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:
First, there is a course in statistics, which is often a surprise to new majors. In statistics, students learn about essential tools necessary for making sense of psychological processes.
Second, there is a course in research methods, including an accompanying laboratory. In research methods, students master scientific principles needed to understand the ideas studied in the more advanced courses.
Third, there is a course in general psychology. In general psychology students learn about the different specialties in psychology and some of the things that psychologists have learned in each of those specialties.
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.
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