The answer to this question is absolutely yes. It is not only OK, but it is commonly done at schools across the county and online graduate programs as well. When a student earns their bachelor’s degree, they typically are in their early 20s. Most people are not sure what really interests them at that age, yet they have to declare a major.
In fact, often people begin working after college and decide that there is another area they would like pursue a career in. They apply to graduate school years after earning their four year degree and earn a master’s degree in a completely different academic area.
Colleges are motivated to accept graduate students from different academic backgrounds
Universities welcome many students into graduate programs in a subject that is different from their major. It is not just psychology. This creates a great deal of diversity in a graduate program and diversity is always welcome at the university level. Having a student earn a master’s degree in psychology after first earning a bachelor’s degree in a field such as political science, anthropology or marketing often brings fresh insight into the subject of psychology.
Isn’t a non-psychology student hopelessly behind those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?
Typically, a student is a little behind but not as much as you might think. When you get a four-year degree, half of the courses are general and form the foundation of a college education for every student. Other classes are required for a major in a particular field but are not specific to the field. An example for psychology would be statistics. Still other classes are electives that may form a minor in a field but may not be specific to psychology. This leaves approximately a full semester of core classes that form a major in the subject of psychology.
What does this mean for a non-psychology major
If you have a degree in a subject other than psychology, there will be certain classes that will need to be taken that lay a foundation for graduate studies. Certainly, already having a minor in psychology will be an advantage. Depending upon how closely related your major is to psychology, there may only be five or six classes that will need to be taken. At worst, you may be taking the equivalent of a full-time semester of courses to help lay the foundation needed to earn a master’s degree or doctorate in psychology.
How to know what courses need to be taken
This is dependent upon each college’s graduate program, but your transcript and application will be analyzed to determine how your specific graduate program will be constructed. Unlike a four-year degree, graduate programs are adapted to the student to make sure they are given the proper instruction to earn a master’s degree.