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Psychology Undergraduate Handbook

Welcome to the study of psychology. This handbook was prepared to acquaint students with the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University and to act as a guide to general and specific information about the department. This handbook covers many of the areas students are most concerned about:


  • Information about the program of study

  • Descriptions of courses the department offers

  • Graduate school preparation

  • Possible careers at the bachelor's level

  • Organizations students can join

  • Departmental faculty and their interests

This handbook covers general information for the undergraduate psychology degree and selected academic regulations. Students should read and consider printing out this handbook. It will help answer many of questions about the department. Students should also familiarize themselves with the other academic regulations that are covered in OSU's catalog.

What is Psychology

Although there are many different specialty areas in psychology, all psychologists have one thing in common - they are all interested in the scientific study of behavior - understanding how people and other organisms develop, learn, think, feel, act, and relate to one another.


Psychologists tend to be involved in one or more of the following general activities: finding new knowledge in the field through research activities; applying their knowledge to the solution of problems of individuals and/or groups; or teaching the body of knowledge to others. In a university setting, psychologists are generally involved in all three.


To give you an idea of the many diverse sub-fields of psychology, listed below are just a few of the specialty divisions of the American Psychological Associations (APA):


  • Aging/Adult Educational Measurement Child/Youth Law

  • Engineering Military Clinical Environment Personality

  • Social Community Experimental Physiological Counseling

  • Religion Rehabilitation Developmental Industrial Organizational

Should you major in Psychology?

Perhaps the best way to find out is to take some psychology courses. For example, Psychology 1113 will provide you with a general introduction to the major areas of psychology. If you find the topics taught in class interesting, maybe psychology is for you. Also, you can talk to psychology majors, psychology graduate students, and faculty members. If further career planning is needed, talk to the people in the Career Services in room 360 & 70 of the Student Union or your academic advisor.


The Psychology Curriculum

At the undergraduate level, the Department of Psychology offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. At the graduate level, the Department of Psychology offers Ph. D. programs in Lifespan Development and Clinical Psychology. The Department of Psychology teaches courses in clinical, cognitive, developmental, experimental, neurobiological, social psychology, and applied areas. Instruction is provided via lecture format, laboratory situations, discussion groups, and in one-to-one mentorship arrangements.


The undergraduate curriculum in psychology follows a liberal arts format. A liberal arts degree is meant to open up the mind and give a person a better understanding of the world. The degree is meant to provide students with a better understanding of how to think, analyze, and express themselves clearly.


When students graduate with their bachelor's degree in psychology, they will not be psychologists. Rather, they will have an greater understanding of human behavior. This knowledge is relevant to many occupations or situations that involve interactions with others. A degree in Psychology can help prepare students for studies in graduate and professional schools. It can also provide students with the aptitude to work with a variety of nontechnical occupations with city, state, or federal agencies and in business or industry sector.


It is not expected that all students will enter the study of psychology with a clear understanding of what their future employment prospects will be. However, students should put some thought into their future career prior to their graduating semester. Later sections of this handbook discuss careers in psychology.


Some psychology majors may wish to prepare themselves to teach in the public schools or to become counselors in elementary or secondary schools. This requires a teaching certificate. For this reason, students wishing a teaching certificate can be best served with a degree from the College of Education.

Educational Preparation

For students entering from high school: Regardless of the degree sought, preparation for higher education begins at the high school level. Please see the OSU Admissions web site for further detail on high school requirements. Students should also explore the variety of career options available to them. Such information can be found in the high school's library and by talking with the high school's counselors.


For students entering from a junior/community college or another 4-year school: Transfer students should issue to OSU official transcripts from the institution(s) previously attended. If the institution is accredited, OSU can accept completed work towards an OSU degree. Determination of how courses transfer is made by the Transfer Credit Department in the Registrar's Office. Students should understand that a course taken at another institution may not count as an OSU course even if the name or number is the same. Additionally, OSU has specific policies about the number of hours from other institutions that can count towards an OSU degree. It is strongly recommended that transfer students work with an advisor while at the other institution and consult with the Department of Psychology's academic advisor about how OSU will transfer credit prior to transferring.


