Which Psychology Courses Are the Best? A Roadmap through the School Year

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Which Psychology Courses Are the Best? A Roadmap through the School Year

With a new school year right around the corner, some students who are either psychology majors or students who are thinking about taking a psychology course for the first time may ask themselves: Which psychology courses are the best?

Of course, the answer to the abovementioned question is highly subjective; however, that said, it may be helpful heading in to the new school year with a roadmap to which psychology courses to load your schedule up with.

The “101” Stuff

Usually advanced high school seniors or college freshman take introduction psychology courses. Often times, these classes introduce basic concepts such as psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and cognitivism. These types of classes also introduce the founders of each individual school or movement within psychology. Most people have heard of Sigmund Freud, but there are other important—albeit obscure—names in the field such as Elizabeth Loftus, Philip Zimbardo, and Stanley Milgram who have made major contributions to the field.

Although many individuals who major in psychology may think of the 101 courses as basic, these types of courses remains important because 1) These courses introduce basic knowledge that students can build upon, and 2) these courses also contain interesting ideas that may inspire students to pursue psychology as a career.

The “Mid-Level” Stuff: Development and Social Psychology

After taking a few intro classes, if students choose psychology as a major in college, they will typically move beyond the basics. In psychology, this may be learning more about human development and social psychology. (Full disclosure: human development and social psychology are personal favorites of mine.) The latter area is highlight complex and difficult to summarize, but it entails group behavior. Some noteworthy examples in this area include learning about Zimbardo’s Prison Experiment or other important studies in the 1970s such as Stanley Milgram’s obedience to authority research.

The former area, human development, explores how humans develop and change, which may include biological development, moral development, and the various “stage theorists” such as Vygotsky, Piaget, and Erikson. Each of these psychologists has their own particular ideas, but, basically, they maintained that humans move through different stages at different times in their lives. Each stage brings with it different attributes, benefits, and challenges.

It’s fascinating stuff.

The Advanced Courses

By now, anyone who has made it this far is a psychology, education, social work, or counseling major. These types of classes usually include research and methods courses. Counseling majors, for instance, may take particular courses geared toward counseling methods and processes. Others, on the other hand, may take courses such as research and statistics . . . lots and lots of statistics . . . in order to fully understand how psychology is, indeed, a science and how certain ideas develop empirical validity. Students will see many of these courses move toward greater difficulty as they move from undergraduate to graduate levels.

Whichever courses you may choose, psychology is a large area of study that entails intriguing sub areas.

Kenny Luck
Kenny Luck
Kenny Luck is an author and educator from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Marywood University in Scranton, PA, Luck holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and graduated with a Master's Degree in Education from the same institution in 2010. He has written for local publications such as The Weekender. His published work includes: Thumbing Through Thoreau (2010), NEPATIZED (2011), and 101 Facts of Love (2014). Luck has worked in public relations and media, and has taught college-level writing courses at several colleges and universities around Northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2010, he was voted "Best Author" by Electric City readers.

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