The Psychology Major

At Notre Dame, psychology majors achieve a balance among basic psychological principles, research methods and theories, and their application to applied areas such as child education and development, counseling, and developmental disabilities. The curriculum emphasizes quantitative and research methods and gives students a variety of opportunities for close faculty-student involvement in research projects. The holistic program prepares our majors for success in their graduate endeavors.

We also serve those students who are interested in psychology as part of a broader liberal arts program or to supplement another major interest. Since most careers involve interpersonal interactions and relationships with clients, superiors, subordinates and peers, the ability to understand behaviors is an integral tool for success in the workplace. Our students acquire the critical thinking, data analysis, and research methods skills invaluable to all who seek professional careers.

What is Psychology? 

Psychology, a remarkably broad science, is the scientific study of human behavior. It focuses on the following aspects of human behavior: physiological, sensory and perceptual, cognitive, learning and memory, developmental, social, and personality processes.

Psychologists use scientific methods such as careful observation, experimentation, and analysis and are creative in their application of scientific findings. They evolve new approaches from established knowledge to meet the changing needs of people and societies and develop and evaluate theories through research. Research-based knowledge becomes part of the body of expertise that practitioners draw upon in their daily work.

Psychology is a tremendously varied field. Students become sought-after professionals because they are able to understand their own and others' behavior, collect, analyze, and interpret data, and have mastered statistics and experimental design.

Fields such biology and sociology supplement psychological concepts. Biologists research the structures and functions of living organisms, sociologists investigate the manner in which groups function in society, and psychologists study the relationships among brain function, the environment, and behavior.


The study of psychology at the bachelor's level is excellent preparation for many other professions. Research indicates that many who graduate with a psychology major are not necessarily interested in a career as a psychologist. In fact, it seems that less than 1 in 10 psychology graduates in 1996 enrolled in graduate work in psychology. Psychology graduates typically possess:

  • good research and writing skills
  • excellent problem solving skills
  • well-developed higher-level thinking ability in analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information
  • excellent people skills (an understanding of their own and the behavior of others)

People may, for example, work in rehabilitation centers as assistants or within organizations such as child protective services as case managers. In addition, graduates can teach psychology in high school if they meet state certification requirements.

Arts and Letters students from every major succeed in business, graduate or professional school, or full-time service. Learn more about the career outcomes of all of our graduates, including Psychology majors.

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