Psychologists are fascinated by human (and animal) thinking and behavior in all of its many forms—but we are a diverse lot. Some of us are helpers--clinicians or counselors. We try to help others navigate through their problems.
Some of us are natural scientists. We try to understand and explain basic psychological processes such as how we sense and perceive the physical world, how we remember and solve problems, and how we function in complex social situations. Some of us are a little bit of both—helper plus scientist. These are our passions.
The First Two Years as a Psychology Student
During their first two years, psychology students usually concentrate on general university requirements (such as English, history, and philosophy) and take three very important courses as part of the psychology major or minor:
First, there is a course in general psychology, PSYC 101. In general psychology faculty introduce students to some of the major studies and findings from different areas of psychology.
Second, there is a course in statistics, MATH 121. In statistics students become familiar with the statistical techniques that psychologists use to make sense of their data.
Third, there is a course in research methods called Scientific Principles, PSYC 206. In research methods students will become familiar with the tools that psychological scientists use to study human behavior and cognition. Students will also learn to read original articles and to write in American Psychological Association (APA) style.
This is a special pathway within the psychology major. If you are planning for doctoral level graduate studies this may be a great opportunity for you. The research concentration will give you additional experience in research and data analysis. If you want to enroll in the research concentration here is what you will do:
- First, enroll in the Research Concentration. Use the Declaration of Major form.
- Second, take Research Methods in Psychology and the required laboratory (PSYC 207 and 207L) instead of Scientific Principles of Psychology (PSYC 206).
- Third, take Statistics in Psychology (PSYC 450).
- Fourth, take one of the following:
- Advanced Research Methods in Psychology–Graduate Emphasis, and the required laboratory (PSYC 455 and 455L).
- Behavior Analysis and the required laboratory (PSYC 470 and 470L).
- At least 3 credits of Group Research Topics (PSYC 493) or Individual Research Topics (PSYC 496).
- Fifth, present the results of your research at a local, regional, or national conference.
- Finally, enroll in the Comprehensive Alternate (PSYC 498) for the semester when you present your results at a conference.
The Second Two Years as a Psychology Student
During their second two years psychology students go deeper into the science of psychology. They choose a certain number of courses from each of four clusters. This opportunity to choose from clusters exposes advanced students to a broad range of psychology while allowing them to customize their program to suit their interests and future plans.
Cluster A covers basic psychological processes; and includes courses such as Biological Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Cognition, and Emotion.
Cluster B covers social, developmental, and interpersonal psychology; and includes courses such as Social Psychology, Personality, Child Psychology, and Psychology of Aging.
Cluster C covers applied, clinical, and other types of psychology; and includes courses such as Educational Psychology, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Psychopathology, and Clinical Neuropsychology
Cluster D covers advanced research, theory, and application; and includes courses such as Advanced Research Methods, Psychological Assessment, History and Systems of Psychology, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and Comparative Psychology in Zambia.
The Comprehensive Exam
To graduate with a major in psychology each student must pass a comprehensive exam. There are several way to do this. The most common is to take the Major Fields Test in Psychology and achieve a score at the 45th percentile or higher.
We offer a variety of opportunities for our students to participate in research with a faculty member or to create and conduct their own individual research projects. Gonzaga psychology students have an impressive record of presentations and awards at major national conferences. We are proud of them and the research that they have done.