With more than 115,000 psychology majors graduating each year, it is an understatement to say that competition is fierce. Whether you plan to go to graduate school or to enter the world of work, a decent GPA is not enough to make you stand out. So, how can you gain a competitive edge?

Like a trusted advisor, this book steers you to the experiences outside the classroom that will help you build your professional portfolio and show prospective employers and graduate school programs that you have the skills they want — researching, writing, public speaking, and statistical reasoning.

Since professional research experience remains the most important avenue for fostering and demonstrating these skills, the authors emphasize ways to get involved in scholarly research, including finding research opportunities, conducting the research, going to scholarly conferences, and presenting findings in papers and talks.

The only book devoted to undergraduate professional skills in psychology, this second edition provides a new overview of the kinds of research experiences you might seek, no matter what type of college you are attending, as well as tips for writing your CV and personal statement, succeeding in classes, and thinking about options after college.

In short, this consummate guide provides all the help you will need to get the most out of your psychology degree.

Table of Contents



  1. Choosing Your Research Focus
  2. Finding Research Opportunities
  3. Succeeding in Your Classes
  4. Getting More Out of Statistics
  5. Finding and Understanding Research Articles
  6. Writing Research Papers
  7. Getting Involved Outside the Lab and Classroom
  8. Attending Academic Conferences
  9. Presenting a Research Poster
  10. Presenting a Research Talk
  11. Making a CV
  12. Writing Personal Statements
  13. Thinking About the World of Work
  14. Understanding Graduate School


Appendix: Good Books for Your Professional Library



About the Authors

Author Bios

Paul J. Silvia, PhD, is a social-personality psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has served as the director of the department's honors program, and he teaches undergraduate courses on creativity, personality, academic writing, and professional skills. His other books include How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (2007) and Exploring the Psychology of Interest (2006).

Peter F. Delaney, PhD, is a cognitive psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and former director of undergraduate studies in the psychology department. He has won several teaching awards and taught thousands of students, and he conducts laboratory research on human memory and learning.

Stuart Marcovitch, PhD, studies cognitive development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was the long-time faculty advisor for Psi Chi — the national honor society for psychology — and has been involved with continuously improving the undergraduate curriculum, especially the statistics and research methods components.

Reviews & Awards
  • 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

This text should be required reading for all psychology majors…It should also be recommended reading for professors!

Undergraduates — whether they are headed to graduate school or straight to the job market — will benefit from this book. Using a professional development approach, the authors offer practical, meaningful, and easy-to-understand advice that unlocks the sometimes hidden world of academic rules and expectations. I look forward to sharing this book with my advisees and research assistants!
—Rachael D. Reavis, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Earlham College, Richmond, IN

Psychology prepares students for so many career paths. Like a good mentor, this book helps students navigate the many opportunities that psychology offers so students are optimally prepared for life after college.
—Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr., PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ; author of Discovering the Scientist Within: Research Methods in Psychology