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What to do with your psychology degree...

Students with a PhD in Psychology from the University of Otago have become Research Fellows, Lecturers, and Professors at universities in New Zealand and overseas. Some have gone directly to these positions, and others have first held postdoctoral research fellowships at universities throughout the world. They all have positions as scientists, specialising in one (or more) of the following areas:

  • Alzheimer's Disease; learning and memory; spatial memory and navigation; effects of brain damage on behaviour; Schizophrenia and risk for psychosis; emotional and physical well-being; understanding the experience of illness and treatment decisions
  • cognition and memory development in infants and children; childhood amnesia; social understanding in infants, children, older adults and other animals; preschoolers' socio-emotional development and their language development; cures for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • social influences on cognitive development and autobiographical memory development; reasoning, decision making, and social cognition; visual cognition, face and object recognition; human and animal behaviour in detection and choice procedures; cognitive engineering and aviation psychology
  • society, race, class and gender IQ differences; social identity, self-esteem, prejudice and intergroup relations

Not all of our students have chosen the academia career pathway. Having a Psychology degree gives you a lot of options when choosing a career. We profile some of the varied professions our students have chosen below.

Graduate Profiles

Take a look at the following graduate profiles. They show a diverse range of career options by some of our graduate students over the years.

Jacob Ashdown

Jacob Ashdown

Case Manager, Moana House Recovery Programme

Being Māori, Jacob wanted to use what he learned in his undergraduate studies in Māori and Psychology to help improve health and wellbeing for Māori - so that's exactly what he's doing ...

Associate Professor Rachel Barr

Rachel Barr low

Director, Georgetown Early Learning Project

Now an associate professor at Georgetown University and director of her own Early Learning Project heself, Rachel recalls how excited she was when studying how babies learn and remember became an available option for her through Professor Hayne's newly formed Early Learning Project lab here at Otago ...

Dr Sue Bidrose

Sue Bidrose

CEO, Dunedin City Council

Sue Bidrose's life has taken several unexpected twists and turns since studying Psychology at Otago in the 1990s. Find out what they were here ...

Lisa Dick

Lisa Dick

Editor, University of Otago Bulletin Board

A career in journalism is not the most obvious step to take from a psychology degree, but Lisa Dick says it gave her unique and specialised skills which have helped her when working for some of New Zealand's top news organisations ...

Matt Hegan

Matt Hegan

Psychologist, Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS), Ministry of Education

Matt Hegan talks about his work as a Psychologist for the IWS, a top-tier Ministry of Education intervention for the most at-risk youth in our communities, and the variety of work he undertakes each day ...

Dr Owen Jones

Owen Jones

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology

Owen Jones, who works in the Abraham lab tells us why it's exciting to to be an astrocyte researcher at this time ...

Stephven Kolose

Stephven Kolose

Human Factors Scientist, Defence Technology Agency, NZ Defence Force

It was a 300-level paper in Ergonomics (Forensic and Applied Psychology) which set a career in Ergonomics and Human factors in motion for Stephven Kolose. Find out why and how ...

Dr Niki Osborne

Niki Osborne

Research Associate, ESR

Niki Osborne is getting used to her friends calling her “Dexter” – after all, she spends her work days looking at blood spatter ...

Rose Patterson

Rose Patterson

Research Fellow, New Zealand Initiative

Rose Patterson decided to complete a Masters in Psychology after she was given advice that postgraduate study would help towards a career in research and evaluation. See what happened once she did ...

Dr Rebecca Sargisson

Rebecca Sargisson

Lecturer in Psychology, University of Waikato

After Rebecca completed her PhD in 2003, she got a job in Geneva with a humanitarian de-mining organisation. Her job was to conduct research on dogs' abilities to detect landmines ...

Dr Damian Scarf

Dr Damian Scarf

Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Psychology

Damian's rise in Psychology is nothing less than inspirational. Failing school, he ended up on the dole. Now, he loves teaching and supporting students of his own, helping to raise their interest in Psychology. Damian is proof that it's never too late to get to where you want to be if you put your mind to it ...

Dr Mele Taumoepeau

Mele Taumoepeau

Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Psychology

While at university, Mele developed a real interest in research; thinking deeper about those 'why' and 'how' questions that kept popping into her head. After working as a speech and language therapist, she thought the time was right to see if she could follow a research career. The Department of Psychology at Otago was a fantastic place to start ...

Dr Reremoana (Moana) Theodore

Moana TheodoreResearch Fellow, National Centre for Lifecourse Research

Moana's research experience and postgraduate diploma in Psychology were key factors that led to her being offered a job as an Interviewer for the age 26 assessment phase at the world renowned Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Her current research focuses on the impact that education has on Māori health and wellbeing throughout the lifecourse ...

Officer Cadet Stephen Wright

Officer Cadet Stephen Wright

Officer Cadet, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Immediately after completing his thesis, Stephen began working at the RNZAF. He has conducted work around human factors, aviation psychology, post-deployment issues and aircrew/officer selections ...

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