Alternatives to Psychology: Opaque market on the way to a dream job

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Psychology is still one of the most popular subjects. Accordingly, the hurdle of the number clausus is high - the selection limit is on average at 1,7. The almost complete conversion of diploma courses to Bachelor's degrees has not changed this. Best of HR –®

Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Varied career opportunities

Although the places of study are now generally awarded by the universities themselves rather than by the ZVS (today:, as in the past, the entry barrier still remains very high.

In addition to the professional interest in psychology, the diverse career opportunities are one of the reasons for the uninterrupted interest in the subject. Classically, many undergraduate students have the job of being a psychological psychotherapist with a couch and a cash register.

But this is not only a completed full-study psychology, usually a Master of Science is necessary: ​​The graduates must also undergo a nationwide regulated further education at a state-recognized training institution or college, the three or - part-time - lasts at least five years.

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Special courses

Nevertheless, many high school graduates and high school graduates accept a number of waiting semesters or try to get in from a neighboring subject to study psychology. But is there still a third possibility?

For some years now, universities and colleges of higher education have been offering specialized courses that combine certain areas of psychology with neighboring disciplines such as social work, health, education or economics.

The result is study courses that do not replace a full-fledged psychology education and therefore, for example, do not qualify for a position as a therapist, but prepare the students much more targeted for a specific profession. In addition, these small disciplines are often not mass subjects, which makes the study conditions far more enjoyable.

Psychological special subjects at a glance

So can such study programs be an alternative to studying psychology? Do you even offer the opportunity to study the desired subject without the annoying numerus-clausus obstacle? And then opens the way to the ideal job Psychotherapist?

Business education and knowledge psychology

A clear and decisive “No” comes from Dr. Lynn Huestegge. Huestegge has to know: he studied psychology himself and today he is a specialist study consultant for the psychological part of the degree course in Business Education and Knowledge Psychology (BPWP) at the RWTH Aachen University (RWTH Aachen).

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“In contrast to classical psychology, which ends with a Bachelor of Science, BPWP is studied with us as one of two subjects with the goal of a Bachelor of Arts - for example in combination with communication, social or economics. BPWP students even have some events in common with psychology students. Since BPWP originally emerged from the area of ​​company pedagogy, the subject consists only partly of psychology. In the entire Bachelor's degree, psychology only makes up 25 percent. ”

explains Huestegge some important differences between the classical psychology and the special course of study pedagogy and knowledge psychology. In terms of content, there are also major differences: In the field of business pedagogy, students learn the prerequisites, processes and results of qualification and design processes in companies and organizations that qualify employees for new requirements.

The knowledge psychology is a field of cognitive psychology and deals with the learning processes: The students learn here how acquisition, coding, organization, storage, retrieval and application of knowledge works. The degree course in Business Education and Knowledge Psychology prepares students for the field of extracurricular education and training. BPWP thus conveys the core competencies for company training and development strategies, for personnel and organizational development, for qualification concepts, for knowledge management or for advice on problems and conflicts.

“Our graduates cannot work as therapists afterwards. But if you're in Company If they are to organize a further training measure, they can see which further training is of benefit to which employee because they have learned during their studies how knowledge is acquired, stored in the memory and applied to tasks and problems in practice. ”

Study advisor Huestegge makes a further difference to classical psychology studies.

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For potential employers such as training providers, research institutes or management consultancies, the special course is at least as good as traditional psychology. This also explains the great demand for one of the 25 courses per semester.

“We have a numerus clausus of approximately 1,8, which is comparable to the NC on the Bachelor of Sciens course. Therefore, BPWP is not a good pool for students who do not get a place in psychology. A later change is also possible, but difficult, because a place to study must always be available and course achievements are only partially recognized. On the other hand, it is much easier to join a master in education and knowledge management. ”

Huestegge makes the problem clear again.

Teaching, learning and training psychology

At the University of Erfurt, too, the degree program in teaching, learning and training psychology is by no means an alternative to traditional psychology programs. Rather, the degree program deals with the description, explanation, prediction and change of teaching and learning processes and their individual, social, cultural and economic framework conditions. The study program is based on the findings and research methods of general psychology, differential psychology, developmental as well as social and organizational psychology. In addition, concepts, methods and findings of instructional psychology, pedagogical-psychological diagnostics, educational psychology and business psychology are taught.

Even statistics that require mathematical foundations, and research methods are an integral part of the study. Research foci at the University of Erfurt are decision research, giftedness research and career choice research. For example, students learn how career choice decisions work and how they can later help students make their career choices. However, what is completely lacking in study is any form of clinical and biological psychology, such as the study advisor Dr. Silvia Andrée explains:

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“Our course was integrated into the university's faculty of education right from the start. In addition, the Bachelor of Arts degree can only be a major subject combined with a minor such as B. Social sciences, educational sciences or economics - or as a minor. In the main subject, we only award 84 credit points. Compared to studying psychology for a Bachelor of Science with 120 to 150 credit points, that's just a lot less. This means that our students cannot work as resident therapists afterwards because we do not offer a full psychology degree. ”

Future occupational fields

However, the graduates have many other career options: for example, the psychological development diagnostics and early support of infants in appropriate care facilities, or the school psychological diagnostics for talent issues, partial performance disorders and school achievement problems. They can also work in vocational and occupational further education or adult education, for example by designing and evaluating training measures. However, some graduates are drawn to rather untypical professions such as advertising. Another area of ​​application is human resources, such as Dr. Silvia Andrée clarifies:

