University psychology departments across the country are full of intelligent students interested in cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, and other scientific studies regarding the human mind. Some students may even take an interest in animal psychology. Regardless of which branch of psychology students choose, they will spend their time gaining an understanding of brain function, social behavior, mental processes, varying mental disorders, mental health problems and more.
The Right Minor for You
It isn’t just your major that can help you land employment after graduation. What you minor in is also important. In fact, your minor can also help you get into grad school – and be more successful in your studies, too.
If you’re majoring in psychology and want to add a minor, you might think about one of these 12 excellent options.
- Human Development
- Criminal Justice
- Business/ Marketing
- Data Science
- Gender Studies
- World Languages
- Public Health
Sociology and psychology often ask similar questions. A sociology minor could leave you less “well-rounded” than some other possibilities, but it could also deepen your understanding of human behavior beyond what a psychology major alone would permit.
For example, while psychology seeks to understand individual human behavior, sociology takes a broader view to see how society can influence people to behave in the way they do. Through behavioral research, a sociology minor may begin to understand social behavior and the mental processes that occur in individuals. They may also begin to understand why and how person’s characteristics interact.
Minoring in sociology is a good option to consider if you want to go down a more research-oriented path. With your psychological and sociological background, you will have two different ways of asking research questions and studying research subjects that could help you answer the next big question about human behavior.
An English minor will hone your writing and critical reading skills. While English is not a psychological study, it will improve your cognitive abilities making you more qualified within the basic components of the profession. Graduate students must write extensively, and they will continue to do so after they have earned their degrees. English courses will give you practice at putting your thoughts onto paper and turn you into a clear, confident writer. That way, you won’t have to worry about your writing later, and you can instead focus more on your actual research.
Even if you don’t plan on going to graduate school, having strong written communication skills will only help you. No matter what career field you enter, you will need to have effective written and verbal communication skills. A minor in English will help you develop both.
Think about therapists and psychologists that meet with clients. These workers must be able to communicate effectively with their clients. They must be good speakers, excellent listeners, and have the ability to take a lot of notes very quickly. Again, a minor in English will help you develop these all-important skills.
If you intend to conduct psychological research or are interested in clinical psychology, the skills you learn in a biology minor will prove to be invaluable. Though psychological research courses give you all the tools you need to conduct research, it doesn’t hurt to have additional science courses that you can rely on for things like experimental design.
What’s more, biological psychology is a hot career. Though you would need more than a minor in biology to pursue a degree in biological psychology, you have to start somewhere! A minor in biology is a great place to begin.
Math is another good choice for those who want to pursue an advanced degree. You don’t need to be a brilliant mathematician to succeed as a psychologist, but a solid grounding in math is essential to many kinds of psychological research and cognitive science.
If you go this route, consider focusing on statistics in particular. You will be using statistics in graduate school, and your older self may thank you for getting a head start in understanding important statistical concepts.
At many schools, courses specifically in psychological statistics are required to get an undergraduate degree in psychology. Generally, only two statistics courses are needed, though. This is why a minor in math or statistics is such a good idea. You will gain additional knowledge and skills related to a topic that will help you be a more competent grad student and researcher.
Human Development Minor
Human development and psychology go hand in hand. This is especially true if you choose a career in developmental psychology. When you understand human development or child development, you can gain a better understanding of internal mental processes and how they can lead to varying mental health issues or mental illness.
But even if you pursue work in other fields of psychology, a minor in human development will give you a more well-rounded understanding of how humans learn and grow as they do.
This type of added knowledge could be helpful if you work in early childhood education. For example, you might work with preschool teachers to help them create developmentally-appropriate lesson plans.
A minor in human development would also be beneficial to you if you go into private practice. For example, if you specialize in family therapy, you could draw on your expertise in human development or developmental psychology to help new parents understand why and how their newborn will undergo the process of mental and physical development.
Criminal Justice Minor
Forensic psychologists do many different things in a criminal justice setting. They might interview victims of crimes. They often conduct psychological testing on the accused. They might develop a profile of a criminal for police. They also help prepare witnesses and experts for providing courtroom testimony.
Being effective at these types of job duties requires a solid background in psychology. But having a criminal justice minor will be of great help, too. You need to be familiar with criminal procedure, rules of evidence, and so forth, in order to carry out your job to the best of your ability.
Your psychology classes will provide a good understanding of human behavior—a tremendous asset for employers—and a good minor can supplement this with other skills. A minor in business or marketing is a solid choice for students majoring in psychology.
While these minors won’t do much for you if you decide to go to graduate school, they will certainly help you if you join the business world after college.
