Why Study Psychology?

U of T Scarborough PhD candidate Rimma Teper conducts digital research in a psychology lab

Eager to study personality, social behaviour, development, cognition, perception and/or behavioural neuroscience? As a Psychology student at UTM, you join a dynamic community of globally-ranked researchers who are continually re-defining our understanding of human and animal behaviour.

Psychology programs emphasize the scientific method and its application to the study of behaviour and thought processes in humans and animals. Courses in a wide range of areas are taught by outstanding faculty, many of whom conduct leading edge research in areas such as child development, social behaviour, cognition, perception, personality and the biological basis of behaviour. You can engage in ongoing research and/or applied field work under the supervision of faculty members.

On this page:


What makes this Psychology program unique?

Psychology is one of University of Toronto's largest undergraduate programs, which includes a diverse faculty and world-ranking graduate research profile. 

In addition to the program itself, as a Psychology student at UTM, you'll be immersed in a truly distinctive campus experience. You'll be attending informative lectures, tutorials and labs taught by the world-class educators that you'd expect from Canada's largest and most acclaimed university. At the same time, you'll also enjoy the down-to-earth sense of community that a campus – situated on 225 acres of lush, protected greenbelt – can provide.


Psychology, global: the worldwide impact of this discipline

Many psychologists maintain that the importance of psychology is even more profound since the dawn of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As noted in a global statement by the American Psychological Association:

"Psychology is an autonomous scientific discipline that applies to nearly every aspect of our boundless experience. Psychologists work in a broad range of settings—effectively any place where human functioning is relevant. [...] Psychologists have a role in supporting health and well-being globally within a human rights framework with the ultimate goal of improving lives."

From understanding motives and behaviour, to combating stress, discrimination, violence, climate change and more — psychology is a discipline with far-reaching global impact. For more information and further resources, visit the Global Psychology Alliance website.


Skills you'll develop

  • Communication: formulate and defend positions; good listening, clarifying, questioning, and responding skills; write carefully reasoned reports; and sensitivity to cultural and ethnic diversity.
  • Research: summarize complex materials; assess and analyze data; use criteria to evaluate and make decisions; and carry out tasks with thoroughness and precision.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving: understand complex problems and identify potential solutions; and approach problems from a variety of perspectives.
  • Organizational: identify goals; manage time; multitask; and work independently and collaboratively with others.

Student speaking with career advisor

Career opportunities

While not exhaustive, here's a list of career options that are available to you as a Psychology graduate (some require further education and experience):

Counsellor/Therapist/ Psychologist

  • Addictions Counsellor
  • Athletic Therapist
  • Behaviour Therapist
  • Mental Health Nurse
  • Recreation Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Counsellor  

Academics and Teaching

  • Educational Administrator
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • ESL Teacher
  • Speech-Language Pathologist

 Business-Related

  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Entrepreneur
  • Lawyer
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Statistician
  • Sport Psychology Consultant 

Human Resources

  • Corporate Trainer
  • Labour Relations Specialist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • Human Resources Specialist

Social and Human Services

  • Child And Youth Worker
  • Clinical Manager
  • Communications Specialist
  • Correctional Officer
  • Social Worker

For a full list of career opportunities, visit the Careers by Major - Psychology page.


Research opportunities (by category)

Entry-level

Research Volunteer

  • This is a great way to get started in research. Many of the labs in the UTM Psychology department offer introductory research opportunities to those who are interested and qualify. Typically, volunteers might be involved in the following activities:
    • Participating in lab/project meetings
    • Piloting experiments
    • Preparing an Experiment for data collection
    • Collecting Data
    • Entering Data Entry and/or pre-processing Data 6) Conducting literature reviews on research topics
  • The experience as a research volunteer is often required or highly- regarded for more advanced research opportunities (e.g., ROP, IRP, Thesis).

Credit-based opportunities

Research Opportunity Program (ROP)

  • This position is similar to a volunteer research position, but it is generally more project-based.
  • The ROP is a University-run program in which qualified students earn course credit by obtaining intermediate-level research experiences in research labs on specific lab projects.
  • General information for the application process can be found here.

Independent Research Project for Credit (PSY40X)

  • The IRP is a 4th-year course (offered as a semester-long and year-long course) in which qualified students conduct an independent research project under a faculty supervisor affiliated with the UTM Psychology department.
  • This position usually allows for more independence than a research volunteer and an ROP in that students either lead their own project or one chosen by a faculty member. As such, it often requires prior research experiences as a research volunteer or an ROP student.
  • General information for the application process can be found here.

Undergraduate Honours Thesis (PSY40X)

  • Conducting an honour’s thesis is the most advanced form of research experience since students will be a leader of a research project.
  • The Honours Thesis program is a year-long course in which highly qualified undergraduate students conduct an independent research project under a faculty supervisor affiliated with the UTM Psychology department. Admission to this program is highly competitive and general requirements can be found here. 
  • More general information can be found here.

Paid opportunities

  • Work-Study is a University-run program that offers qualified students paid opportunities to obtain hands-on research experiences. Many research labs in the UTM Psychology department participate in this program to offer various opportunities throughout the year.
  • The qualification varies across opportunities and is described in program specifications for each opportunity. The research experiences also vary across opportunities and may include but are not limited to the same activities as the unpaid positions.
  • General information for the application process can be found here.

Paid Research Assistant

  • On some occasions, a paid research assistantship may be available for highly-qualified students.
  • The qualification for this position is specific to each lab, but it almost always requires extensive prior research experience in a specific field of research. The research experiences also vary across opportunities and may include but are not limited to the same activities as the unpaid positions.
  • For more information, please contact the lab of your interest.

Other opportunities

  • On-Campus opportunities booklet
  • Part-time and volunteer positions
    • Attend the annual Get Experience Fair 
    • Check out our binder with detailed information on volunteer opportunities; available in the Career Centre
    • Learn about the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), which can help you find opportunities beyond the classroom and have your skills and experiences captured on an official document

Our students' perspectives

Here's what some of our Psychology students have to say about their experiences:

"UTM introduced me to the study of psychology as a science, elucidating my interest in pursuing research this field in the future. ~ Sophie Coelho

One of the best experiences I’ve had at UTM was collecting my thesis data. The process of collecting my data was complex and entailed many long days and late nights but I loved every second of it. ~ Erica Winks

The best experience I have had at UTM is the chance to participate in multiple ROPs in the Relationships and Wellbeing Lab. I learned a lot about research and got to work with amazing people! ~ Sarah Fahmi


Additional resources