Psychology Degree Concentrations: 5 Examples to Consider

over-the-shoulder perspective of a psychologist writing in a notebook in their lap while a person in the background sits in a chair with their chin in their hand
Category: Value of Education

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

The popularity of psychology degrees has remained steady in recent years. For aspiring psychologists, bachelor’s degrees are important steps in their academic journey, as they typically continue studying in graduate programs. For others, a bachelor’s degree in psychology can be worth it on its own and help graduates advance in other related careers.

In many cases, psychology degree programs include concentrations that help students focus their studies toward specific career fields, whether they’re on the path to becoming a psychologist or otherwise.

In this article, we outline five types of psychology degree concentrations, using examples from our bachelor’s degree programs here at Columbia Southern University.

1. Criminal Justice

Psychology is becoming increasingly essential in the criminal justice field. A criminal justice degree concentration involves a particular focus on criminology and the theories that inform the U.S. criminal justice system. Students grapple with the theoretical reasons for crime, its psychological impact on victims, and the psychology and motivations of criminal justice professionals.

This popular concentration teaches students to develop a functional understanding of the justice system and learn which psychological, emotional and societal factors influence people to commit crimes.

Classes in a criminal justice concentration may include:

  • Criminology
  • Mental Illness and Crime
  • Victimology

Related: Criminal Justice Degree Programs: What to Expect

2. Diversity and Inclusion

As the phrase “diversity, equity and inclusion” continues to grow in usage and become a part of our common language, it’s no surprise that businesses are increasingly hiring DEI experts and universities are launching DEI degree programs.

Psychology degree programs with a concentration in diversity, equity and inclusion are focused on the experiences and difficulties faced by people who are marginalized based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or socioeconomic background. These programs aim to provide insight into how to address the issues of bias, marginalization and discrimination in professional, educational and social settings.

A degree concentration focused on diversity and inclusion may include classes such as:

  • Diversity and Cultural Inclusion
  • Psychology of Gender
  • Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination

3. Forensics

Forensic psychologists work in the criminal justice field, with a particular focus on assessments and research into the mental state of criminals, victims, witnesses and others involved in the criminal justice system. Studying forensic psychology gives students the skills necessary to assess an individual’s mental state and motivations based on interviews, crime scene investigations and other factors.

Lawyers, law enforcement professionals, courts and other entities in the criminal justice system rely on forensic psychology to assess the state, credibility and mental fitness of criminals, victims or others.

Forensic psychology degree programs include classes such as:

  • Introduction to Forensic Investigation
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Pathology of Death

Related: Forensic Science Myths and the “CSI Effect”

4. Industrial/Organizational

Also called I/O psychology, this degree concentration involves applying psychological principles and science to the structure, productivity and outcomes of a workplace or organization. Focusing on the interactions between people and organizational patterns and decisions, I/O psychologists work to uncover the ways personal, emotional and social behavior affects the success or failure of an organization.

I/O psychologists can be focused externally as well, helping companies understand consumer behavior, public relations and ethics. More than some other concentrations, I/O psychology also focuses a great deal on group dynamics and interactions, exploring organizations as large groups, a set of subgroups, and the relations between them. The day-to-day work of I/O psychologists is often strongly intertwined with occupational safety and health, as well as human resources.

Classes in an industrial/organizational psychology concentration may include:

  • Human Relations and Development
  • Negotiation/Conflict Resolution
  • Team Building and Leadership

5. Mental Health

Possibly the best-known psychological discipline, a mental health concentration provides students a foundation in the identification, assessment and treatment of mental health issues. Students explore the history and theoretical basis of psychology as it relates to mental health, learn how to use statistics and academic research, and study real-world situations in which examples of common mental health issues unfold.

Because one in five adults struggle with mental health issues, this discipline touches everyone’s life in some way. Studying the many situations and dynamics that create these mental health issues is an essential part of psychology.

Psychology degree programs focused on mental health include classes such as:

  • Close Relationships
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Health Psychology

Getting Started at CSU

Here at Columbia Southern University, our psychology degree concentrations enable our students to customize their studies with a specific focus on their career path. The exposure to focused research, interaction with subject matter experts, and intimate knowledge of the field and the psychological principles at play provide a foundation for success.

For more information about all our online degree programs and concentrations, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

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