Psychology is the science of human experience, behavior and actions.

The field of study at a glance

Scientific psychology develops its knowledge from humanities, social sciences and natural sciences models of thought and research strategies. It is an empirical science, i.e. all statements are based on observations and experiments. The results are processed using mathematical and statistical methods.

Psychology has interdisciplinary features and overlaps with scientific areas such as life sciences, sociology, education, philosophy, linguistics, economics (especially marketing and experimental economic research) or computer science.

Psychology is divided into a number of sub-disciplines, including general psychology, differential psychology and personality psychology, biological psychology, developmental psychology and social psychology as basic subjects. Application subjects include clinical psychology and psychotherapy, work and organizational psychology and educational psychology. Some of these disciplines work in an interdisciplinary environment and cooperate, for example, with neuroscience, medicine, or even the social and economic sciences:

  • General Psychology deals with the basic functional forms of human experience and behavior (learning, memory, language, emotion, motivation, etc.).
  • In Differential Psychology/Personality Psychology, the focus is on individual and group-specific differences in the functional areas that are addressed in general psychology.
  • Developmental Psychology deals with age- or life-stage-dependent changes in behavior and experience. Their results are particularly important for educational and clinical psychology.
  • The subject of Social Psychology is the diverse conditions and effects on social behavior and interactions between individuals and groups.
  • In Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology, the mutual interdependence of psychological and physical processes (e.g. in the nervous system) is examined.

Course offered

Psychology is offered as a bachelor's and master's degree program under the name psychology, but can also be studied as a so-called hyphenated subject with a focus, for example business psychology or work and organizational psychology.

Contents of the course

In the basic course, modules provide an introduction to psychology and epistemology as well as basic scientific techniques and research methods (e.g. Experimental planning, empiricism, statistics, computer-aided data analysis). There are also modules on general and differential psychology, social, developmental and biopsychology, psychological diagnostics and test theory as well as relevant application areas (educational psychology, health psychology, basics of clinical psychology, work and organizational psychology).

In advanced studies, modules enable the expansion or specialization of basic and applied knowledge as well as the formation of focal points, e.g. cognitive psychology or business psychology.

Admission criteria & application for study

Due to the high demand for study places, not all interested students can be admitted to the psychology program. The numerus clausus varies from university to university and in the past was usually between 1.0 and 2.0 (information on the numerus clausus).

Note: For the winter semester 2023/24, the German Society for Psychology is offering a study aptitude test for the bachelor's degree program in psychology for the first time. Further information can be found at: www.dgps.de/psychologie-studieren/infos-zum-studium/studieneignungstest-psychologie/

Career opportunities after graduation

The employment opportunities for psychologists are very different and depend primarily on the respective field of study. Possible areas of activity are:

  • Clinical psychological practices, psychotherapeutic practices
  • Psychological counseling centers run by local authorities, churches or independent organizations
  • Psychosomatic clinics and psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation and spa facilities
  • Homes for the disabled and senior citizens, homes and institutions for social and special education
  • Psychological service in the Federal Employment Agency and the individual employment agencies
  • Psychological services from authorities, local authorities, judicial authorities, police administrations and youth welfare offices, school psychological services from states and municipalities as well as the Bundeswehr
  • Teaching and research institutions, adult education institutions, schools and preschool educational institutions
  • In large companies, e.g. in industrial psychology services, in human resources and coaching, in internal training and further education as well as in moderating international teams
  • Market and opinion research institutes, PR and advertising agencies, publishers.

The largest area of application for psychologists continues to be in the clinical sector.

In addition, new fields of activity are becoming increasingly important, for example in environmental and traffic psychology, the moderation of international teams in globally operating companies, in emergency psychology, work with seniors or sports and leisure psychology.

The German Psychotherapists Act (Psychotherapeutinnengesetz) makes the use of the professional titles "psychological psychotherapist" and "child and adolescent psychotherapist" subject to a corresponding license to practice. The prerequisite for the granting of this license is the passing of a state psychotherapeutic examination (recognized by the Scientific Advisory Board for Psychotherapy of the German Medical Association) on the basis of a completed psychology degree, which must consist of a polyvalent three-year bachelor's degree and a two-year master's degree.