For students returning to OSU: Many people are returning to the university to finish their degrees. It is common to see a wide age range among students in Psychology courses. Some general education courses at OSU are now being offered at night to accommodate returning students who work during the day. In planning classes, returning students should choose a school load (part time or full time) that blends best with their job and family life. Previous college or university work will transfer to OSU and count towards the psychology degree plan. If the returning student has been absent from the higher education for a long period of time, consideration may be given to repeating some courses in order to reacquaint the student with the relevant subject matter. The student should discuss these issues with their academic advisor.


Declaring Psychology as a Major

Upon admittance to OSU, the student should ask to be admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences. Students wishing to declare psychology as their major may do so only after the completion of 12 hours and the completion of Introductory Psychology.


Students who meet the above requirements can advise the Arts and Sciences Office of Student Academic Services in room 213 LSE that they wish to declare Psychology as their major. Students should then make an appointment to review their degree sheet with the psychology undergraduate advisor.


Undergraduate Advising

The Department of Psychology is the  largest population of undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences. The department has a team of  advisors who advise all psychology undergraduate majors. They can help you to understand your transcript and degree plan, review your course selections prior to enrollment, assist you with course changes (dropping or adding a course), describe procedures for schedule changes, assist with declaration of a minor or double major or change in major, and many other items.


The advising office is a busy place. You may be able to see our advising team on a walk-in  basis but we recommend making an appointment.



Enrollment for an upcoming semester is the busiest time in the advising office. All psychology students must see an advisor prior to enrolling in courses. Enrollment advising for the spring semester begins in mid-October, or in mid-March for summer and fall semester. All students should review their degree plans and bring to their appointment a list of courses that they are interested in taking. To facilitate this, course schedules are available online.


The Psychology Degree Sheet

All OSU undergraduate degree sheets are now available online for the B.A. or B.S. in Psychology. The Department of Psychology will mail printed copies of degree sheets upon request. Email Silvia Daggy, Academic Advisor, at call her at 405-744-5543.


Psychology as a Second Major or Minor

Students majoring in another department within the College of Arts and Sciences or in any other college at OSU may choose to work towards a second major or a minor in Psychology.


To complete a second major, the student must complete the general education requirements in the college in which they are registered. In addition, the field of concentration requirements of both majors must be met. If a student plans carefully, she/he can still stay within a minimum number of hours for graduation.


A minor can be earned in psychology by completing 24 hours of psychology prefixed course work and maintaining a 2.0 grade point average. The minor requires the completion of Psych 1113 (Introductory Psychology), 6 hours of upper or lower division Psychology, and 15 hours of upper division (3000 level or above) Psychology. EPSY, CPSY, ABSED or other related types of courses are not applicable.


Academic Policies & Procedures

  1. Any and all unusual cases concerning undergraduate curricula are reported to the academic advisor and the department head.

  2. Sequencing of Math 1513, Psych 3214, and 3914.

    • Math 1513 must be taken before and is a prerequisite for Psych 3214. Students must pass Math 1513 prior to their enrollment in Psych 3214.

    • Psych 3214 must be taken before and is a prerequisite for Psych 3914

  3. Substitutions

    • No hours are substituted or waived without permission of the department head.

    • Students can petition for substitutions of general education courses or departmental requirements. In the case of substitutions for departmental requirements, a written petition must be submitted to the head of the Department of Psychology. Such petitions will be reviewed by the academic advisor and the department head. In some cases, a vote of the department's curriculum committee will be sought.

  4. Special information about the psychology degree plans

    • Only 6 hours of Psych 3990 and 4990 are allowed on degree plans.

    • No more than 48 hours of psychology course work can count towards a psychology degree.

  5. Academic Dishonesty

    The department enforces the OSU Academic Dishonesty Policy. Violations of this policy can lead to serious consequences for the student. Based on the severity of the violation, a professor does have the option of recommending expulsion from the university. Click for a complete explanation of academic policies and students rights and responsibilities.

