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Studying Psychology at QCC

QCC does not have a program that leads to a degree or certificate in Psychology, although we do offer a wide range of courses in psychology (24 courses at present, although not all courses are offered every semester). 

For students who are interested in exploring the field of psychology, we have both a general introductory course (PSY 101: Introduction to Psychology), as well as courses exploring a variety of subfields (social psychology, interpersonal relations, counseling, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and so on).  Please refer to the course listings for additional information.  Many students will take one or more of these courses as part of their requirements for degrees in other departments, including many programs in the Health Fields, Human Services, and Liberal Arts.

QCC can provide a strong foundation for transfer for students who are interested in pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.  Students seeking admittance to a liberal arts college as a psychology major may be best served by the QCC Liberal Arts program, or the General Studies program.  Other students transferring to 4-year institutions with less specific requirements regarding breadth of study outside of the major may find that General Studies provides a convenient way to customize course selection.  Other students who are interested in pursuing careers in Human Services may find that program to be a better match.  If you are interested in studying psychology, but are uncertain about what program here at QCC might be the best fit for you, please contact one of the faculty members in the psychology department or the relevant program coordinator (Liberal Arts; General Studies; Human Services).

What’s the ​difference between psychology and human services?

The fields of human services and psychology both include an interest in helping individuals cope with problems of living. However, there are a number of important differences between these two fields and in the education typically given to prepare students for working in these fields.

Psychology is a science focused on developing a thorough understanding of the human mind and behavior. This means that psychology emphasizes conducting research and developing theories that advance our knowledge of human behavior. Through advancing our understanding of the mind and behavior, psychological science has greatly contributed to the development of psychological therapies that can be tremendously helpful to individuals. However, it is important to note that psychology addresses many issues not directly linked to therapy or psychological problems. In fact, though many people believe that psychology was created to help people cope with psychological problems, this is not true. Psychology was actually founded by scientists interested in applying the methods of science to understand basic questions about how the human mind works. These early psychologists were much more interested in studying consciousness and perception than anxiety and depression. Over time, it became clear that what was learned about the human mind through science could be used to develop treatments for psychological disorders. This has given rise to subfields in psychology, such as clinical psychology and counseling psychology, which focus on providing help for various types of psychological problems. Yet, this is just one part of psychology today. Today there is much work being done by psychologists in many other subfields, such as cognitive psychology and social psychology that is not directly related to therapy or mental health. For instance, psychologists in these fields might study how our vision allows us to find a friend in a crowd, or where our political attitudes come from, or the way that information is stored in memory. 

When thin​king about studying psychology as an undergraduate there at least three important implications that follow from the nature of the field*.

  1. Undergraduate psychology programs tend to emphasize scientific thinking and an understanding of the scientific method.
  2. Undergraduate psychology programs typically require students to study a very broad range of human behavior extending far beyond topics in mental health and counseling.
  3. Undergraduate psychology programs typically are not solely aimed at preparing students to work in helping professions. Graduates of psychology programs often can find work in such professions even though preparing students to work in such professions was not the primary goal of the program. Graduates of psychology programs are also well prepared to enter graduate school in psychology. In graduate school, students can seek training in one of the helping focused subfields of psychology (i.e., clinical, counseling or school psychology) or in one of the many other subfields, such as developmental psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, or biological psychology.

*Note that these are broad generalizations that may not reflect the nature of majoring in psychology at some institutions. Students considering majoring in psychology should do their own research on the types of training offered at particular schools of interest.

Human services is an applied field aimed at meeting human needs through prevention and resolution of problems experienced by people. As an applied field, human services places less emphasis on research and theory than psychology does. Whereas psychology largely emphasizes the development of new knowledge, human services is committed to taking knowledge and putting it to use in the service of meeting human needs. Since psychology has generated information that can be useful in helping people to meet their needs, human services draws from relevant areas of psychology, but also draws from other disciplines, such as sociology. Thus, human services has a more specific goal than psychology, but draws from a broad range of knowledge, extending beyond psychology in seeking to meet this goal. Also, the range of ways that helping is accomplished within human services is broader than the type of help directly provided by psychologists. Both fields contain professionals who provide individual and group counseling. However, in human services there is an additional emphasis on developing and maintaining social service systems that provide for basic needs, such as food and shelter and in providing guidance on how individuals can access such services.

When thinking about studying human services as an undergraduate there at least three important implications that follow from the nature of the field.*

  1. Undergraduate human services programs tend to emphasize the development of skills and competencies useful in providing help and in working within human service systems.
  2. Undergraduate human services programs typically require students to complete significant coursework that will directly prepare them to help people meet their needs, but place less emphasis on coursework designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the human mind.
  3. Undergraduate human services programs, even at the certificate and associates degree levels are typically focused largely on preparing students to work in the helping professions. Such programs also typically provide a solid foundation for pursuing more advanced degrees in human services and can prepare students for more advanced study in psychology. However, a degree in human services is not typically the ideal preparation for advanced study in psychology and could lead to students needing to take additional courses.

*Note that these are broad generalizations that may not reflect the nature of majoring in human services at some institutions. Students considering majoring in human services should do their own research on the types of training offered at particular schools of interest. Learn more about human services programs offered at QCC.

Is human services or psychology right for me?

  • If you find behavior and the human mind fascinating, and are interested in using science to better understand people, then psychology may be the perfect fit for you.
  • If you know you want to help people, are interested in understanding human needs and finding strengths and resolutions for a broad range of individuals and groups dynamics, then the Human Services profession is a fit for you.

What kind of jobs do peo​ple in each of these fields have?

(Additional information will be added here over time - please check back!)