The bachelor’s programs in psychology provide both a solid basis for graduate training in all areas of psychology and a liberal arts and sciences education to students planning other careers or professions, such as law or business.
The B.A. degree is designed for students whose interests are primarily in the social sciences and humanities. Students consult with their faculty advisers to select the degree program most appropriate to their interests and goals.
Candidates for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology must successfully complete 120 credit hours. The undergraduate psychology degree programs are designed to allow students to customize their coursework to meet their specific interests and needs. Coursework within the psychology major includes a 21 credit hour psychology core and an additional 30 credit hour psychology concentration that includes courses in psychology and other areas that are deemed appropriate to the students’ intellectual goals and interests in psychology. The concentration must be approved by the undergraduate program chair.
A list of concentrations follows the undergraduate psychology program plans in this section.
Courses are offered in the department to facilitate several concentrations: animal learning and behavior, clinical/counseling psychology, forensic psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, neuropsychology, social-cultural and sport psychology. In special cases, students may also design their own concentrations appropriate to pursuing postgraduate education in law, medical fields, business and the experimental fields of psychology. Students are encouraged to pursue minors in other disciplines, such as business administration, communication or biology.
The clinical/counseling concentration exposes students to courses and field placements that emphasize the assessment and treatment of mental and emotional disorders as well as disorders of adjustment and substance abuse. Students interested in pursuing postgraduate study in clinical, counseling or school psychology, or in obtaining employment in a mental health or social service agency after graduation, should study in areas that will familiarize them with these occupations and build basic skills. Such areas of study include substance abuse, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, professional ethics and assessment techniques.
Forensic psychology can be defined as anything that involves the intersection of psychology and the legal system. Some forensic psychologists have a background in clinical psychology and focus on things like assessing people charged with crimes to determine competency to stand trial or whether or not the individual was legally insane at the time of the incident. Other forensic psychologists may focus on research applied to the justice system, studying such topics as eyewitness identification procedures (and errors), police interrogation procedures, police selection and assessment, confessions and false confessions, and jury decision-making, to name a few. Recent students have interned with law enforcement officers, jail staff, attorneys, treatment providers in pretrial diversion treatment programs, child and victim advocates, Federal Bureau of Investigation behavior analysts and researchers in criminology. These internships allow for studies of the impact of interventions and procedures on recidivism, trial outcomes and etiology of criminal behaviors.
Students who plan to enter business directly after graduation, or apply to an MBA program or to a graduate program in personnel or industrial/organizational psychology should select courses in psychology and business that will help define their interests, prepare them for graduate school admission or develop skills. Some useful areas of study include psychology of the workplace, business law, management, human resource management and organizational behavior. Students who choose this concentration are encouraged to add a minor in business administration.
The psychology and technology concentration includes elements of psychology, engineering, computer science and human factors. Areas of study include how technology influences people, how understanding of psychology contributes to design of technologies, and how we can create new technologies. The concentration offers alternative tracks for students more interested in computer science, human factors or engineering. There are few schools that offer undergraduate degrees with this combination of multidisciplinary courses. Upon graduation, students will be competitive in applying to industry jobs as well as graduate school programs in applied psychology, cognitive psychology, applied cognition, engineering psychology, human factors, human-centered design, and more. Postgraduate degree-holders with similar backgrounds have gone on to work at major companies such as Apple®, Microsoft® and Google.
The social-cultural concentration is a good choice for those preparing for graduate school and those interested in social psychology, sociology, social work, business, to name a few. Some internship possibilities include a study-abroad project; work in a local program for minorities; participation in a political action organization or a nonprofit community organization; work at a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in the U.S. or abroad; a volunteer abroad program; or a theoretical research project.
Students looking forward to graduate programs in sport psychology or careers in coaching or training will take courses that are foundational to these pursuits such as physiological psychology, leadership, group behavior and sport psychology, and applied sport psychology. These classroom experiences, combined with practical training and research, give students a view of the various opportunities within this growing field as well as preparation for advanced study or practice. A minor in education is encouraged for those interested in working in secondary education.