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Overview

(Bachelor of Science)

Psychology is the systematic and scientific study of behavior and mental processes (e.g., memory, emotion). It seeks to explain how physiological, personal, cultural, social, developmental, and environmental conditions influence thought and action. Research aims to understand, predict, and influence behavior.

In the past century, psychology has moved from being a branch of philosophy to being both an experimental science and an active helping profession.  Likewise, psychologists work in a variety of settings where their expertise in human behavior is applied to increase efficiency, assist in product design, improve work conditions, and more. To quote the American Psychological Association, “In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, ‘the understanding of behavior’ is the enterprise of psychologists” (www.apa.org).

Psychology has developed several specialized sub-areas with foci spanning from the level of the nerve cell to that of society. Although most students complete a General Emphasis in the Psychology Major to maximize the breadth of their exposure to the discipline, to recognize the subject matter diversity in the field, the Psychology major also has three more focused emphases. Students may choose to complete one of the following: (1) Brain, Behavior, and Health; (2) Mental Health; or (3) Development.  Students should speak with an advisor about whether a General or more focused area of emphasis is the right fit for them. 

A strong grasp of psychology also requires knowledge of the approach and content of considered core to the field as a whole.  Students gain this understanding by completing coursework in the primary areas of Psychology: Research Methods, Physiological/Cognitive, Social/Personality, Culture/Gender, and Clinical/Counseling. Students without an emphasis then complete the major by choosing additional courses to meet individual needs with the help of an advisor. Those students who elect to have one of our more focused emphases should still meet frequently with an advisor to discuss career planning and professional development but will have specific upper-level courses to take to meet the emphasis requirements and complete the major.

Regardless of emphasis, the program offers special opportunities for students to strengthen their professional preparation. Psychology faculty frequently work with students on collaborative research projects. Support for advanced student research is enhanced by technology in several research labs. Although all courses are taught by faculty members, undergraduate teaching assistantships allow students to master course content and receive valuable training in the teaching of psychology. Internships are available in a variety of university and community settings.

Psychology helps to deepen understanding of individual and social behavior and provides a strong general background for many careers. Psychology graduates are employed in a variety of positions with social and community service agencies, businesses, research firms, and governmental agencies. Preparation for specialized professional work — such as testing, counseling, university teaching, consulting, and many research activities — usually requires a master’s or doctoral degree. Psychology majors have pursued graduate school in many fields, including psychology sub-disciplines such as experimental, developmental, neuroscience, industrial/organizational, social, clinical, counseling, and school psychology, as well as the related fields of social work, education, medicine, law, and business.

There are many different complementary minors. They vary based on individual interests and future career or educational goals, so students are encouraged to discuss options with an advisor.