“With diagnostic methods, our graduates can later check in companies whether an applicant is suitable for a job or not. They then design the selection process or conduct job interviews with psychological expertise. ”

Since only 42 places for the main subject and 31 for the minor subject are awarded in the program per semester, there is also an internal numerus clausus of average 1,9. 80 percent of the study places are awarded after the graduation grade point average, 20 percent after waiting semesters. So if you are interested in a psychological subject, you should think twice about choosing teaching, learning and training psychology or rather for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in view of the high entry barriers - because a later change is extremely difficult. As study advisor Andrée explains:

“Since we only offer traditional psychology with restrictions, those wishing to change must enroll at another university. There you may be credited with part of the course achievements, but in any case they will be downgraded and lose time. With the changeover to Bachelor's and Master's degreeCourses, such subject changes are becoming increasingly difficult. A Master can usually be easily attached - a possibility that most of our students also take advantage of. ”

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Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences

Not only universities, but also numerous colleges offer special psychological study programs. One example is the H: G School of Health and Sports in Berlin, where students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Mental Health. In contrast to the Bachelor of Arts, where psychology is always only one of at least two subjects, the Bachelor of Science is a complete psychology study of seven semesters, whereby the first to fourth semester conveys the basics of the subject, the fifth semester Practical semester is in the sixth and seventh semester, the health science focus is in the center. To prepare for the job serves a practical semester in which students try out what they have learned and gain their first professional experience.

There is no numerus clausus at the H: G, however, prospective students must show in selection interviews that they are suitable for the subject. Students also have to pay 365 Euro per month for tuition because it is a private university. In addition, once enrollment 250 Euro are payable and there are 290 Euro examination fee for the Bachelor examination. However, students receive optimal care in small learning groups and courses of a maximum of 30 persons, because the university shares higher education with study groups and can hire additional teaching staff.

Wide range of subjects and job opportunities

The study contents are correspondingly comprehensive: Among others, general and biological psychology, developmental psychology, personality psychology or social psychology are part of the curriculum. The health sciences focus of the study is covered in the higher semesters by modules from the areas of clinical psychology and health psychology. Also a Master in Psychology and Mental Health is possible. Here, students can choose between the main areas of behavioral therapy, neuropsychology and gerontopsychology and deepen their knowledge accordingly.

“In developmental psychology, the focus is on the development of humans from birth to old age. It is asked which factors human development depends on in the various stages of development. Social psychology deals with the experience and behavior of people in their interpersonal environment: How do people influence other people, how does belonging to a group affect social behavior, what conflicts and intervention options are available? ”

here Dr. Rainer Haarbusch, Chancellor of the H: G College of Health and Sports, the differences between the psychological disciplines. From this offer, there are also many career opportunities: for example, as a consultant in the health sector, in companies or in training and further education - but also in areas such as marketing and public relations, as Haarbusch explains:

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“For example, our graduates can work in HIV counseling in health offices, in rehabilitation facilities or in occupational health care. Those who specialize in gerontopsychology in the master's degree deal with age-appropriate living and can develop concepts for the design of retirement homes and senior-friendly means of transportation for municipalities. For example, our graduates also provide scientific support for projects that contribute to changing public awareness of mental illnesses. ”

Overall, H: G graduates will find opportunities in all areas of health promotion, prevention and intervention, where hair shaver claims there is an increasing demand for academically trained professionals. When it comes to therapy, psychotherapists are needed. Whether further training as a psychological psychotherapist for the H: G graduates is possible, however, has not yet been conclusively clarified. H: G is currently examining this together with the responsible medical societies. Even for graduates who want to complete the study program at H: G with a Bachelor of Science and want to move to another state university for the Master, this can be difficult: Because the degrees at the H: G are equal to the degrees of state Higher education institutions and the bachelor are theoretically recognized at each university, but in practice the admission of a graduate always depends on the number of study places that are awarded for a master, as Chancellor Haarbusch makes clear:

“It is more likely that Bachelor graduates from state universities who do not get a place in the Master’s courses will switch to us. In contrast to state universities, we are likely to be able to give all of our Bachelor graduates access to the Master’s course that meet the qualification requirements. ”

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  1. Ulrike

    But it is very interesting that it takes such a good average to study psychology. My daughter absolutely wants to study child psychology in Munich. I told her that she would probably have to make an effort. I will recommend reading this blog to get more information!

  2. Simone Janson

    Hello Martin,
    thanks for checking back - I have now updated the link. The operator of has unfortunately changed and changed the link.

    My opinion corresponds to what is in the article also: It depends on the desired goal and the conclusion. If you later want to work as a psychotherapist with the statutory health insurance, such alternativeCourses are rather bad, because the Psychologiesche Psychotherapeuth is a protected job title. If, on the other hand, you want to study economics, then probably one course in psychology is as good as the other (although specializations are recommended here as well).

    An overview is available at the professional association, where there are certainly more information. And then, if necessary, check closely with the Studienberatug der Uni.

  3. Martin

    Unfortunately, some of your links to no longer seem to work. This applies, inter alia, to the link in this article.

    Nevertheless, I have found some alternatives to studying psychology, for example at

    What do you think of similar programs at small private universities? For example, (!) Applied psychology at the MSH, which exists only since 2009?

    Are these high-quality alternatives or is there only money made with the NC losers?

  4. Simone Janson

    Thanks for the hint. I will include this in an update!

  5. Jan

    Only as a small supplement: The average of the numberus clausus is even higher if I look at these numbers: Numerus Clausus für Psychologie.

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