“Is the psychology degree difficult?” It’s a question every student has asked himself before starting to study the science of behavior. We have all felt the need to ask ourselves if, perhaps, that interesting career that was presented to us as a possibility within reach, could at some point surpass us because of its difficulty and demand.

If you are a person who is finishing your high school studies and your goal is to study Psychology, there is no doubt that this article interests you. If your case is a little less orthodox and you are thinking about going back to school but you are not sure if studying Psychology is a good idea, you should also read on.

The Perception of Difficulty about the Psychology Career

In this post I asked a total of eight mental health professionals their honest opinion about the question at hand : is the Psychology degree easy or difficult ? As this is a question whose answer is highly subjective, I thought it would be interesting to gather the answers of professionals with different profiles and characteristics: age, nationality, specialization… among all of them, I hope, you will be able to draw your own conclusions.

1. Miguel Ángel Rizaldos

  • Miguel Ángel Rizaldos, clinical psychologist and founder of Clinical Psychology 2.0
  • Age: 49
  • He resides at: Madrid
  • University where he studied: Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Specialty: Clinic

Answer : I recently turned thirty years old since I started my studies at the Faculty of Psychology of the Complutense University of Madrid. That is why we were at a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of my promotion. I remembered with my classmates at that event when I returned to the halls and classrooms of the faculty some experiences of those old times, when we were young and excited and a little lost in life.

Those of you who are thinking of studying psychology, I tell you that you now have a very consolidated and recognized profession. What I found most difficult at that time was statistics and a subject called ‘Thought and Language’. But nothing that can’t be overcome with will and effort. Then, in the practice of the profession, comes the really exciting thing: working with people to achieve greater well-being.

2. Teresa Vallejo Laso

  • Teresa Vallejo Laso, clinical psychologist and founder of PsicoTesa
  • Age: 45
  • He resides at: Jaén
  • University at which it was formed: National University of Distance Education
  • Specialty: Clinic

Answer : Nothing is difficult if you put your mind to it. The first step in the process of becoming a psychologist is the interaction of ability, motivation and effort.For any objective you want to achieve, whatever its nature, the first thing you have to have is the ability, that is, to meet the conditions, qualities and aptitudes, which in this case would be intellectual. As important as the capacity is the motivation or will, which is what fills you with energy and guides you towards the achievement of the goal you set out to achieve. But this is not enough, because the effort to carry out the action is also necessary. And the interaction of these three variables is so important that one without the other could not act separately in this process and would not have been possible.

But you will also have to overcome other difficulties.The first year will disorientate you a little, because that’s where you dismantle the erroneous idea and beliefs of what until now you understood psychology to be, ideas that are based on popular myths and knowledge that have shaken and damaged this profession so much. It has happened to all of us that what we had been told is psychology and what we imagined, or had seen on TV, well it is not (knowing if people lie by looking at them or through the polygraph, guessing what they think, psychoanalyzing them on a couch…).Another barrier you have to overcome is the subjects of the first years. Arriving at the university and finding yourself with subjects such as psychometry (statistics, probability, data analysis), psychophysiology, biology, anthropology, research design, seems not to coincide with what you expected and discouragement can appear.

But don’t despair: psychology is a science and, as such, uses the scientific method and research to build theories and models that can explain, predict and control behavior and mental processes, and for that you will have to study a lot.If you manage to overcome these traps, everything becomes easier and what you were waiting for begins to arrive, being able to choose a specialty. In my case, the clinic, subjects like Psychopathology, Behavior Modification, Psychodiagnosis, etc. But there are so many and so varied branches around the understanding of human behavior that make psychology never stop surprising, interesting and passionate.For all this, if you have arrived here, if you have understood what this science is, if you are passionate about reading and discovering in order to provide tools that help improve people’s lives, you feel the need to do so, you have the capacity to empathize with people, you know how to listen, manage, solve problems and you have the ability to draw conclusions, you are on the right path to start discovering this exciting world that is psychology, and I encourage you to do so.

