Skills to Improve on as a Psychology Major

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Earning a psychology degree certainly requires a number of different skills and abilities, and, as with any field of study, you should start out your education by improving your skills in these areas. In many cases, these may be topics that you have already studied in high school, so you may have a certain level of familiarity with them. In other instances, you might need to beef up your understanding by taking some extra courses during your first or second year of university study.


At first glance, you might wonder why studying psychology requires math skills. After all, psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, so what does that have to do with mathematics? A great deal it, turns out. Psychology students need to be able to interpret data, understand probabilities and correlations and know how to perform a range of different statistical calculations.

Even if you have a limited background in mathematics, this doesn't mean that psychology is off-limits. During the undergraduate years, most students are required to take several math classes to fulfill both general education and program requirements. This is a great opportunity to brush up on your numeracy skills and discover how psychologists use statistics to perform research and understand data.


Psychology is all about people, so having strong interpersonal skills is important. If you are interested in pursuing a future career in mental health, you will need to be able to interact with people experiencing a wide range of psychological, emotional, and social problems. Even if you plan to become a research scientist, you will need to rely on your communication skills to convey information in both written and verbal form.

Communication skills like knowing how to cope with and resolve conflict and how to comfort someone experiencing a crisis can be particularly important when pursuing a career in psychology.

Research and Problem-Solving

As a psychology student, you are going to be spending a tremendous amount of time doing research. This might involve performing literature reviews on different topics or collecting data for your own experiments. Strong research skills are vital. Psychology students receive a great deal of training on topics such as research methods. Through your psychology courses, you will learn the basics of the scientific method, various research methods used in psychology, as well as how to conduct psychology experiments.

Study Skills

Doing well in your psychology classes requires excellent study skills. Juggling a full course load of complex classes that require lots of reading and contain an abundance of information means that you will need to rely on stellar study habits. These skills can include such things as spacing out your study sessions and taking good class notes.

You might have already developed some great study habits in high school. However, the transition to college life sometimes makes it difficult to maintain those good habits. One way to remedy this problem is to enroll in a study skills class or look for tutoring assistance offered through your university or your school's psychology department.

Psychology can be a fun, challenging, and fascinating subject. Having the right skills can help you succeed. If you love the subject, don’t be afraid to dive in and start working on some of the skills it will take to succeed as a psychology major.

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.