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What can you do with a degree in biopsychology?

I LOVE biopsychology. I don't want to go into research, but can I become a psychiatrist using this degree? #college #career #medicine #psychology #college-major #biology #career-choice #doctorate-degree

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Vera,

Can I Become a Psychiatrist with a Psychology Degree?

Although a bachelor's degree in psychology is a good choice for an aspiring psychiatrist, it doesn't prepare you to practice this medical specialty. In order to become a psychiatrist, you need to complete a medical degree program, as well as finish a 4- or 5-year residency in psychiatry.

While many medical schools require only three years of undergraduate education, most admitted students have completed at least a 4-year bachelor's degree program. You can choose any major, including psychology, but you must have completed prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology, physics and organic chemistry. Coursework in epidemiology, anthropology, statistics and ethics are also looked favorably upon by medical school admissions departments.

Your first two years of medical school will consist mostly of coursework focusing on the sciences and the systems of the human body. You'll take classes in anatomy, embryology, biochemistry, psychology and clinical medicine, among other areas. In your last two years of medical school, you'll receive more hands-on training with physicians in clinical settings. During your fourth year, you'll participate in elective rotations and explore areas such as pediatric neurology or gerontology. Many medical students interested in becoming psychiatrists also find a psychiatric mentor during their medical studies.

Psychiatry residency programs take four years to complete and require at least 36 months in psychiatry settings. Your first year is often known as an internship and will include significant medical training outside of your psychiatric specialty. You'll complete hospital rotations in general medicine, emergency medicine and neurology. During your remaining years, you'll focus exclusively on psychiatry and gain experience working with different types of patients, such as eating disorder, geriatric and schizophrenic patients. You'll have the opportunity to participate in research electives during your final year, allowing you to explore particular areas of interest.

Though not necessary, you may choose to further specialize in the field of psychiatry after completing your residency by entering a fellowship. Fellowship programs generally take one year to complete and allow you to focus on a more narrow aspect of psychiatry, such as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatrics, addiction, forensic psychiatry or research. A child and adolescent psychiatric subspecialty takes two years of training, but you may be able to begin your training after your third year of residency.

You'll need to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to practice medicine in the U.S. ( This is a 3-step exam, and you'll typically complete the first two steps while still in medical school. The third and final step is usually taken during your first or second year of residency.

You can choose to become board certified in psychiatry after completing your residency. You can also earn sub-specialty certification if you choose to complete a fellowship. Board certification requires a commitment to lifelong learning and you'll be required to demonstrate cognitive and practical expertise in your specialty throughout your career.

Careers in Biological Psychology:

Biological psychology is also referred to as biopsychology, behavioral neuroscience or psychobiology. It is a field of psychology that examines the connection between biological processes and behavior. Specifically, biological psychology involves studying the way the nervous system and brain are affected by physiological processes and changes, and focuses on the way these interactions influence human behavior, according to the University of Michigan-Flint. A career in biological psychology may provide you with the opportunity to conduct research, teach and counsel patients. Many biological psychologists also choose to specialize in sub-fields, such as neuropsychology.

Researchers in biological psychology conduct experiments and perform hands-on research to learn about the way the brain works under certain conditions and influences. They may focus on areas such as sensory perception, cognition, mental health disorders, sleep, nutrition or addictions. While researchers usually need to have a doctoral degree in psychology, you may be able to obtain a position as a research assistant with a bachelor's or master's degree in certain cases. Biological psychology researchers work in a variety of settings, including research institutes, universities, hospitals and medical centers.

Many biological psychologists opt for careers in academia, teaching courses in biological psychology or related fields to college and university students. College-level teaching may allow you to combine different activities, such as research or writing, as most universities encourage their faculty members to pursue these avenues. In addition to teaching courses, professors of biological psychology may supervise students in practical settings, manage research projects or give lectures to the public and other professionals.

It's not typical, but biological psychologists may also choose clinical careers providing counseling and psychotherapy. Many biological psychologists who choose this path focus on treating patients who suffer from psychological disorders believed to have biological roots. They may also provide assessments and evaluations, conduct clinical interviews, take case histories, perform mental status examinations and administer psychological tests to patients suffering from brain disorders. Biological psychologists who become clinicians may work in private or group practice, mental health clinics, universities and hospitals.


Have a good choice!! Best of luck!!