Why Is Psychology Such a Popular Major?

John Lund / Getty Images

The number of students majoring in psychology has grown tremendously in recent decades. On college campuses throughout the world, psychology frequently ranks in the top five most popular majors, and on many campuses it is the single most popular major.

So why exactly is psychology so popular?

Here are a few reasons why we think earning a psychology degree appeals to so many students.


Psychology Is Fascinating

Is there anything more interesting than the amazing and sometimes bewildering ways that people think, feel, and act? At the heart of so many disciplines lies the desire to better understand who we are—as individuals, as societies, and as a species. Psychology delves right into the very depths of this yearning for knowledge and seeks answers to some of the major questions that we all share. Who are we? How did we get this way? Is it possible to change? Psychology can offer us insight and answers.


Psychology Helps Us Better Understand Ourselves

Young adulthood is often a time in which people explore different facets of themselves and try to establish who they are as individuals. For this reason alone, it is not surprising that psychology holds so much interest for college students. College can be a time of considerable transition and change as young people leave the nest, so to speak, and make their way into the world on their own.

College-age people are often still working on forging a personal identity and figuring out who they really are. Many also grapple with the emotional turmoil brought on by love and romantic relationships. With so many highs and lows going on during this busy time of a person’s life, studying the human mind and behavior can help offer personal insights and a deeper, richer understanding of the self.

No wonder so many college students decide to major in psychology.


Psychology Helps Us Better Understand Others

If you have ever found yourself completely baffled by the behavior of other people (and really, who hasn’t?), then you probably understand the desire to better understand how people think and act the way they do. Psychology majors learn about so many different aspects of the human mind and behavior, from the genetic and environmental influences that contribute to​ the development of the societal forces that influence individual behavior. All of this contributes to a much better understanding of other people. After studying psychology, students often find that they can better predict and explain how other people will react. Studying psychology can also help students gain greater interpersonal and communication skills.


There Are Lots of Career Options

While psychology majors are often called out on lists of lowest paid professions, the reality is that there is an enormous variety of the career options that are available. Those who earn a bachelor’s degree often do find fewer job opportunities and lower pay, but an undergraduate degree can also serve as a stepping stone toward graduate study in psychology, counseling, law, business, or medicine. There are tons of career paths that psychology majors can choose from, and it is this variety that appeals to many students.


You Can Help Others

helping others
Blend Images - Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images

Studying psychology can not only give a deeper understanding of yourself and others, but it can also be a direct path toward making a difference in other people's lives. If you have ever wanted to help people who are suffering, majoring in psychology can lead you to a career in a helping profession. For example, you might opt to pursue a master's in counseling after earning your undergraduate degree in psychology in order to become a counselor working with kids who need academic, social, and emotional assistance. Or you might opt to become a social worker and help people who are facing a variety of psychological difficulties. You might also opt to become a health psychologist and work on public policy issues that directly impact people's health and well-being.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, there are plenty of great reasons to study psychology. Is majoring in psychology the right choice for you? Be sure to check out our list of 10 great reasons to earn a psychology degree as well as 5 reasons why you might not be cut out to be a psychology major before you decide. There are also good options when choosing a minor to study when you are majoring in psychology.

2 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. Clay RA. Trends report: Psychology is more popular than ever. Monitor on Psychology. 2017;48(10):44.

  2. American Psychological Association. CWS Data Tool: Careers in Psychology [Interactive data tool].

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