3. Isidro Migallón

  • Isidro Migallón, student of Psychology and founder of Psicocode
  • Age: 33
  • He resides at: Torrevieja
  • University where it was formed: University of Alicante and UNED

Answer : I think that the Psychology degree has a medium/high difficulty, especially if you study it at the UNED as it is my case. On the one hand there are very accessible and easy to understand subjects such as Social Psychology or Developmental Psychology and, on the other hand, there are more complex and profound subjects such as Psychopharmacology or Language Psychology.

Approximately 20% of the course is made up of ‘number’ subjects which tend to give the students the most headaches (especially if you have studied a Bachelor of Arts degree) but are completely ‘passable’ with a little determination and effort. Among these subjects are Data Analysis (I and II) and Psychometry.

There are also some subjects that we could define as more “medical” and related to the human body and health. Examples of these subjects can be found in “Developmental Neuropsychology”, “Fundamentals of Psychobiology” and “Physiological Psychology”. Despite the fact that the degree of depth of these subjects is quite high, in my opinion they are the most beautiful and interesting of the career.In short, I think it is a career with a medium/high difficulty that will pass from one pole to another depending on the tastes and interests of each person.

4. Marc Lluís Vives

  • Marc Lluís Vives, psychologist and PhD student
  • Age: 24
  • He resides at: Barcelona
  • University where you studied: University of Barcelona
  • Specialty: research

Answer : Studying Psychology under my experience at the University of Barcelona is not difficult, in the sense that it fulfils a maxim that other degrees considered more complicated sometimes do not fulfil: if you study, you almost always pass. With a better or worse grade, but the usual thing is to pass because you have studied. And studying does not mean catching up, but a constant and long-lasting job. I am not saying that it is not necessary to make an effort and dedicate hours to it, it is, but that effort almost always has a reward. Anyway, you have to separate what it is to “get out” of the career with really getting to an adequate level of mastery in relation to the field you want to devote to psychology, whether it is clinical, research, social or human resources. In this sense, it takes years and years of dedication and learning to be able to say that you have mastered your field of work.

To really get to know a field requires a lot of self-effort, and constant self-learning during and, above all, after the race. In my case, the little I know about psychology is not thanks to institutionalized formal education, but to my hours of dedication reading and studying about the field that I am passionate about on my own. Learning, in the end, is an individual task.

5. Jonathan Garcia-Allen

  • Jonathan García-Allen, psychologist and director of communication at Psychology and Mind
  • Age: 32
  • He resides at: Barcelona
  • University where you studied: University of Barcelona
  • Specialty: Human Resources, Sports Psychology, Coaching

Answer : The difficulty of the race depends on many factors and to say that it is easy or not has much to do with one’s motivation and desire. The time you have to devote to your career is also important: some people have all the time in the world to study and others combine study with work, so it can be more difficult for them to keep the subjects up to date. The degree is long, and no one is going to give it away if you don’t make an effort. You should also keep in mind that four or five years can seem like an eternity if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. Of course, the course requires effort and persistence, because you have to read many books, scientific research, and articles to understand the complexity of the human mind, behavior, and relationships.

The first years are the most complicated (and can even be boring) because the subjects prepare you for a good foundation. As you progress through your studies, you specialize in what you like and put into practice the knowledge you have acquired over the years. In my case, the degree was affordable because I had previous training in both biology and statistics, subjects that, although not complicated, are usually not to the liking of many students. However, if you really want to be a psychologist, the results are there.

6. Karemi Rodríguez Batista

  • Karemi Rodríguez Batista, Health psychologist, and expert in clinical and adult psychotherapy Founder of Psico-K
  • Age: 37
  • He resides at: Madrid, Spain
  • University at which it was formed: National University of Distance Education
  • Specialty: Clinical and Health Psychology

