New psychology degree to prepare grads for alternative careers

Wed, Aug 2, 2023

A new Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) psychology degree will prepare students for a host of careers beyond health care and counselling. 

Launching this fall, KPU’s new Bachelor of Arts in Human Behaviour and Applied Psychology is tailored to students interested in applying psychological concepts to the fields of design, business, marketing, human resources, program development, organizational development, and other sectors where expertise in psychology is in demand. 

“We’re really excited about the possibilities this degree provides students,” says Dr. Kristie Dukewich, a psychology instructor at KPU. “Students will gain skills and experience that can launch them into the workforce directly after graduation.” 

The revised degree program also emphasizes transferable research skills, preparing students for graduate school, and providing pathways to industries that rely on quantitative and qualitative research. 

Required courses, such as Interpersonal Relations, Culture and Psychology, Tests and Measurements, and Human Factors - Technology and Behaviour, equip students with job-ready skills for careers in public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Students will also participate in a workplace practicum, connecting them with B.C. employers and giving them insight into how psychology can be applied outside of the classroom. 

KPU developed the degree in consultation with employers from various fields. Employers reported that graduates would be suited for a wide variety of positions such as program evaluators, research analysts, project consultants, user experience designers, human resources advisers, and health-planning consultants. 

“These are all areas that exploit concepts from psychology,” says Dukewich. “We consulted with employers from the private, not-for-profit, and public sectors, and they all thought this degree is very marketable.” 

The Bachelor of Arts in Human Behaviour and Applied Psychology also recognizes the importance of workplace teams with a range of educational backgrounds, adds Dukewich. 

“I’m seeing a real hunger among employers for diversity on their teams. Using a variety of perspectives is seen as an asset, so there is space for our psychology students who also want to explore business, or marketing,” she says. “The diversity of lenses you can bring to a team is a real benefit.” 

Further enhancing opportunities for students is an honours option. KPU Psychology is also developing a trio of optional credentials that will allow a student to further specialize their degree and build career-focused skills. These citations can be earned when students complete five courses in one of three specialized areas: marketing and design, organizational behaviour, or research. 

Two other psychology degrees are available through KPU: a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology.