The Discipline of Psychology
Psychology is the study of behavior and its relationship to the mind and brain. Because the relationships among mind, brain, and behavior are complex, psychologists have specialized in a number of different areas. Among these are (a) behavioral neuroscientists who study brain mechanisms of learning, memory, emotion, and the impact of biological diseases of the brain, (b) cognitive psychologists who study models of the mind, language, memory, and sensory processes, (c) clinical psychologists who study and treat a variety of behavioral and psychological problems including anxiety disorders, depression, and dysfunctional thought, (d) social psychologists who study the self-concept, relations between social groups, and behavior in social contexts, (e) health psychologists who study the reciprocal relationships among thought, affect, behavior and physical health, and (f) developmental psychologists who study all of these topics with a focus on how persons are impacted by growth and maturity.
The Department of Psychology
With 50 full-time faculty members, the Department of Psychology offers students a broad selection of courses and opportunities for research, internships, and fieldwork. The internationally recognized faculty publish in all areas of basic and applied psychology. Their research is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and other public and private foundations. There is ample opportunity for undergraduate student participation in the more than 40 laboratories run by the faculty.
The department offices and laboratories are located in Tillett Hall (Livingston campus) and the Psychology Building (Busch campus).
The Major in Psychology
The Major in Psychology consists of General Psychology, Quantitative Methods, one Lab course, four Core courses (one each in sub-discipline areas of Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Social Psychology), six psychology electives, and a 400-level psychology course (41 credits total).
We offer more than 30 advanced elective courses, including specialty seminars, covering virtually every area of psychology.
Some students elect to pursue a double major. The most popular companions for psychology are biology and education, but many other combinations are possible and encouraged. Kathryn Ulett (pictured above) graduated in May 2018 with majors in psychology and biological sciences with plans to become a pediatric neurologist.
The Honors Major in Psychology
Students with excellent academic records may plan and conduct their own research project with a faculty member as part of the Honors Major in Psychology. This track requires 47 credits of work in psychology and culminates in a year-long research project that is presented at a spring Honors Poster Session to which parents and the academic community are invited. Students receive awards for the best research proposals and projects as well as earn the BA with Honors in Psychology and Research Scholar in Psychology on their transcripts. Additionally, students often have the opportunity to present this work at national meetings and to publish their work in leading professional journals. These opportunities are excellent credentials for acceptance into graduate school for psychology and related sciences or for other fields such as law, business, medicine and social work.
Psychology majors with high grade-point averages may be elected to Psi Chi, an international honor society in psychology, and may be eligible for special research programs, awards, and graduation honors.
The Minor in Psychology
The minor in Psychology requires 18 credits: General Psychology plus five three-credit Psychology electives.
Opportunities for Independent Work
- Research in Psychology and Advanced Research in Psychology. Students may choose among many laboratory research opportunities in which a student and faculty member collaborate on an in-depth study of specialized topics.
- Fieldwork in Psychology. The department offers three fieldwork experiences for students. For Fieldwork in Child Development, students spend part of the week at the Douglass Psychology Child Study. For Fieldwork in Autism, students work with autistic individuals at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. For Fieldwork in Foster Care, students serve as a mentor for a child or adolescent currently in foster care.
- Internship in Psychology. The Internship in Applied, School and Community Psychology places students in an applied psychology setting including advocacy and self-help organizations, inpatient psychiatric facilities, and public schools.
- Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service. The Collaborative supports service learning and civic engagement by linking students to local, state, and national community organizations.
These opportunities help students clarify career interests and future goals. They also provide excellent opportunities to gain practical experience and references for graduate school or employment..