Answer : This is a question that requires an answer depending on your personal situation, of course, but if you are reading Psychology and Mind , and in particular this entry, you probably start with elements in favour, that you like psychology and that you are motivated, and these are the two most important factors for success in your studies and that you should promote. Now, I think that you have to take into account other factors before starting this beautiful adventure, simply to be able to control them in the best possible way, as they can be: the type of study you are considering (classroom-based or distance, perhaps you think it will be easier at a distance, but believe me, it has its degree of difficulty, you will have to be more autonomous and seek your life to complete that training, in a classroom-based is a little more guided but both have their pros and cons), your current age (it is not the same to arrive at 18 than at 48, because you will have more responsibilities and perhaps you will feel less agile, however strategies such as organization and promoting methods of study, sleep and food, are usually a very effective method) your responsibilities, your study habits (which can always be improved whatever the age)…

Anyway, these are just a few factors, only you can detect what those strengths and weaknesses are, but I am sure that with a lot of effort, and above all patience with yourself, you can solve any difficulty and become a great mental health professional. Go for it!

7. Jonatan Suárez

  • Jonatan Suárez, psychologist and professor at the Universidad Tecnológica de Guayaquil
  • Age: 29
  • He resides at: Guayaquil
  • University where he studied: University of Guayaquil
  • Specialty: Teaching

Answer : Studying psychology goes beyond spending four or five years in a classroom studying a range of books that tell us about human development and behaviour. A very important factor that comes into play and determines whether you have the aptitude or the attitude to study this career is your vocation .When a person is asked about the reasons why he or she would like to study this career, the most common answer may be that “he or she wants to help people solve their conflicts or problems” or another profile that indicates that “he or she finds the human mind interesting and studying it is a challenge.Studying psychology opens us to a varied field of topics and knowledge. It is a time of dedication to scientific reading and research, which will provide us with the necessary theoretical knowledge to be able to practice as psychologists in practical and real issues.

As for the level of demand on the career, it will depend a lot on the university and its academic offer. In the most advanced universities you will find subjects approved by a scientific council that evaluates the career grid and approves the essential subjects for the student’s development. This indicates that you will have to give an excellent performance in order to pass the cycles, obviously if you put effort and dedication you will be closer to achieving it.This does not mean that other universities do not try to squeeze the maximum of each student’s talent, but there are often cases of academies that do not provide the necessary guarantees for the adequate development of their students and they usually graduate professionals with very limited knowledge. The evaluation process, too, often has some shortcomings.In short, any academic career, however “easy” it may seem, is an investment not only of money but also of time and effort and will require many hours of dedication. If you decide to study psychology, the best thing is that you feel it is your vocation.

8. Anissa Ouali Lamtalbi

  • Anissa Ouali Lamtalbi, integrative psychotherapist and clinical sexologist
  • Age: 30 years old
  • He resides at: Calella
  • University where you studied: University of Barcelona
  • Specialty: Psychotherapy and sexology

Answer : In general terms, the psychology career itself hides the same difficulties as many other careers, for example, feeling lost (at the beginning, but also at the end), very stressful exam times, endless hours of study, cursed subjects, books that look like bricks… And of course, the great lack of motivation that accompanies us: after all this effort, where you will really learn will be after the race! (so why study so hard?). In the face of these difficulties, we will need various ingredients that can help us, since in their absence they can make the slope steeper and create more difficulty. The difficulty does not lie only in whether or not there is motivation and desire (but they will be necessary), nor in one’s own capacity (although it helps). For me the difficulty lies in the vision you have of the great project. One way that helps me understand this is to visualize it as a journey. Knowing the place where you would like to arrive, helps us to plan the route, and mark the steps to follow. Perhaps this is where the greatest difficulty lies, in my opinion. Once you have decided, you know that you want to be a psychologist (even though you don’t really know the range of areas of work that a psychologist can have), you will have to start asking yourself other questions, for example, what do you want to be when you grow up? Where would you like to see yourself working? How will you do it? What speciality will you choose?…

These and/or many other issues are the ones that usually arise after the race (unless our goals have been very clear and unchangeable from the beginning) and that is where vertigo can arise and you can feel more lost. That is why it is important to ask ourselves, little by little (there is no need to wait to finish the race) where we want to go, and with the help of our motivation, desire, sacrifices, looking for resources,… we will be able to reach our destination!