As much as we might hate to think of it this way, psychologists in private practice are running a business. This means that you need to understand the fundamentals of developing and sustaining a business model over a long period of time. It also means you need to understand how to reach your target market, advertise your services, and get a steady stream of clients coming through your door.
But not everyone wants to be in private practice. And that’s okay! A minor in business or marketing is great preparation if you’re thinking about another career, like in advertising. Psychologists often work for advertising agencies as consultants. They can provide insights into the psychology of things like brand marketing and product design that will help advertisers make their products more appealing.
A business-related minor will also make you an excellent candidate to work in human resources or sales. Look at any small or large company and you’ll find a human resources worker with a background in psychology. This type of career is perfect for someone with a minor in business because you’ll have the knowledge of human behavior for managing personnel and the knowledge of business to make sound decisions for the company.
Data Science Minor
A minor in data science will be helpful for psychology majors in a variety of ways.
For starters, developing a better understanding of data science could help you as you take advanced courses in psychological research. Since data science is all about examining questions that need answers and then finding the data to answer those questions, it only makes sense that a psychological researcher could benefit from minoring in this field.
From a career standpoint, having some training in data science could be beneficial for a variety of psychology jobs. If you want to work in organizational-industrial psychology, systems psychology, or even political psychology, knowing how to conduct research and analyze data will be a huge help.
Data science courses also teach you how to use the data you glean to take actionable steps toward a specific goal. Again, this could be used by psychologists in many different fields.
For example, a psychologist in private practice could use data science to help them identify insights from client data to develop an improved treatment plan for each client.
As another example, a human factors psychologist could use data from research to determine the ideal shape, size, color, and placement of controls in the cockpit of an airliner.
Gender Studies Minor
A minor in gender studies will come in handy for any psychologist, but particularly those in private practice. This is because it’s important for psychologists to be able to empathize with people. By studying gender issues, sexuality, and related issues like health and politics, psychologists will be better prepared to deliver appropriate care to their clients.
This is also a good minor for psychologists that want to work within the educational system. People that work with children should have the tools to provide support to students that are experiencing difficulties related to gender. This might take the form of a female student facing inequalities on the sports field. It could also pertain to working with a student that is working through gender identity issues.
Whatever the case, gender studies can be an eye-opening experience that will help you see the world through a different lens and provide improved services to those in need.
World Languages Minor
Not sure what you want to do after graduation? Knowing another language is valuable for almost anyone. Although taking a minor in a language may seem less directly beneficial than other options, it has the advantage of offering more flexibility.
For example, as a researcher, being able to read a world language means you have access to information that hasn’t yet been published in English. Likewise, knowing a second language could make communicating with research participants much easier.
As another example, a therapist who speaks multiple languages can serve more people. Rather than worrying about understanding clients who do not speak English, you can work with clients that speak another language much more comfortably.
A multilingual psychology major who enters the business world will be prepared for the demands of the global economy as well. You can speak directly to co-workers or customers from around the globe. You could also serve as an interpreter for a client or customer if need be. With the increasing globalization of the economy, businesses want (and need) workers that offer world language skills – and they are willing to pay for it too!
If you intend to use your psychological training in the education field, it makes sense to minor in education.
There are many education-related psychology jobs you might consider. School psychology, educational psychology, vocational rehabilitation, and guidance counseling are just a few options that blend psychology and education training.
A minor in education will give you insights into many aspects of the educational system. You can learn about the history of education, instructional design, and crisis intervention, among many other important topics.
And while a minor in education won’t qualify you to be a K-12 teacher, you could use your experiences as a psychologist in the education field to become a college teacher at some point.
Public Health Minor
Some psychologists want to pursue a career in public health, so a minor in this field is appropriate.
In the public health setting, you might conduct research on vulnerable groups, such as the mentally ill. You might also devise public health initiatives to improve mental health services to certain populations, like veterans or the elderly.
These kinds of tasks are much easier if you have experience in both psychology and public health. On the one hand, psychological expertise is necessary in order to develop services that assist those in need. On the other hand, understanding public health policy, state and federal regulations, and even grassroots organizing will help you carry out your plans and provide assistance to the populations that need it.
When Choosing a Minor as a Psychology Major
Remember, these are all great options for minors to accompany your psychology major. It is not a complete list, but the minors listed above can get you thinking about what factors to consider when choosing a minor. While they may not all seem connected to psychology or mental health at first glance, they are all connected in some way.
Finally, don’t think that picking a minor forces you into an unalterable path. Although some minors are a bit better suited than others to particular careers, success in your major is ultimately far more important than your choice of a minor.