Applying to Psych 4990

Psych 4990 projects are listed for the upcoming semester. To enroll in a Psych 4990 project, students should:


  1. Obtain a 4990 application form from the undergraduate ddvisor.

  2. Make an appointment to interview with the faculty member who is conducting research of interest.

  3. Bring the Psych 4990 application form to the interview.

  4. The faculty member will decide whether a student is accepted to the 4990 project. If the student is accepted, the faculty member will sign the 4990 clearance form.

  5. The student must give the clearance form to the undergraduate advisor at the time of pre-enrollment. A student will not be able to enroll in 4990 without the clearance form.

Career Opportunities

At the Bachelor's Level

A psychology major who graduates with a B.A. or B.S. leaves with a solid education and adequate preparation for entry-level employment in one of many potential career paths. The undergraduate years are an excellent time for exploring careers through course work, conversations with people who have careers that interest you, internships, and part time jobs. In a recent program review of the department, it was found that approximately 64% of the graduates from the department stopped their education at the bachelor's level. Of these people, 24% were in jobs directly relating to psychology (i. e. social service jobs), and 40% were in jobs not directly relating to psychology (i. e. retail, teaching).


As part of the undergraduate curriculum, there are often opportunities for internships, independent study, and research. Any of these may provide excellent work experience. By the time you graduate with a bachelor's degree, it is possible to have assembled a resume with work experience attractive to employers.


There are numerous employment opportunities for those who choose to finish their education with a bachelor's degree. Community agencies offer employment at the bachelor's level. Community service opportunities include social service positions that involve direct client-professional interaction.


Research careers are available through local state and federal governments, through community agencies and through private industry. In any of these areas, one can be involved in coordination of the research project or in data collection and analysis. Salary ranges average from $12,000 to $28,000. Students who plan to end their college education at the bachelor's level are encouraged to work with the Career Services Office located in 360 Student Union. Students should sign up with the Career Services Office at the beginning of their senior year or two semesters before they graduate. The Career Services Office provides services such as writing a resume, interviewing techniques and also provides job opportunity listings throughout the United States and abroad. Also the department has a booklet (What to do with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology) available for majors applying to jobs at the end of their bachelor's career.


At the Masters Level

People with a Master's degree in Psychology work in a variety of settings, for example schools, businesses, community mental health care centers, public and private institutions, and community colleges. Graduates often obtain jobs in teaching, research, or service. Teachers at the Master's level usually work in community colleges and often on a temporary basis at some of the smaller four year colleges. However, career advancement in some areas is limited without obtaining a doctoral degree. Salaries can range from $20,000 to $30,000 depending on the job type.


At the Doctoral Level

Careers at the Ph.D. level are quite abundant. Doctoral degrees are tickets into many careers including teaching (colleges and universities), research, consulting, directorial and supervisory roles. The key to succeeding at the doctoral level is to enroll in a graduate program which will provide training appropriate to your area of interest. Other criteria for choosing a graduate program include the accreditation of the program, location of the program, and expertise of the faculty. Salaries can range from $30,000 to $60,000 depending on the job.


Areas of Graduate Study

Master's degrees can be obtained in the programs below. The terminal degree in these areas is either a Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D. The better programs in Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychology are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Below are a few of the major areas of study. For those wanting more information about applying to graduate school, the department has a booklet available in print and on-line. It is title How to apply to graduate school: the application process and is available in the undergraduate advisor's office.


Psychology is an extraordinarily diverse field with hundreds of career paths. Some specialties, like treating the mentally ill, are familiar to most of us. Others, like helping with the design of advanced computer systems or studying how we remember things, are less well known.


What all psychologists have in common is a shared interest in mind and behavior, both human and animal. In their work they draw on an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge about how we think, act, and feel, and apply the information to their special areas of expertise. The field of psychology encompasses both research, through which we learn fundamental things about behavior, and practice, through which that knowledge is applied in helping to solve problems. In each of the subfields of psychology, there are individuals who work primarily as researchers, others who work primarily as practitioners, and many who do both.


