Psychology

About the Department

Psychology is the study of human thought and behavior. A current assessment of the field of psychology recognizes its application within a wide variety of professions including business, education, law, physical and occupational therapy, medicine, and clinical practice. While acknowledging this breadth of application, the academic discipline of psychology remains strongly wedded to scientific investigation as the fundamental underpinning of psychology and its effective application. Thus, a solid foundation in psychology hinges on an empirically-based understanding of human and animal thought, experience, and behavior. Psychology also has roots in the rational self-reflective capacities of the human mind, in the search for meaning within experience, and in a humanistic concern for others. A comprehensive understanding of the field requires research training, critical analysis of psychological theories and research, and the ethical application of scientific knowledge.

The psychology faculty and curriculum represent many of the major subdisciplines in psychology (e.g., development, clinical, cognition, learning, sensation, perception, biopsychology, personality, social, and industrial-organizational). Lower division courses geared toward majors and non-majors introduce students to psychological theories and ways of knowing within broad content areas. Within the major, students progress through a series of methods, statistics, and laboratory courses and take upper division elective courses to explore selected topics in greater depth. Seminars and independent study courses provide opportunities for students to approach contemporary issues in psychology and to develop the skills of scholarship at a more sophisticated level. Co-curricular opportunities including colloquia, internships, psychology club activities, and faculty-supervised research enhance the major for interested students.

The curriculum in the Department of Psychology meets many of the broad educational goals of the university. It provides opportunities for students to strengthen both the quantitative and verbal aspects of logical thinking and critical analysis. Students develop their written and oral communication skills, consider connections between psychology and other disciplines, and apply psychological concepts to practical problems. Topics within psychology frequently reach students at a personal level, providing the motivation for both intellectual and personal development. Thus, education in psychology helps students appreciate their role within the broader contexts of community, culture, and the world.

Students with a major in Psychology develop

  1. a breadth and depth of understanding of the content of psychology, including familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends within the academic field;
  2. an ability to think scientifically, including constructing arguments, analyzing and interpreting data, reading and critiquing different forms of scientific writing, and evaluating ethical issues and scientific standards;
  3. an ability to express ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, within the discourse of the discipline;
  4. an appreciation for and understanding of multiple perspectives, including socio-cultural, international, and individual differences as well as interdisciplinary and sub-disciplinary connections among different ways of knowing and across basic and applied approaches to the social and natural sciences; and
  5. characteristics valuable for personal development and effective civil engagement, including the abilities to think critically, to work independently as well as collaboratively, to solve problems effectively, to act ethically, and to apply academic knowledge to real-world problems.