Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a major in psychology?

Students who plan to go directly to work after receiving either the B.S. or B.A. degree in psychology rather than pursuing graduate study most often ask this question. Initially, undergraduate training in psychology was intended to be a pre-professional education. That is, students were expected to be interested in pursuing graduate degrees in psychology or related fields. Today, however, many students see the merits of receiving a liberal arts degree, such as one in psychology, but they do not wish to pursue the specific training or specialization that is required for becoming a professional psychologist. And, there are employers who are seeking generalists, students broadly trained in the liberal arts, rather than specialists. Jobs in banking, retailing, personnel, human services, marketing research, and government (to name a few) often seek well-educated students who do not have specific technical training. But psychology majors and others may have to work harder than students with technical training (such as engineers, accountants, nurses) in making themselves marketable. In brief, psychology majors will need to be aware of ways to make their skills known to potential employers. Jobs, many good ones, are available to students who have prepared themselves with a good liberal education and who are also aware of their skills. The Department offers a course, Careers in Psychology, that is oriented toward answering the question "What can I do with a major in psychology;" and in helping students better understand and market their skills.

Should I choose a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.)?

Differences between the two degrees:

Bachelor of Arts

  • Requires completion of one foreign language through the 4th semester (3-12 hours)
  • Courses must be taken to satisfy a minor (10-12 hours) of your choosing
  • Limit of 40 hours of psychology classes

Bachelor of Science

  • No foreign language is required
  • Requires a concentration in one of the areas listed (24 hours- includes an additional math/science beyond the core):
    • Business
    • Health Studies
    • Human Services
    • Natural Sciences
    • Social Sciences
  • No limit on psychology classes

Students often ask how others (graduate schools, employers) will perceive a BA or a BS degree. Ten to fifteen years ago the BA degree was considered the best choice for students pursuing graduate school and the BS degree was the choice for students seeking employment after the undergraduate degree.

Today there is no perceived difference between the two degrees, unless you are considering law school. Some law school programs do have a preference for a foreign language. The required psychology courses are the same for both degree programs. If you are considering a BA, read the complete list of minor options. If you are considering a BS, you must choose one of the five concentration options.

Approximately 22% of all declared psychology majors choose the BA option, and the other 78% choose the BS degree option. Students pursuing a BS with a concentration can also (and often do) choose to complete a minor.

How do I get an advisor in the Department of Psychology?

The current advising system in the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology places students in one of three categories for main registration advising. Newly declared majors are invited to attend a group meeting where important information about the department is shared as well as discussion of the upcoming classes needed.

The second group of students fall into a required advising category. These are declared majors who have 60-80 completed hours (this does not include hours from the current semester). Students in this group are required to schedule an individual advising meeting with an assigned faculty member for registration and career advising.

The final category of students are not required to meet with an advisor for registration. These are students who are not new to the department with fewer than 60 or more than 80 completed hours. This group of students can pick up their advising code from the main office of the Psychology Department. If you are in this category you are more than welcome to meet with a faculty advisor or seek advising from the Psychology Department Undergraduate Advising Center.

All declared majors will receive an e-mail with instructions about upcoming registration advising. The e-mails are sent our just after fall break and just after spring break. It is the responsibility of the student to check e-mails regularly for important information.

Who is my department advisor?

At any time in the semester students can meet with a faculty advisor of a students' choosing or the Psychology Department Advising Center for advising information. Students are highly encouraged to have regular contact with faculty members outside of the classroom to develop strong mentoring relationships. Faculty are there to help students with decisions of employment, graduate school, and other major post-graduation decisions.

If I am getting a BS degree, can I design my own concentration?

Each of the five concentrations has a list of departments students can choose from to develop the 24 hour concentration. Also each concentration requires the completion of an additional math or science. This must be a math or science class different from the courses in the core or from the required statistics class for the major. It is important to remain within that list of departments within each concentration area. Go here for information on the concentration choices.

Do I have to have a C or better in every class to graduate?

No. A student must maintain a 2.0 average in the overall GPA and their major. A 2.0 is not required in a student's minor, with the exception of a minor in business. The Psychology department does require that students must earn a C or better in STT 2810. This means that a grade of C- or lower will require that students re-take the STT 2810 class before being allowed to take PSY 3100 (Research Methods).

Do I need to declare a minor if I am pursuing the BA degree?

Yes. A student can do a minor in any academic field (e.g., Sociology, English, Communications, etc.). However, the minor must be declared by calling 262-3076.

Can I minor in something even if I am pursuing a BS degree?

Yes. A student would still have to declare a minor in addition to the concentration. Courses can be used for both the concentration and the minor (i.e., they can double count).

Can I count more than 40 hours of psychology for graduation?

Yes, if you are receiving a BS degree; No, if you are receiving a BA degree.

How will I know if I have fulfilled all my requirements for graduation?

At least one semester before graduation students will receive a graduation check from the College of Arts and Sciences. This check will be sent to students via campus e-mail. If there are questions concerning the check please come to the Advising Center in the Psychology Department with a copy of your graduation check.

Can I take a foreign language pass/fail?

No. Only general electives can be taken pass/fail (not electives in the major).

Can I change my degree track?

Yes. However, students must make sure that they meet the requirements for the new track (BA or BS).