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What is Psychology?

If you are an international student who is interested in explaining the human mind and human behavior, or if you like helping those who have mental health problems, then psychology could be the field of study for you. Psychology offers many research and career opportunities for aspiring students. Nearly every university in the U.S. offers courses in psychology, so international students will have a many great options in selecting their university of choice.

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the connections between the mind and behavior. It seeks to provide answers to the questions such as: why do people behave the way they do? What makes people happy or unhappy? What are the relationships between the mind and the brain?

Many international students might wonder: why study psychology? Besides providing answers to many interesting questions, studying psychology can lead to exciting career opportunities. Let us take a closer look at the intriguing field of psychology.

Research Areas in Psychology

There is no way to answer the question "what is psychology?" without introducing the many interesting topics of interest within the field. Such exciting topics include learning and memory, sensation and perception, emotion and motivation, development and disorders, and many others. If there is an interesting question about human behavior to be asked, there is sure to be a body of research worthy of study. So, to answer: what is psychology? Psychology is the broad science of studying the mind that breaks up the particular functions and dysfunctions of the mind to study them more closely.

Experimental versus Clinical Psychology

International students should be aware that there are two different approaches to the study of psychology in the U.S. These two approaches are not wholly distinct but there are important differences. The first approach, experimental psychology, puts an emphasis on research and experimentation to discover facts about the human mind and behavior. Students who choose this track will be expected to understand the basic scientific method in order to carry out controlled experiments and the use of statistics to interpret data. The second approach, clinical psychology, also attempts to understand human psychology but also aims to help people with their psychological well-being. Students who choose this track will still be expected to understand the mind but will also learn to interact with individuals in a way similar to how a doctor interacts with a patient. Professionals in this area of psychology sometimes administer counseling, therapy, and sometimes even prescription drugs. It is important for students to keep these two separate approaches in mind when they are deciding what their interests in psychology are.

Career Opportunities

One of the many answers to the question "why study psychology?" is that there are a great variety of career opportunities for those who do. Those who are most interested in questions about psychology for their own sake might want to be become researchers, teachers, or professors. Others who want to help people can become counselors, therapists, or staff at mental health facilities. There are other applications for those with psychology degrees, as well. For instance, forensic psychologists apply principles of psychology within the legal system and offer advice to judges, lawyers, and police officers. Industrial psychologists apply psychological principles to the workplace to understand how to maximize worker productivity and keep good relationships among co-workers. A good understanding of psychology is useful in many different arenas.

Education Opportunities

Psychology is a very popular area of study in the U.S., and nearly every university will offer a degree in psychology or at least some psychology courses. Students who take even one class in psychology often have no trouble answering the question: "why study psychology?" International students should look at their college or university website to determine if their particular interests are available on campus.

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