The major in Psychology requires a capstone experience, which provides students with challenging opportunities to apply their knowledge of psychology to research, teaching, or practice endeavors. Students can work with faculty in the classroom or their research labs, or study specific topics of the student's interest.

The Department of Psychology has also established an extensive internship program that gives students opportunities to apply their knowledge in a work setting in the local community. The Research Apprenticeship Program, Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship Program, and Internship Program are designed to give students practical experiences beyond their academic coursework.

Why Study Psychology?

The psychology field takes a scientific approach to understanding behavior and working with people (or animals) to facilitate behavioral changes. Students who major in Psychology learn about the research process, how to obtain empirical, scientific knowledge, and how to apply this knowledge to solve problems in real world situations.

Psychology provides a broad, liberal arts background that will be helpful in any career field in which one must work with people. Psychology students will develop a wide range of skills that are desired by employers in many industries, including communication, interpersonal, leadership, teamwork, and computer skills.

With a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, students are prepared for two general types of post-graduate opportunities. First, graduates may enter directly into the workforce in social service, business, government, and a variety of other settings. A second option is to pursue graduate study to prepare for a career that requires an advanced degree. These professional careers may involve counseling and psychotherapy, applications in school or business settings, college-level teaching, or advanced research positions. Students should research career fields to learn what type of degree (master's or doctoral) and subject area are most appropriate when considering whether graduate work will be necessary to meet individual career goals.

Related Majors


Related Skills

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Be sensitive to feelings of others
  • Critical thinker and good decision maker
  • Good work ethic
  • Strong team member
  • Ability to work independently
  • Problem solving skills
  • Have a good background in human behavior

Being Successful in the Field

Master's Degree

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Professional Counselor
  • Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
  • Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists

Doctoral Degree

  • Counseling Psychologist
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Experimental Psychologist
  • School Psychologist
  • Sport Psychologist
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologist

Related Fields

Human Services

Direct Care:

  • Counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Case Management
  • Mental Health Services
  • Physical Health and Wellness
  • Crisis Work
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy


  • Advocacy
  • Programming
  • Community Relations
  • Management
  • Development/Fund Raising
  • Grant Writing


  • Federal government, including Departments of Health andHuman Services, Justice, Veterans Administration, VA Hospitals
  • State government, including Departments of Human Services, Mental Health & Mental Retardation, Community mental health centers, State psychiatric hospitals, Facilities for mentally impaired, Justice, Probation and Parole
  • Local government
  • Senior citizens' centers
  • United Way agencies
  • Social service/nonprofit organizations
  • Religiously affiliated service organizations
  • Hospitals/healthcare providers
  • Private psychiatric facilities
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
  • College and university counseling centers
  • Private practice


  • Obtain essential practical experience through part-time or summer jobs such as camp counselor, tutor, or resident hall advisor. 
  • Complete an internship for academic credit. 
  • Gain experience through volunteering with organizations such as crisis hotlines, Big Brother or Sister,Special Olympics, service fraternities or sororities, etc. 
  • Many entry-level helping positions require one year of related experience. 
  • Volunteer experience and internships can typically fulfill this requirement. 
  • Learn to work well with different types of people. 
  • Develop strong communication skills. 
  • Cultivate the desire to help others. 
  • Become fluent in a foreign language to serve clients who may not speak English. 
  • Be willing to relocate for increased job opportunities. 
  • Become familiar with government hiring procedures. 
  • Acquire knowledge of government and community resources available for those in need. 
  • Obtain a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, or social work for positions involving substantive counseling or psychotherapy or for advancement into administrative/supervisory positions. 
  • Many specialties exist at the graduate level, for example school counseling, mental health counseling, counseling psychology,etc. 
  • Pursue particular degrees depending upon interests and career goals. 
  • Maintain an excellent academic record and seek experiences valued by graduate programs.


  • Social Research
  • Market Research
  • Data Analysis


  • Federal, state and local government agencies
  • National headquarters of non-profit organizations
  • Universities and colleges
  • Market research firms
  • Market research departments of consumer goods and manufacturing firms
  • Consulting firms


  • Work with a professor on his or her research project. 
  • Develop strong quantitative and statistical skills. 
  • Take additional math and statistics courses. 
  • Obtain a graduate degree for greater opportunities. 
  • Obtain related experience. Get a part-time or summer field service position with a market research firm. 
  • Get involved in the American Marketing Association. 
  • Earn a graduate degree in psychology, statistics or marketing for the greatest number of opportunities.


  • Teaching
  • Student Affairs
  • Administration
  • Training
  • Adult Learning


  • Public and private K-12 schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Community instruction offered by government or socialservice agencies, e.g. GED classes, life skills, parenting, etc.


  • Obtain a teaching certificate for public school positions. 
  • Multiple certifications will increase marketability.
  • Seek guidance from the education department of your college. 
  • Earn a doctoral degree for post-secondary teaching. 
  • Secure strong personal recommendations. 
  • Volunteer or work as a tutor. 
  • Gain experience working with children or adolescents. 
  • Acquire related experience on campus as a resident hall advisor, orientation leader, admissions tour guide, or peer mentor. 
  • Develop strong communication skills and learn to speak well in front of a group.

