Psychology Major, The: Career Options and Strategies for Success

R. Eric Landrum / Stephen F. Davis  
Total pages
February 2013
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Strategies for success for the psychology major


Landrum/Davis provides strategies for success that will allow students to achieve their career goals, whatever they may be. The authors provide fundamental tips and advice that can be useful to all students, but especially useful for psychology majors.


This text standardizes and catalogs much of the practical advice that professors often give to students–providing tips on how to do well in all classes, how to find research ideas, and how to write papers in general APA format. Also, the book contains up-to-date career information that faculty might not normally have at their fingertips, including the latest salary figures for a number of psychology-related jobs and occupations.


Learning Goals

Upon completing this book, readers should be able to:

  • Describe why psychology is a practical subject for any student to study.
  • Identify career opportunities for holders of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology
  • Identify career opportunities for holders of a Master’s or Doctoral degree in psychology.
  • Find research ideas and write papers in APA format.


  • Learning architecture- the text is formatted to help students though the learning process.
    • Chapter-end, 'hands-on' exercises-  Involves students in the text of the chapter and improves their understanding
    • Interactive writing style—Speaks to students clearly, with a touch of humor. Holds students' interest and allows the authors to 'connect' with readers.
  • Real-Life Connections- Connections to real-life events help students make connections to the material they learn and their future .
    • Practical, applicable content such as a sample resume, and curriculum vita - Focuses on the real job market, gaining admission to graduate school, and general tips for improving employability.
    • Sample letters- Sample letters for recommendation are included for those applying for jobs as well as those applying for graduate school.
    • 'Success Stories' narratives in almost every chapter- Adds personal perspectives of well-respected and knowledgeable faculty members around the country
    • Updated statistical data- Supplies students with current information about jobs, salary, employment rates, etc.
  • In addition to learning strategies, the text includes:
    • Coverage of ethics for undergraduate students
    • Sections on self-reflection
    • Overview of disciplines related to psychology.
  • Get Connected with MySearchLab: Provided with this text, MySearchLab provides engaging experiences that personalize, stimulate, and measure student learning. Pearson’s MyLabs deliver proven results from a trusted partner in helping students succeed.Features available with this text include:
    •   A complete eText—just like the printed text, you can highlight and add notes, listen to audio files, and more!
    • Assessment—chapter quizzes, topic-specific assessment and flashcards offer and report directly to your grade book.
    • Chapter-specific learning applications—ranging from videos to case studies, and more.
    • Writing and Research Assistance—a wide range of writing, grammar and research topics including access to a variety of databases that contain academic journals, census data, Associated Press newsfeeds, and discipline specific readings.

New to this Edition

Overview of Changes

  • All pertinent statistics have been updated to reflect the most current data.
  • New end-of-chapter exercises are included for several chapters.
  • Chapter topics updated throughout.

Table of Contents

In this Section:
1. Brief Table of Contents

2. Full Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Why College?

Chapter 2: Why Psychology?

Chapter 3: Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Chapter 4: Pursuing Bachelor’s-Level Options

Chapter 5: Career Options with a Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree

Chapter 6: The Graduate Admissions Process

Chapter 7: Research and Teaching Assistantships

Chapter 8: Getting Involved: Internships and Organizations

Chapter 9: Sharpening Library and Research Skills

Chapter 10: An APA Format Primer

Chapter 11: Doing Well in Psychology Classes: Study Tips

Chapter 12: Ethical Issues for Psychology Majors

Chapter 13: Psychology and Other Options: Nurturing Your Career


Chapter 1: Why College?

Who Goes to College

Public Expectations Concerning College

Student Expectations about Going to College

Desirable Skills and Abilities

The Covert Curriculum

The Civic, Liberal Arts Value of a College Education

The Financial Value of a College Education

Oh, You Didn’t Have to Go to College...

Chapter 2: Why Psychology?

Thoughts about the Psychology Major

Areas of Specialization within Psychology

Who Majors in Psychology

Desirable Skills and Abilities for the Psychology Major

The Importance of Advising and Mentoring

Why the Psychology Major is a Good Choice

Chapter 3: Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

The Undergraduate Curriculum

What Employers Want, and What They Pay

Careers with a Bachelor’s Degree

Career Options, Job Descriptions, and the Amazing O*NET

What about the Associate’s Degree?

