Can You Switch to Psychology for Graduate School?

Wondering what her future may bring / Getty Images

Many students who have completed an undergraduate degree in a non-psychology field might find that they would like to switch to psychology for graduate school. Is this even possible? Let's take a look at things you might want to consider before switching to pursue psychology in grad school.

Why Some Students Might Opt to Switch to Psychology

Here's one common scenario from one of our readers:

"I'm 25 years old and I have an undergraduate degree in mass communications. While I have absolutely no experience in psychology, I'm finding more and more that it's something I have a real interest in. Right now, I think that I'd like to pursue my PhD in Psychology and start my future in this field. Obviously, I'm getting kind of a late start, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Does this sound prudent or realistic? Where do I begin and will I be able to enter a PhD program if I don't have a background in psychology?"

This is an excellent question and this reader's predicament is actually a lot more common than you might think. Not everyone figures out where their passions and interests lie during the busy undergraduate years, but it's really never too late to start. It really just depends on how much time, effort, and commitment you are willing to put into making the change.

Can You Switch to Psychology?

So can you switch to a graduate degree in psychology if your undergraduate degree is in a completely different field? Yes, but there are a few important things you need to consider.

  • First, you might need to take some additional courses in order to meet the prerequisites before applying to a graduate program.
  • Next, you need to be sure that you have completed any tests that are required for admissions to the program, which may include the GRE and the psychology subject test.

Before you fully commit to a graduate program, you might want to consider starting with a few prerequisite psychology courses.

This can not only get you up-to-speed on the subject-matter, but it will also help give you a better idea of whether you really want to continue your studies in psychology. 

Where to Begin

Start by looking at a few graduate programs that interest you. Contact each program to learn more about their admissions procedures and requirements.

Some of the most common prerequisites needed for admission to psychology graduate programs include:

In addition to taking these classes, you will most likely need to then take the GRE and psychology subject test before submitting your application for admission.

Finally, you should remember that getting a PhD in psychology is only one available option. You might also opt for a PsyD program, which typically focuses on professional practice while PhD programs center more on a combination of research and practice.

While clinical psychology is definitely the single largest employment area within psychology, there are a number of alternatives that will also allow you to work in the field. Health psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, forensic psychology. Next, learn more about some of your career options with a graduate degree in psychology. If you're still not sure what specific focus you'd like your psychology career to take, this quiz was made just for you.

The key thing to note here is that it is definitely possible, but it's going to take some real effort on your part. If psychology is your passion, then you should definitely spend some time looking at your options at figuring out how you can get started on the path toward your dream career.

Continue Reading