Majors for Aspiring Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who provide counseling therapy and prescribe drugs to treat mental, emotional and addictive disorders. Read on to learn more about possible majors, the education path to a career as a psychiatrist and online program options. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Major Should I Take for Becoming a Psychiatrist?

Aspiring psychiatrists must earn a bachelor's degree. You can choose any major as long as you complete the courses that medical schools require for admission. Required undergraduate courses usually include chemistry, biology, physics, calculus, statistics and English.

Aspiring psychiatrists often major in a science-based field, such as chemistry or biology. Students who don't major in the sciences may succeed in medical school as long as they take the required science classes, according to a Harvard Medical School study (

Available MajorsAny major acceptable if required undergraduate courses completed
Undergraduate ClassesChemistry, biology, physics, calculus, statistics, English
Career RequirementsBachelor's degree, 4 years of medical school, pass MCAT, 4-year residency
Program FormatOn-campus sometimes required, partial online programs available

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Undergraduate programs for aspiring psychiatrists are typically offered on campus, but online programs are available. Some online undergraduate science programs allow you to complete all coursework, including lectures and labs, online. Other online programs require on-campus lab participation.

Some schools may provide many of the undergraduate courses online that are required by medical schools. You'll complete your assignments and communicate with teachers using online course management platforms such as Angel or Blackboard. A computer with high-speed Internet access is usually required.

After College, What's Next for Becoming a Psychiatrist?

After earning a bachelor's degree, you must complete four years of medical school to become a psychiatrist. The school must hold accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting organization for medical education programs. You'll need to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in order to gain admission to medical school.

During the first two years of medical school, you'll take courses like anatomy, pharmacology and physiology. You'll learn to examine patients and diagnose medical conditions. The last two years include supervised clinical rotations in several areas of medicine, including psychiatry.

After completing medical school, you'll serve a 4-year psychiatric residency in a hospital or other medical facility. Residents provide therapy to patients, conduct research and participate in seminars. 1-2 additional years in residency are required for certification in a sub-specialty, like child or adolescent psychiatry.

You'll need to be state-licensed in order to practice psychiatry. Graduation from an accredited medical school and successful completion of the United States Medical Licensing Exam are required.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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