What follows is a presentation of some of the subfields and areas of concentration in psychology. Under the description of most subfields a publication is cited for specific graduate training programs that are available. For additional information on careers in psychology, please review a brochure by the American Psychological Association (APA). It is titled Psychology/Careers for the twenty-first century and is available online. Another publication of APA is a book called Graduate Study in Psychology available for purchase. This book lists most graduate psychology programs in this country and Canada. It lists the programs by state and has information regarding types of programs offered, admissions criteria, number of students accepted each year, financial aid information, and where to get further information.


Specialties And Areas Of Concentration In Psychology

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists assess and treat people's mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, with these disorders ranging from mild to severe problems. They work in both academic institutions and health care settings such as clinics, community mental health centers, hospitals, prisons, and private practice. Their activities range broadly and include consultation, diagnosis and assessment, research, therapy, and training of graduate students. Many clinical psychologists focus their interests on special populations, such as abused individuals, the elderly, gays and lesbians, and minority groups, for example. Others focus on certain types of problems like adjustment to divorce, depression, eating disorders, phobias, or schizophrenia. They may treat and/or conduct research with children, adolescents and adults. In most states people with bachelor's and master's degrees may not independently practice as clinical psychologists. They may, however, work in clinical settings under the direction of a doctoral-level psychologist. In some cases this work could include testing or supervised therapy. People preparing for careers in clinical psychology should carefully investigate state licensing laws. Admission to clinical programs at the doctoral level is extremely competitive and most programs require 4-5 years plus a year internship. Most clinical psychologists have Ph.D. degrees and have been trained in programs emphasizing a research-practitioner model. Recently, programs have developed that emphasize the practitioner role and grant the Psy.D. degree. This is also a doctoral degree but received from a program that places greater emphasis on training students for professional practice and less on research.

For those specifically interested in clinical psychology, you should consult Norcross, J.C., Sayette, M.A., & Mayne,T.J. (1996). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology. New York: Guilford.


Also recently, graduate programs have developed specific training emphases in clinical child psychology or pediatric psychology. These are subareas of clinical psychology and students with interests in these areas should consult a directory entitled Directory of graduate programs in clinical child/pediatric psychology (1995), compiled by K. Tarnowski and S. Simonian. This is available by writing to Directory of Graduate Programs in Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology, c/o Susan J. Simonian, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, SC, 29424.


Community Psychology

Community psychologists are concerned with everyday behavior in natural settings - the home, the neighborhood, and the workplace. They seek to understand the factors that contribute to normal and abnormal behaviors in these settings. They also work to promote health and prevent disorders. Whereas clinical psychologists tend to focus on individuals who show signs of maladaptive behavior, most community psychologists concentrate their efforts on groups of people who are not mentally ill (but may be at risk of becoming so) or on the population in general.


Counseling Psychology

The primary goal of the field of counseling psychology is to maximize growth in one or more of three life areas: family, work, and education. Counseling psychologists foster and improve human functioning across the life span by helping people solve the problems, make the decisions, and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Counseling psychology is related to clinical psychology but deals less with severe emotional and mental problems and more with the normal individual with personal and career issues. Counseling psychologists often use research to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and to search for novel approaches to assessing problems and changing behavior. Many counseling psychologists work in academic settings helping students adjust to college, and providing vocational and career assessment and guidance. An increasing number are being employed in health care institutions, such as community mental health centers, Veterans Administrations hospitals, and private clinics dealing with issues such as drug abuse, eating disorders, family adjustment issues, smoking, etc. Positions in counseling often require the doctorate degree, but positions for those with master's degrees are often found in educational institutions, clinics, business, industry, government, and other human services agencies.


For students interested in counseling psychology, Norcross, J.C., Sayette, M.A., & Mayne, T.J. (1996). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology. New York: Guilford should be consulted.


Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists study human development across the life span, from prenatal development to adulthood and old age. They are interested in the description, measurement, and explanation of age-related changes in behaviors such as aggression, moral development, language development, perception and cognition, stages of emotional development, universal traits and individual differences, and abnormal changes in development. Many doctoral-level developmental psychologists are employed in academic settings, teaching and doing research. Persons with bachelor's and master's level training in developmental psychology work in applied settings such as day care centers and youth group programs, work with toy companies, parent education programs, hospital and child life programs, and museums, and evaluate educational television. More recently, developmental psychologists are found working with the aging population, especially in researching and developing ways to help elderly people stay as independent as possible.


