Learn psychology with online courses and programs
What is psychology?
Psychology is a field of study that investigates the workings of the mind and behavior, examining how biological influences, social pressures, and environmental factors interact to shape our thoughts, emotions, and actions.Footnote 1 Psychology aims to provide insight into behaviors to help us better understand ourselves and those around us. With greater understanding of how our minds work, we can stimulate better decision-making, and build healthier relationships with each other and our environments.Footnote 2 This multifaceted discipline encompasses many different subfields, including cognitive science, neuroscience, social psychology, clinical psychology, and developmental psychology. Psychologists can use their knowledge to help diagnose and treat mental health disorders and relieve individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues.
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Online psychology course curriculum
For learners new to the subject, online psychology classes can offer a great introduction to the field. A psychology class can cover the fundamentals of behavior, emotions and personality, or take a deeper dive into specialized topics, such as:
Sensation and perception
Conditioning and learning
Cognition and intelligence
Motivation and emotion
A bachelor's degree or a master's degree program will provide more comprehensive instruction on psychology, touching on the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, historical trends, and empirical findings in the field so that students can understand how psychological principles can be applied to address behavioral issues. These programs may also include coursework on scientific inquiry and critical thinking, ethical and social responsibility, communication, and professional development.Footnote 3
A deep understanding of psychology can lead to a number of fulfilling careers rooted in helping others. You can put your education to work in any of the following roles:
Clinical psychologists: have highly specialized skills in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental, behavioral and emotional illnesses. They work with individuals, couples, families, and groups and are trained to use psychological assessments, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic techniques.Footnote 4
School psychologists: work in educational settings to assist children and students in managing emotional, academic, and social issues. They may also work with teachers, staff, and parents to create positive learning environments for students.
Social workers: provide a broad range of services to individuals, families, and communities in need. They may offer case management, counseling, advocacy or referrals around psychological, financial, health, relationship, and substance abuse problems.
Therapists: specialize in counseling and therapy for people with depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and substance abuse.
Human resource professionals: work with employers to hire, train, and retain employees. They are responsible for a variety of tasks including recruitment, selection, compensation, benefits, and employee relations.
Occupational therapists: help people who have physical, mental, or developmental disabilities to build skills for everyday living. They may use a variety of techniques to help patients improve their ability to perform daily tasks.
Marriage and family counselors: provide counseling to couples, families, and individuals. They can help with a variety of issues, including communication problems, marital conflict, and parenting skills.
Drug and alcohol treatment specialists: help individuals struggling with addiction by providing counseling and guidance on achieving sobriety. They may also offer referrals to rehabilitation centers and other resources.
Before choosing which educational path to take, remember that each of these roles will have different educational and licensing requirements to practice. It’s important to research those requirements in order to determine whether a specific course or program is the best fit for you.