Human Resources

  • Employment and Recruitment
  • Labor Relations
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Organizational Development
  • Training


  • Large companies
  • Government agencies
  • Staffing and employment services
  • Large non-profit organizations including hospitals and educational institutions


  • Gain relevant experience in human resources by completing an internship. 
  • Earn a minor in business or supplement curriculum with business courses. 
  • Seek leadership positions in student organizations. 
  • Develop strong computer skills.  Earn an MBA or a graduate degree in human resources to attain higher-level positions.

Business & Industry

  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Management
  • Insurance: Claims Management, Underwriting
  • Real Estate: Sales, Property Management
  • Public Relations


  • Service providers
  • Wholesalers
  • Manufacturers
  • Retail stores including:  Department stores, Specialty stores, Discount stores, Super retailers
  • Online retailers
  • Call centers
  • Financial institutions
  • Insurance companies
  • Real estate companies
  • Property management firms
  • Apartment complexes
  • Public relations departments of large businesses or nonprofit organizations


  • Develop career goals and seek relevant experiences to prepare for those goals. 
  • Earn a minor in business or supplement curriculum with business or communication courses.
  • Obtain relevant experience through internships or part-time jobs. 
  • Work a part-time or summer job in a retail store. 
  • Demonstrate a willingness to take on additional responsibilities such as "assistant manager." 
  • Participate in student organizations and seek leadership roles. 
  • Learn to work well with different types of people. 
  • Develop a strong commitment to customer satisfaction. 
  • For sales, develop the ability to work well under pressure and be comfortable in a competitive environment.
  • Be willing to start in a management-trainee program or other entry-level positions. 
  • When job searching, seek employers interested in hiring "any major." 
  • Understand the top skills employers desire and be prepared to demonstrate them, such as communication (oral and written), computer, interpersonal, leadership and teamwork, etc.

Other Professions

  • Advertising
  • Affirmative Action Officer
  • Career Counselor
  • Caseworker Child Development Specialist
  • Child Welfare Worker
  • Clergy
  • Clinical Manager
  • Community Relations Director
  • Correctional Officer
  • Criminologist
  • Customs Inspector
  • Day Care Center Supervisor
  • Day Treatment Clinician
  • Deaf & Hearing Impaired Service
  • Director, Counseling Center
  • Drug Abuse & Prevention Educator
  • Ethnic Organization & Service Director
  • Geriatric Case Manager
  • Grievance Officer
  • Health Educator
  • Hospice Health Worker
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Infant Mental Health Specialist
  • Intensive Family Therapist
  • Job Analyst
  • Juvenile Detention Center Advisor
  • Lawyer
  • Management Analyst
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Mental Health Worker
  • Minority & Race Relations Specialist
  • Motivational Researcher
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Police Officer
  • Populations Studies Researcher
  • Probation Officer
  • Professor
  • Recreation Worker
  • Recreational Professional
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Research Assistant
  • Services Director
  • Psychologist
  • Psychometrist
  • Rape Crisis Services
  • Suicide Prevention Services Specialist
  • Trauma Support Specialist
  • Youth Services Specialist

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Renee Carrigan  110 Student Services Building  rdcarig@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-2200 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Karen Mark  423 DeGarmo Hall  kimark@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8130 

New Freshmen

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

New Transfer

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA


Middle 50% GPA

2.84 - 3.52

Required Courses

Completion with grades of C or better in each of the following: (for students with 30 or more earned hours)

  • General Psychology—such as fundamentals of psychology (PSY 110) or introduction to psychology (PSY 111)
  • A mathematics courses approved for the psychology major— finite math (MAT 120), applied calculus (MAT 121), pre-calculus (MAT 144) or calculus I (MAT 145)
  • One transferable laboratory science course

Recommended Courses

  • A foreign language equivalent to Illinois State’s 112 level or higher
  • Intermediate-level composition (ENG 145)
  • Philosophy—such as basic issues in philosophy (PHI 101), the ideal of democracy (PHI 104), or language, logic, and mathematics (PHI 112)
  • Two laboratory sciences
  • Strongly encouraged (for students with less than 30 hours earned): a mathematics courses approved for the psychology major— finite math (MAT 120), applied calculus (MAT 121), pre-calculus (MAT 144) or calculus I (MAT 145)

Additional Information

Students with 75 earned hours or more are admitted on a limited, case-by-case basis.

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Molly Knapp  DeGarmo Hall 421  mjknapp1@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5293 

Illinois State Students

Middle 50% GPA

2.84 - 3.52

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

September 1 - September 30, February 1 - February 28, May 1 - July 31

Major Requirements

Students seeking admission to the major in Psychology who have completed 12-29 hours need to have:

  • At least 12 hours completed at Illinois State
  • Established an Illinois State grade point average of at least 3.0 or higher

Students seeking admission to the major in Psychology who have completed 30 hours or more, but less than 75 hours completed at the time the application is submitted, need to have:

  • An Illinois State grade point average of 2.5 or higher based on at least 12 hours completed at Illinois State
  • A grade of C or better in:
    • PSY 111 (or PSY 110 if taken prior to admission to the Major)
    • MAT 120, 121, 144, or 145
    • a laboratory science course
    • PSY 138
    • PSY 231

The Department of Psychology does not typically consider students with over 75 hours completed for admission.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Molly Knapp  DeGarmo Hall 421  mjknapp1@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5293