Interested students should consult the following publication for further academic training: Gordon, R.A. & Chase-Lansdale, P.L. (1995). A resource guide to careers in child and family policy:Revised and expanded edition. This is available at the following address: Careers in Child and Family Policy, Harris School, University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th St., Chicago, IL, 60637 (312) 702-8400.


Educational Psychology

Educational psychologists study how people learn. They design the methods and materials used to educate people of all ages. Many educational psychologists have a Ph.D. and work in universities, in both psychology departments and schools of education. Some conduct basic research on topics related to the learning of reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Others develop new methods of instruction including designing computer software. Still others train teachers and investigate factors that affect teachers' performance and morale. Educational psychologists conduct research in schools as well as in federal, state, and local educational agencies. They may be employed by governmental agencies or the corporate sector to analyze employees' skills and to design and implement training programs. Recently, industry and the military have been offering more opportunities for people with doctoral degrees who can design and evaluate systems to teach complex skills.

Those interested in graduate training in this area can find information in a resource entitled Graduate study in educational and psychological measurement, quantitative psychology, and related fields available from Linda Collins at the Center for Developmental and Health Research Methodology, S-159 Henderson Bldg., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802.


Experimental Psychology

"Experimental psychologist" is a general title applied to a diverse group of psychologists who conduct research on and often teach about a variety of basic behavioral processes. These processes may include learning, sensation, perception, human performance, motivation, memory, language, thinking, and communication as well as the physiological processes underlying behaviors such as eating, reading, and problem solving. Most experimental psychologists work in academic settings, teaching courses and supervising students' research in addition to conducting their own research work. Experimental psychologists are also employed by research institutions, business, industry, and government. A research-oriented doctoral degree is usually needed for advancement and mobility in experimental psychology. The education of experimental psychologists includes coursework in research design and methodology, statistical analysis and quantitative methods, and broad-based exposure to the major content areas in psychology, especially those related to the individual psychologist's areas of research interest.


Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology is the term given to the applied and clinical facets of psychology and law. Psychology and law is a new field with career opportunities at several levels of training. As an area of research, psychology and law is concerned both with looking at legal issues from a psychological perspective (e.g., how juries decide cases) and with looking at psychological questions in a legal context (how jurors assign blame or responsibility for a crime).


Forensic psychologists might help a judge decide which parent should have custody of the children or evaluate the victim of an accident to determine if he or she sustained psychological or neurological damage. In criminal cases, forensic psychologists might evaluate a defendant's mental competence to stand trial. Some forensic psychologists counsel inmates and probationers; others counsel the victims of crimes and help them prepare to testify, cope with emotional distress, and resume their normal activities. Some specialists in this field have doctoral degrees in both psychology and law. Others were trained in a traditional graduate psychology program, such as clinical, counseling, social, or experimental, and chose courses, research topics, and practical experiences to fit their interest in psychology and law. Today, a few graduate schools have joint law/psychology programs and grant the Ph.D. and J.D. Jobs for people with doctoral degrees are available in psychology departments, law schools, research organizations, community mental health agencies, law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional settings. Some forensic psychologists work in private practice. Master's and bachelor's level positions are available in prisons, correctional institutions, probation departments, forensic units of mental institutions, law enforcement agencies, and community based programs that assist victims.


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial/organizational psychologists are concerned with relations between people and work. Their interests include organizational structure and organizational change; workers' productivity and job satisfaction; consumer behavior; selection, placement, training, and development of personnel. I/O psychologists work in businesses, industries, governments, and educational institutions. Some may be self-employed as consultants or work for management counseling firms.


Consumer psychologists are industrial/organizational psychologists whose interests lie in consumers' reaction to a company's products or services. They investigate consumers' preferences for a particular package design or television commercial, for example, and develop strategies for marketing products. They also try to improve the acceptability and safety of products and help the consumer make better decisions.


