want to work as marriage and family therapists, school counselors, or mental health counselors. Becoming a licensed counselor requires a master's degree plus at least two years of supervised experience.

If you love working with people, consider programs in marriage and family counseling, school counseling, or mental health counseling.

Law and Criminal Justice

The understanding of human behavior and communication skills acquired during the undergraduate study in psychology also provides excellent training for a career in law and criminal justice.

Some psychology majors opt for law school after graduation, while others choose to pursue careers in criminology or forensic psychology.

Academic Advising and Student Affairs

A career in academic advising or student affairs might be an excellent choice if you enjoy college life and want to help university students achieve their academic goals. Academic advisors help students choose classes, majors, internships, and other important educational matters. They also deal with admissions decisions, financial aid, scholarships, and career placement. Some also teach undergraduate courses in study skills and student living.

If you are interested in helping students find success in college, a graduate degree in academic advising or student affairs might be the perfect choice for you.

Medicine and Health Sciences

Psychology majors with a strong interest in science might want to consider a career in medicine or the health sciences. While many pre-med students opt for undergraduate degrees in biology or chemistry, an undergraduate degree in psychology is also good preparation for a career in medicine.

If you are considering future study in the health sciences, you can improve your chances of success by taking plenty of courses in science and math while you are an undergraduate.

Potential educational paths include medical school or graduate study in occupational therapy or physical therapy.

A Word From Verywell

Before you decide which career path is best for you, take stock of your needs, interests, and career goals. An undergraduate degree in psychology is excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers. The interpersonal, communication, writing, and research skills you have acquired as a psychology major can help you succeed in both graduate school and the workforce.

Consider your options carefully before making the choice that is best for you.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Landrum RE. What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology? Like this title, the actual answer is complicated. American Psychological Association.

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social Workers. Occupational Outlook Handbook.

  3. American Counseling Association. State licensing of professional counselors.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."