Is Psychology a STEM Major or a Social Science?

Is Psychology a STEM Major or A Social Science?

What comes to your mind when someone mentions the term “psychology?” Is it reading other people’s minds? Is it guesswork? While psychology is a major in the United States’ learning curriculum, it is not a science discipline. Thus, the question that begs the solution is, is psychology a stem major? In this short piece, our Nursing experts demystify this question and explain everything you need about psychology. They also help prospective nurses with their nursing projects and exams.

What is the Meaning of STEM?

STEM is a learning approach that prepares primary and college learners for college or graduate degree programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM’s primary objective is to foster a curious culture, logical reasoning, and collaborative skills among learners. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. All majors that fall under these four fields are classified as STEM degrees.

Critical reasoning is the key factor that sets STEP apart from other degrees. Its primary approach to education is to help learners to be more creative and apply different skills to solve real-time problems. Many people believe STEM degrees are superior, but the only exception is the critical thinking factor.   

Is Psychology a STEM Major?

Many people will likely state that psychology is not a STEM major when asked this question. However, the American Psychology Association (APA) classifies psychology as a core STEM discipline. The APA classifies psychology as STEM because of its direct contributions to scientific and technical innovations and its indirect contribution to education and learning.

Though the APA considers psychology a STEM major, it is not recognized as one. Psychology is the least appreciated field with less funding. Google also defines psychology as the scientific study of human minds and its functionalities. Thus, since the term “science” appears in this definition and science is a STEM field, psychology qualifies to be classified as a STEM major.

How is STEM Classified?

There is a particular criterion used when classifying academic disciplines. STEM is one of these classification systems. But where does psychology fit into this framework? Some may argue that psychology should fall under the STEM category following its scientific nature and the utilization of empirical research methodologies. However, others believe psychology does not fit into the STEM category since it falls under the social sciences umbrella.

Psychology overlaps numerous STEM fields. For example, cognitive psychology is heavily based on neuroscience and computer science when interpreting the functionality of the mind and its processes.

Statistical analysis and data interpretation skills are often used in psychological research. The majority of these skills link to mathematics and statistics. Accordingly, the interdisciplinary nature of psychology is a typical indication of its interconnection with STEM fields.

However, another distinct psychology aspect that separates it from other traditional STEM fields is the area of focus. For example, studying human behaviors, emotions, cognition, and mental status focuses on subjective experiences instead of objective measurements. Accordingly, this aspect distinguishes psychology from STEM fields.

The National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) lists the subareas of study involving research and experimental psychology as follows:

  • Qualitative
  • Personality
  • Social psychology
  • Experimental psychology
  • Comparative psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Biological psychology
  • Cognitive psychology

Indeed, each of these subareas contains ingredients of the STEM discipline. Some learning institutions have reclassified psychology as a science degree, but some lag. Specifically, the federal government and higher education have yet to fully recognize psychology as a STEM major.  

What Does Psychology Need to be Recognized as STEM?

Psychology is often misunderstood and undervalued. People should shift their mindset from seeing psychology as a behavioral and mental health aspect and see it as a science of behavior. Based on the classifications, psychology is indeed more of a behavioral component. It also entails the scientific part as it delves into understanding human behavior at both individual and collective levels.

Psychology has an instrumental role in many other sectors. These include education, healthcare, business management, sports science, and criminal justice. For example, psychologists are instrumental in improving the mental health outcomes of individuals in these sectors and enhancing their well-being within communities.

Further, it is essential to recognize the scientific rigor involved in psychology research. Most psychologists use empirical scientific methods in collecting, analyzing data, and performing experiments to test hypotheses. The continued emphasis on evidence-based practices ensures that psychological findings are reliable and valid, classifying it as STEM.

Bottom Line

The question, “Is psychology a STEM major?” remains controversial. While some argue that its blend of scientific methods with qualitative analysis, the APA recognizes it as a core STEM discipline. Whether you view it as a STEM major or not, what’s undeniable is the value of critical thinking and rigorous study techniques. Recognizing psychology as a legitimate STEM field is crucial to appreciating its scientific rigor and contributions to various sectors. This acknowledgment is essential for fostering interdisciplinary growth and advancing our understanding of human behavior. Contact us for one-on-one consultations if you encounter any challenges with your psychology assignments or exams.

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