Human resource psychologists are industrial/organizational psychologists who develop and validate procedures to select and evaluate personnel. Jobs for industrial/organizational psychologists are available at both master's and doctoral levels. Opportunities for those with master's degrees tend to be concentrated in business, industry, and government settings; doctoral-level psychologists may work in academic settings and do independent consulting work.


A listing of graduate training programs in industrial and organizational psychology, organizational behavior, human resources, and related fields can be found in Graduate training programs in industrial/organizational psychology and related fields published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology at 745 Haskins Road, Suite A, P.O. Box 87, Bowling Green, OH 43402 (419) 353-0032. [Also available here]


Neuropsychology and Psychobiology

Psychobiologists and neuropsychologists investigate the relation between physical systems and behavior. Topics they study include the relation of specific biochemical mechanisms in the brain to behavior; the relation of brain structure to function; and the chemical and physical changes that occur in the body when we experience different emotions. Neuropsychologists also diagnose and treat disturbances related to suspected dysfunctions of the central nervous system and treat patients by teaching them new ways to acquire and process information - a technique known as cognitive retraining. Clinical neuropsychologists work in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, and pediatric units of hospitals and clinics. They also work in academic settings where they conduct research and train other neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, and medical doctors. Most positions in neuropsychology and biopsychology are at the doctoral level; many require postdoctoral training.


For a listing of related programs in the neurosciences, the interested student should consult: Neuroscience training programs in North America, available for $25.00 from the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs, c/o The Society of Neuroscience, 11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036 (202) 328-9713.


Psychology of Aging (Geropsychology)

Researchers in the psychology of aging (geropsychology) draw on sociology, biology, and other disciplines as well as psychology to study the factors associated with adult development and aging. Many people interested in the psychology of aging are trained in a more traditional graduate program in psychology, such as experimental, clinical, developmental, or social. While they are enrolled in such a program, they become geropsychologists by focusing their research, course work, and practical experiences on adult development and aging. A doctorate is normally required for teaching, research, and clinical practice, but an increasing number of employment opportunities are becoming available for people with associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. These positions typically involve the supervised provision of services to adults in nursing homes, senior citizens centers, or state and local government offices for elderly.


Psychology of Women

The psychology of women is the study of psychological and social factors affecting women's development and behavior. Psychologists focusing on the psychology of women are found in a variety of academic and clinical settings. Most psychologists whose concern is the psychology of women have received their training in clinical, developmental, or social psychology, or in psychobiology, pursuing their special interest within these broader areas. Teaching positions for doctoral level psychologists are available in psychology and women's studies departments. Researchers who focus on health issues for women have been hired as faculty members in nursing, public health, social work, or psychiatry departments of universities. Clinicians may choose to work in mental health centers and in private practice.


Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology

Psychometric and quantitative psychologists are concerned with the methods and techniques used in acquiring and applying psychological knowledge. A psychometrician may revise old intelligence, personality, and aptitude tests or devise new ones. These tests might be used in clinical, counseling, and school settings or in business and industry. Other quantitative psychologists might assist a researcher in psychology or another field in designing and interpreting the results of an experiment. Psychometricians and quantitative psychologists are well trained in mathematics, statistics, and computer programming and technology. Doctoral-level psychometricians and quantitative psychologists are employed mainly by universities and colleges, testing companies, private research firms, and government agencies. Those with master's degrees often work for testing companies and private research firms.


Those interested in graduate training in this area can find information in a resource entitled Graduate Study in Educational and Psychological Measurement, Quantitative Psychology, and Related Fields available from Linda Collins at the Center for Developmental and Health Research Methodology, S-159 Henderson Bldg., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802.


School Psychology

School psychologists help educators and others promote the intellectual, social, and emotional development of children. They are also involved in creating environments that facilitate learning and mental health. They may plan and evaluate programs for children with special needs or deal with less severe problems such as disruptive behavior in the classroom. They sometimes engage in program development and staff consultation to prevent school problems. They also provide on-the-job training for teachers in classroom management, consult with parents and teachers on ways to support a child's efforts in school, and consult with school administrators on a variety of psychological and educational issues. To be employed in the public schools of a given state, school psychologists must have completed a state-approved training program (or the equivalent) and be certified by the state. Certification as a school psychologist can usually be obtained after 60 hours of graduate work and a one-year supervised internship. School psychologists trained at the doctoral level often find employment in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, university training programs, mental health clinics, and other agencies. The doctoral-level school psychologist has more research and evaluation training as well as more in-depth clinical and consultative training.


