A qualitative study of the proposed career paths of Black/African American undergraduate junior and senior psychology majors

Rickey Joe Sparks, Fordham University

Abstract

The paucity of Black psychologists in the work force appears to be related to the number of Black undergraduate psychology majors pursuing doctoral degrees in professional psychology. The purpose of this research study was to examine the proposed career paths of Black undergraduate junior and senior psychology majors after they obtain their bachelor degree. The primary focus of this study was the qualitative analysis of the responses to two questions: for the purpose of best understanding your academic major choice, please explain in writing why you chose psychology as a major; would you please share in writing your proposed career plans upon completion of your bachelor degree, and the reasons for those plans. As a secondary focus, a supplemental survey was utilized to gather responses to five factors suggested to be important to Black students' decisions to pursue doctorates in psychology. These five factors were: exposure to psychology; mentor availability; support for career choice; interest in psychology; and severe financial aid constraints. ^ Subjects for the study were 80 Black undergraduate junior and senior psychology majors. A grounded theory analysis was utilized to process the data. This analysis yielded four core categories/reasons for Black/African American undergraduates having chosen psychology as a major, which were psychology classes were most interesting, general interest in human behavior, desire to help others, and understanding problems of people of color. The analysis further yielded two core categories suggesting participants' proposed post-baccalaureate career plans, which were to take time off and get work experience while paying off debts, and to pursue more education in psychology or related field. ^ Responses to the two question probe and question four of the supplemental survey indicated that 44 (approximately half) of African American/Black junior and senior psychology majors have plans to pursue a doctorate in psychology or a related field. Results also indicated that a doctorate in psychology may be a secondary or tertiary choice to the related fields such as medicine and social work. Results of the supplemental survey indicated that all five hypothesized factors played an important role in the students' post-baccalaureate career plans, however, the results also suggested an interactive effect that is unclear. ^

Subject Area

Black Studies|Psychology, Behavioral|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Rickey Joe Sparks, "A qualitative study of the proposed career paths of Black/African American undergraduate junior and senior psychology majors" (January 1, 2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3003030.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3003030

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