You will admit, psychological thrillers make for the most interesting genre whether to read or watch. There’s no doubt that the human mind while being among the most complex organs, is also the most intriguing. Unraveling its secrets, understanding its complexes, finding that fine line between sanity and insanity is a project that can consume a lifetime and then some. While the world around us modifies rapidly, the human mind too continues to evolve in response to stimuli. Studying it is both a satisfying and humbling experience. Whether you are someone who likes to reach out to other human beings or someone who wants to understand themselves better, studying psychology can be the answer to many of your quandaries. A major in psychology is not only gratifying in itself but can also open doors for several other lucrative careers for you. As a psychologist, you will study the human mind and behavior and learn to analyze how human beings behave, how they think, how they feel, how they communicate and express their emotions. Here’s looking at the essentials you need to be aware of before taking the plunge.

Which colleges can I apply to?

There are many, many great colleges you can choose from, not just in
USA, but also in the UK, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and Canada. Psychology is a popular major and many universities offer stellar courses in the subject. If you are looking at the US, there are several other great options. Apart from the popular choices – Stanford, Columbia, and Princeton, you should also consider University of California, LA (UCLA), University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Duke, New York University (NYU), University of Chicago, Northwestern, University of Virginia (UVA), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC), and Carnegie Mellon (CMU). Liberal Arts Colleges like Carleton, Reed, Grinnel and F&M are also good options to explore among several others.

In Canada, University of British Columbia (UBC) is a stellar choice as are University of Toronto and McGill University – all very popular with foreign students.

Outside of the US and Canada, you can consider the London School of Economics, which has an excellent psychology major. If you don’t mind gloomy weather, are a Rowling fan and feel the tug of the Scottish Highlands, you can consider the University of Edinburgh too.

Among some non-conventional choices for Indian students in Europe are KU Leuven in Belgium and Humbolt University of Berlin if you are feeling particularly adventurous. The universities of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia also present themselves as great options.

The National University of Singapore should certainly be on your list of options. We can list at least a hundred other options for you but can’t, due to space constraints. Here’s your cue to Google it!

 What Courses can I take?

Psychology is as vast and varied as the human mind. Looking at the subject in its entirety can be a little overwhelming considering the various areas it covers and the academic depths it explores. It would probably be a better idea to get your bearings first before wading into this expansive field. Consider personal preferences and have at least some notion of what your future aspirations are before taking your pick. UChicago, well known for its research initiatives, offers some very interesting courses in psychology; consider these: Bright and Dark Side of Empathy, Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Morality, Social Neuroscience and Child Development in the Classroom. Each of these relates to a different branch of psychology and can put you on very different career paths. UNC-Chapel Hill has various opportunities for undergrad research and will give you an excellent taste of a future in academia. Besides, it has fascinating courses that bear immense social and practical relevance, such as Drug Addiction, Fact & Fiction, Health Psychology and Families and Children. If you are keen to explore options closer home, NUS beckons with some relevant courses. Apart from Abnormal Psychology (which is offered in nearly all colleges) you can look at studying upcoming areas such as Industrial and Organizational Psychology, or consider Trauma Psychology or Paediatric Psychology, or even the Psychology of Ageing. As you can well deduce there is a separate branch for every human developmental stage from infancy to old age, then there are individual, group, industrial or even social mindsets that you can study besides looking at abnormal psychology that explores the dark crevices of the mind where ailments such as neurosis, psychosis, schizophrenia and manic depression lurk. You can also look at providing therapy to school-going children through child development and adolescent psychology. With a wide range of options to choose from you will have to delve deep into your own mind to find what you really want!

 Where can I work? As what?

As a psychology graduate, you will have expertise in understanding the human mind and behavior. You can use this to not only understand and control your own emotions and responses better but also turn it into a lucrative career either as a psychologist, an academician who focuses on research or use it as a tool to advance your prospects in other fields. Be warned, however, nearly all careers, while rewarding entail further study – completing a master’s degree and often even a Ph.D. and in many cases enough internship experience before you can strike out on your own. Among the most apparent career choices, of course, are those of school/career counselors, clinical psychologist, and human resource personnel. You can be employed in schools, hospitals, clinics, and large corporates. Another career option is that of a marriage or family therapist. For those who are lured by crime and punishment, working as a forensic psychologist can be as exciting as it sounds. Your job would be to figure out whether or not an accused is sane or not, if there are behavioral abnormalities then what the possible treatments are, whether a witness in a legal case is credible or not, etc. Forensic psychologists usually work with the police or maybe employed by lawyers or investigators. Given the rising number of sporting opportunities in and beyond cricket in India and abroad, you could also make an exciting, glamorous and lucrative career for yourself as a sports psychologist. Sports psychologists focus on the mental health of athletes and are usually employed by sports teams and are a part of the team entourages much as a physical therapist is. They also provide counseling to sportspersons during stressful periods, career shifts, etc. Another upcoming opportunity is that of an industrial or organizational psychologist or an I-O psychologist. They are employed by corporates or large organizations to provide psychological support and counseling in the workplace. I-O psychologists not only work to keep a stable and productive work environment but are also trained to match employee suitability to roles and resolve employee-related issues in the workplace.

So if this sounds like something you would like to pursue, go ahead and explore the options suggested and live the life of the mind.