Applied Psychology and Psychological Science Specializations

A brief overview of the two specializations

The Applied Psychology specialization was designed for students who want to use their psychology degree to help people in some way—perhaps by providing mental health services, or by working with people in business settings. This specialization focuses on applications of psychological principles to real-world situations and provides students with opportunities to develop their skills in varied types of interpersonal settings. When people ask you why you entered the field of psychology, if you say “to help people live better lives!”, then this might be the right specialization for you.

The Psychological Science specialization was designed for students who want to explore their interests and deepen their understanding in two or more of the major areas of psychology (developmental, abnormal, social, learning and cognition, and biopsychology). This specialization offers advanced courses that highlight central topics in these areas, allowing students to develop expertise in the areas of psychology that are of greatest interest to them. When people ask you why you entered the field of psychology, if you say “to learn what makes people tick!”, then this might be the right specialization for you.

How do I know which specialization I should choose?

Great question! During your time as a psychology major at IUP, you will have many experiences that will help you to make this decision. You will learn more about the two specializations in your introductory PSYC 100 course. You will have conversations about this with your faculty advisor and with other professors. You will have experiences inside and outside the classroom that will help you to discover and clarify your interests. As those experiences unfold, here is some information to keep in mind about the two specializations:

They do have similarities. For one thing, both require the same number of courses and credits. More importantly, both were designed to offer depth in learning about psychology (they just offer that depth in different ways). Even more importantly, both help to prepare students for multiple paths after graduation, whether they plan to enter the job market right away or pursue additional education with an advanced degree.

They also have important differences, as described above. Review the courses that form each specialization (these appear in the sections below) and consider two questions:

  1. Which set of courses would be most useful to you in the career path you plan to pursue?
  2. Which set of courses would you most enjoy taking? 

Thinking over the answers to these questions will help you to have a productive discussion with your faculty advisor about which specialization to choose.

Applied Psychology

  1. Introduction to Applied Psychology
  2. Counseling Skills or Industrial-Organizational Psychology
  3. Practicum/Internship
  4. Psychology elective on an applied topic
  5. Psychology elective on an applied topic

Psychological Science

  1. Advanced Topics course
  2. Advanced Topics course
  3. Psychology elective (open area)
  4. Psychology elective (open area)
  5. Psychology elective (open area)*

*For students who choose the Psychological Science specialization and would also like to complete a practicum/internship, please note that the practicum/internship is an option for fulfilling one of the electives.