Social Psychology

Social psychologists study how people interact with each other and how they are affected by their social environments. They study individuals as well as groups, observable behaviors, and private thoughts. Topics of interest to social psychologists include the formation of attitudes and attitude change, individual and group decision making, attraction between people such as friendship and love, prejudice, personality and social development, group dynamics, and violence and aggression. Social psychologists can be found in a wide variety of academic settings, and, increasingly, in many nonacademic settings. For example, many social psychologists have found employment in advertising agencies, corporations, hospitals, educational institutions, and architectural and engineering firms as researchers, consultants, evaluators, and personnel managers. As with experimental psychology, a research-oriented doctoral degree is usually necessary in social psychology.


Sports Psychology

Sports psychologists apply psychological methods and knowledge to the study and modification of the behavior and mental processes of people involved in sports. These psychologists generally perform three primary roles, namely teaching, research, and practice. Generally, sports psychologists are trained within the field of clinical or counseling psychology and physical education. Opportunities for sports psychologists include counseling in a sports medicine clinic or with a professional sports team, research in an academic setting involving student athletes, and developing enhancement programs for athletes. Most opportunities are available to psychologists with doctoral degrees. However, master's level sports psychologists may find opportunities in health care settings working in health promotion and rehabilitation programs.

The interested student should consult: Sachs, M.L., Burke, K.L. & Butcher, L.A. (1995). Directory of graduate programs in applied sport psychology. This is an excellent resource on over 100 master's and doctoral degree programs in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa. It is available from Fitness Information Technology, Inc., P.O. Box 4425, University Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26504.


There are many other areas of study in psychology with sub fields. Students are encouraged to talk with graduate students and faculty in the department about their interests. Also, the following books act as excellent resources for students considering a graduate degree in psychology. These books are available in the OSU Library or the undergraduate advisor.


Tretz, Bruce, R. & Stang, D, J. (1980). Preparing for Graduate Study: Not for Seniors Only! Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Mayne, Tracy, J., Norcross, John, C., & Sayette, Michael, A. (1996). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology. New York: Guilford.


Getting in: A step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology. (1994). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Graduate Study in Psychology and Associated Fields , published by the American Psychological Association.


Peterson's Graduate Programs in Humanities & Social Sciences, published by Peterson's Guides.


Graduate School Preparation

The following represents a sampling of the information needed for graduate school preparation. For those wanting more information about applying to graduate school, the department has a booklet available in print and on-line. It is entitled How to Apply to Graduate School: the application process and is available in the undergraduate advisor's office.


All or most graduate programs will evaluate your possible admission on the following:


  1. Grades: Overall GPA and GPA in the major field of study is very important. A minimum of 2.75 GPA with strong, high grades in core psychology and quantitative areas is highly recommended.

  2. Quantitative Skills: The more you learn about analytical areas (math, computer science, statistics), the better suited you will be for graduate school.

  3. Research: Good writing and research skills are a necessity. For this reason, English 3323 (technical writing) and Psych 4990 (research) are curriculum requirements on some degree routes.

  4. Graduate Record Exam: Many graduate schools require that a student take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) aptitude test. Some will also accept the Millers Analogy Test (MAT). Some expect that the GRE Psychology Subject Test also be taken. These tests are given several times each year through the University Testing and Evaluation office (located at 111 North Murray). A strong GRE score will enhance the possibility of admittance into a graduate program. For example, over the years the average GRE score for students admitted into the OSU Clinical program has been between 1100 to 1300 for combined verbal and quantitative scores.


To increase your chance of acceptance into graduate school, you may wish to participate in several of the activities listed below.