Becoming a Freshman Again

Chapter 4: Pursuing Bachelor’s-Level Options

The Complexity of Finding a Job

Preparing Your Resume, with Samples

Letters of Recommendation, with a Sample

Interview Skills, Questions, and Knockout Factors

What If You Are Not Initially Successful in Your Job Search?

Chapter 5: Career Options with a Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree

Why Graduate Training?

Types of Graduate Training and Graduate Degrees

Sample Job Descriptions, Work Locations of Graduate Degree Recipients

Occupational Opportunities with the Master’s Degree

Occupational Opportunities with a Doctoral Degree

What Is a Postdoc?

Chapter 6: The Graduate Admissions Process

The Popularity and Competitiveness of Graduate Admissions

Overview: The Application Process

Primary and Secondary Selection Criteria, with Caveats

Grades, Transcripts, and the GRE

Letters of Recommendation, with Faculty Examples

The Personal Statement, with Student Examples

Research Experience, and Match and Fit with Your Program of Interest

Strategies to Consider If You Do Not Get In

Chapter 7: Research and Teaching Assistantships

What is a Research Assistantship?

Presenting Research at Conferences

What is a Senior Thesis?

Becoming a Teaching Assistant

Chapter 8: Getting Involved: Internships and Organizations

Field Experiences and Internships

What Interns Do

Other Internship Opportunities

Organizational Involvement

The American Psychological Association

The Association for Psychological Science

Psi Chi

Regional Associations

Chapter 9: Sharpening Library and Research Skills

Generating Research Ideas

The Literature Review

The Special Role of References

Library Research Strategies


Journal Articles

The Internet

More Literature Search Strategies

Library Skills Psychology Majors Should Have

Chapter 10: An APA Format Primer

Writing Psychology Papers

The Parts: Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion

Grammar and Vocabulary

A Brief Note on Plagiarism

Sample Paper

Chapter 11: Doing Well in Psychology Classes: Study Tips

General Study Tips

Developing Effective Study Habits

Improving Your Reading

Getting more Out of Lectures

Improving Test-Taking Strategies

Math Anxiety

Behaviors to Avoid

Chapter 12: Ethical Issues for Psychology Majors

The Ethics of Being a Student

The Ethics of Research

The Development and Use of APA Ethical Principles

The Role of Informed Consent and the Institutional Review Board

Chapter 13: Psychology and Other Options: Nurturing Your Career

The Psychology Major, Revisited

Diversity in Psychology

Other Related Options

Self-Reflection, Self-Assessment, and Career Development

More Resources


Dr. R. Eric Landrum received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology with an emphasis in Quantitative Methodology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1989, and joined the Boise State University Psychology Department in 1992. He served as Chair of the Psychology Department from 1996-2000. For the 2005-2006 academic year, he served as the Interim Chair of the Psychology Department. The general trend underlying Dr. Landrum's research centers on college student success. How can we best create a teaching and learning environment that allows students to achieve their academic goals? Much of this work involves the development of survey and questionnaire instruments to measure behavioral outcomes--involving good theoretical design of instruments, establishment of validity and reliability, and other measurement operations.

Stephen F. Davis is Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Currently he is Visiting Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Texas Wesleyan University and Distinguished Guest Professor at Morningside College. In 2002—2003 he was the Knapp Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Southern Methodist University and his PhD in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University. In 2007 he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Morningside College. His research, which always includes student assistants, has investigated such diverse topics as academic dishonesty, learning versus grade orientation of students, Type A personality, the Impostor Phenomenon, and the behavioral effects of ingesting toxic metals. He is the author of more than 300 journal articles, 31 books, and more than 900 convention presentations.

Reader Review(s)

 “Excellent and concise reviews of the relevant history of Learning Theory.  Incorporation of contemporary evolutionary psychology theory into the author's explanations and conceptualizations of human and animal learning and behavior. Applied chapters (such as the final chapter) that draw together the theories into real world examples.”

  -  James Crosby, Sam Houston State University


“Accessible, clear writing style. Solid research foundation. Many and relevant examples to real world applications. Nicely organized and follows the logicla progression of coverage typical for my course - from history of the field to current applications.”

  - Margherita Rossi, Broome Community College


“Very well written and organized in simple, easy to understand language which will not bore students. Text includes nice examples and inclusion of studies and discussion of concepts relating to humans. Author did an excellent job connecting each chapter the prior material and the overall theme- adaptive learning”

- David Rentler, University of the Rockies