Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes, as well as the application of knowledge gained through that science.
What is psychology?
Psychology attempts to develop theories on the basis of careful description and experimentation, and then to apply that scientific information in useful ways. Its domain is wonderfully diverse, including everything from rats learning mazes to athletes using mental imagery, from pathological conditions to healthy development, from the physiology of hunger to the dynamics of organizational behavior, from intelligence testing to relaxation techniques, and much more.
What are the career opportunities?
Persons with degrees in psychology are employed in a wide variety of roles, including the following:
- clinicians and counselors
- human service workers
- educational and school psychologists
- industrial and organizational psychologists
- human factors engineers
- developmental psychologists
- social and personality psychologists
- environmental psychologists
- forensic psychologists
Do I need a master's degree?
A bachelor's degree in psychology is respected by many business employers because it says the graduate has studied human behavior in ways that other degrees may not offer. The bachelor's degree also qualifies you for many entry-level positions in mental health services. It is also true, though, that when individuals go on to earn postgraduate degrees they typically increase their earning power.
Graduate school -- the master's degree and especially the doctorate -- opens up careers with greater opportunities for advancement. Each year the psychology department has a number of students accepted into master's and doctoral programs.
What courses must I take?
The psychology department structures its courses into three Goal Categories: Knowledge Base, Skills/Careers, and Social Awareness. You are required to take courses from each category along with courses to satisfy psychology electives and free electives, which you may select from the full range of offerings. Thirty-nine credits in psychology are required, but most majors take more. You must also satisfy the university's general education requirements.
A faculty advisor will help you choose among the many courses offered to find the ones that meet your particular needs.
Who will be my faculty advisor?
As a Shippensburg psychology major, you can choose your advisor based on the faculty member's areas of interest and yours.
All of the professors in the department have doctoral degrees and are trained researchers. A number have also worked in applied settings. Our faculty's areas of interest include:
- prosocial behaviors and gender
- personality theories
- impact of computers and technology
- crisis intervention and suicide prevention
- risk-taking behaviors
- jury decision making
- biobehavioral effects of alcohol
- flavor preferences
- at-risk children and teenage mothers
- autism and development disabilities
- death anxiety and aging
What are the research opportunities?
Our department's research interests are diverse. Students have unique access to these research opportunities through our student/faculty research program.
Students may earn academic credits by getting involved in research, and a number of our students present their work at national and international meetings each year. These opportunities are especially valuable for those interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in psychology or related fields. Most schools offering traditional doctoral degrees are research-intensive places and are highly competitive. There may be 400 applicants for just a few positions!
What about learning outside the classroom?
The department has an active internship program that allows students to earn 3 to 6 credits outside the university setting. The student finds a position with an agency that provides supervised experience in an area related to psychology. Then, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, he or she writes an academic paper concerning the experience. Internship experience can be a very valuable addition to your resume or graduate school application. Our graduates often comment that their internship was their most useful and most enjoyable college experience.
Some courses have Service Learning Project components that have students working on problem-solving initiatives in the community.
Is there an honors program?
Psychology majors may choose to complete their department degree requirements with an honors designation. This is an excellent opportunity for good students to gain valuable expertise. Completion of Honors in Psychology demonstrates to graduate program admissions committees and future employers that you have special experience, motivation, and ability to succeed in the field of psychology. If you meet the criteria for participation and you are a dedicated student of psychology, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.
What student organizations are there?
Within the department, students have organized a Psychology Club where the new major can find the best and brightest of his or her peers. The Psychology Club welcomes and appreciates new students becoming involved. Many interesting activities are offered by the club, including travel to conferences, speeches by well-known psychologists, visits to other campuses, and social events. Membership in to the local chapter of Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society, is also available to students meeting the necessary GPA requirements.
Why study psychology at Shippensburg?
We have an energetic department with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. We offer high-quality research, internship, and service-learning opportunities. We have a broad selection of courses and keep our classroom sizes small, especially in advanced classes and classes for majors. We offer quality and small-school personalized attention.