  1. Departmental Paper Competition

    In an effort to increase students research skills, the Psychology Department's faculty sponsors an annual research paper competition (with cash prizes). Winning such an award would certainly be a plus for those who are graduate school bound.

  2. Oklahoma Psychological Association Competition 

    The OPA sponsors student research poster and paper competitions. Such evidence of student research activity can be impressive on a graduate application form.

  3. Other Activities Expected

    If you are wishing to continue graduate study in Clinical or Counseling Psychology, you will need evidence of working with people through volunteer work, or work with community agencies or hospitals.

Some Helpful Hints

  1. At the start of the junior year, students should begin selecting potential graduate schools, and writing to the schools requesting information/application materials. There are many programs in many states from which a student can choose. Starting the search by the junior year ensures that you will have completed the required courses for the graduate programs to which you apply (some programs require specific undergraduate courses to be completed by the time of application).To assist the student in the search for appropriate programs, the Psychology department maintains a file of programs offered in the U. S. and abroad. These files are currently located in room 219 of North Murray. Students are welcome and encouraged to browse through the information.

  2. The student should prepare for the GRE. Study guides are available in local bookstores. For the general aptitude test, a review of algebra would also be helpful. Structured prep courses are also a good option, although they can be expensive. The GRE will be a computerized test after April, 1999. It is available at the University Testing Center, room 111 North Murray Hall.

  3. The student should prepare for the GRE. Study guides are available in local bookstores. For the general aptitude test, a review of algebra would also be helpful. Structured prep courses are also a good option, although they can be expensive. The GRE will be a computerized test after April, 1999. It is available at the University Testing Center, room 111 North Murray Hall.

  4. Get to know the faculty in the Department of Psychology. The better a faculty member knows you, the better she/he will be able to write a convincing letter of reference for your job applications or graduate/professional school applications. Enrollment in Psych 4990 will also likely lead to better knowing faculty members.

  5. Some students may want to consider working on a thesis. This work provides excellent exposure to the research expected of a graduate student. Students interested should discuss the work involved with a faculty member.

Psychology Organizations

Psychology Club

Psychology Club is a student-run organization whose purpose is the advancement of the science of psychology. Monthly chapter programs are designed to augment and enhance the regular Departmental curriculum. Guest speakers provide insight into the various areas of psychology. The Club also hosts social functions that allow students and faculty to interact on an informal basis. Get-togethers include the annual Departmental Honors and Awards Banquet, which is held during the spring semester. In addition, the Psychology Club sponsors fund-raisers throughout the year; the money earned provides undergraduate scholarships each year. Membership in the Psychology Club is $10 per year and is open to all psychology students. The club boasts an annual membership of around 100 students. Dr. Melanie Page serves as faculty advisor and Silvia Daggy serves as the support advisor. Membership applications are available from Silvia Frutos, or on the Web.


Psi Chi Honor Society

Psi Chi is the national honor society in psychology. Membership is by invitation only. Psi Chi is an affiliate of the American Psychological Association and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies. Minimum qualifications include a 3.0 overall GPA in your major, high standards of personal behavior, and completion of 9 hours of psychology course work. Invitations to join are sent during the Fall semester, with initiation held during the Psychology Honors and Awards Banquet.


Additional Sources of Information

Careers in Psychology is a 28-page booklet which contains a variety of psychology options. To receive a copy, write to:


American Psychological Association
Order Department
1200 Seventeenth St. N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20036

Graduate Training Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior is a 33-page booklet which contains information for those students interested in a career in industrial/organizational psychology. To receive a copy, write to:


The Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 200742

Other books available in the OSU Library or from the academic advisor include:

Tretz, Bruce, R. & Stang, D, J. (1980). Preparing for Graduate Study: Not for Seniors Only! Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Mayne, Tracy, J., Norcross, John, C., & Sayette, Michael, A. (1994). Insider's guide to graduate programs in clinical psychology. New York: Guilford.

Getting in: A step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology. (1994). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Woods, Paul, J. (Ed). (1976). Career opportunities for psychologists: Expanding and emerging areas. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Woods, Paul, J. (Ed). (1987). Is Psychology the major for you? Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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