- What Psychology Courses are required for a Psychology major?
- What is the recommended timetable for an entering freshman who is prepared to take college-level mathematics courses?
- What is the recommended timetable for an entering freshman who must take remedial mathematics courses?
- What is the recommended timetable for a transfer student who entering as a junior after completing an Associate’s Degree?
- I’m currently working on my Associate’s Degree. What are the advantages and disadvantages of transferring now vs. after I finish my degree?
- What courses transfer from community colleges?
- What courses transfer from other universities?
- What courses are required for a Psychology minor?
- Does PSY 222 – Human Development count for a major or minor?
- What are my options for a Practicum experience?
- Are there any suggested minors for those majoring in Psychology?
- How do I prepare for a career as an Applied Behavior Analyst?
- How do I prepare for a career as a Psychiatrist?
- How do I prepare for a career as a Counselor?
- Are there any courses which can help me prepare for applying to graduate school?
- What if I don’t know what I want to do in psychology?
- Does a bachelor’s degree in psychology only prepare me for graduate school in psychology?
- What do I have to do to graduate in Psychology?
- What if I have more questions?
What Psychology Courses are required for a Psychology major?
- Required Courses are PSY 201, PSY 205, PSY 220, PSY 221, PSY 300, PSY 310, and PSY 450. Note that most of these are taken as a sequence and, thus, you must plan five semesters to complete your required coursework.
- Two Courses from PSY “A” electives (PSY 323, 327, 330, 335, and 350); two Courses from PSY “B” electives (PSY 363, 400, 408, 415, 423, 425, 436, and 444); one Course from PSY “C” electives (PSY 305, 337, 352, 355, 380, 399, 403, 412, 413, 414, 430, 433, 460-499), and one additional psychology course from those listed above. (Note some new courses may not be listed above. For example - Psychological Testing and Psychology of Emotion count as a "C" elective and Human Memory counts as a "B" elective. If you have questions, ask your advisor).
- We recommend that you complete a practicum or research experience as part of your psychology degree, but it is not required. Practicums and research experience may be taken for credit as a PSY “C” elective, although you can volunteer for some experiences if you do not want to take them for course credit.
What is the recommended timetable for an entering freshman who is prepared to take college-level mathematics courses?
- Fall Freshman Year: PSY 201, PSY 205, MS 108 or MS 112 (or higher if you place into a higher mathematics course), general education
- Spring Freshman Year: PSY 220, PSY 221, MS 204 (or higher if you place into a higher mathematics course), general education
- Fall Sophomore Year: PSY 300, general education
- Spring Sophomore Year: PSY 310, general education
- Fall Junior Year: PSY electives, required minor courses, general education
- Spring Junior Year: PSY electives, required minor courses, practicum/research
- Fall Senior Year: PSY 450, PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
- Spring Senior Year: PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
What is the recommended timetable for an entering freshman who must take remedial mathematics courses?
If you place into MS 100:
- Fall Freshman Year: PSY 201, PSY 205, MS 100, general education
- Spring Freshman Year: PSY 220, PSY 221, MS 108 or 112, general education
- Fall Sophomore Year: MS 204, general education
- Spring Sophomore Year: PSY 300, general education
- Fall Junior Year: PSY 310, required minor courses, elective minor courses
- Spring Junior Year: PSY electives, required minor courses
- Fall Senior Year: PSY 450, PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
- Spring Senior Year: PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
If you place into MS 098:
- Fall Freshman Year: PSY 201, PSY 205, MS 098, general education
- Spring Freshman Year: PSY 220, PSY 221, MS 100, general education
- Fall Sophomore Year: MS 108 or MS 112, general education
- Spring Sophomore Year: MS 204, general education
- Fall Junior Year: PSY 300, required minor courses, minor electives
- Spring Junior Year: PSY 310, required minor courses, minor electives
- Fall Senior Year: PSY 450, PSY electives
- Spring Senior Year: PSY electives, practicum/research
What is the recommended timetable for a transfer student who is entering as a junior after completing an Associate’s Degree?
Although it is possible to complete a degree in two years, many students will find that it is difficult to do so because of the required course sequencing (the four required courses plus lab must be registered for and passed each semester in order to stay on schedule), and the desire to fit in practicums/research experience. The following schedule is developed for students that have already completed PSY 201 at a community college.
- Fall Junior Year: PSY 220, PSY 221, MS 204 (if you have not taken two college-level mathematics courses) PSY electives, required minor courses
- Spring Junior Year: PSY 300, PSY electives, required minor courses
- Fall Senior Year: PSY 310, PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
- Spring Senior Year: PSY 450, PSY electives, minor electives, practicum/research
I’m currently working on my Associate’s Degree. What are the advantages and disadvantages of transferring now vs. after I finish my degree?
Advantages of Transferring Now
- You will not be as rushed to finish your coursework and can take the required courses earlier in your career and focus on the electives later.
- You will have more opportunities to take interesting elective courses that are not offered regularly.
- You will have the ability to drop a required course and still stay on schedule to graduate on time.
- You will have more opportunities to participate in practicums and research experiences that will make you more competitive for jobs and graduate school.
- You will get to know your professors better, which will give you the opportunity to have stronger letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate school.
- You can become more involved in the student community at JSU and join various clubs (like Psychology Club), intramural sports, etc. This will help you feel more connected to JSU and the other students.
- Your degree will be more highly valued if you complete the majority of your classes at a university.
- You will have more time to transition into the university setting with easier general education courses, rather than starting out with the more difficult upper-level courses (and risk having lower grades in the courses that really count).
- Once you complete a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree is not highly valued and, thus, it is not useful to stay and complete the degree if you are fairly sure you will finish a bachelor’s degree.
Disadvantages of Transferring Now
- The major disadvantage of transferring now is cost. Most community colleges have lower tuition than JSU.
What courses transfer from community colleges?
All of your general education courses from the community college will transfer, as per the STARS agreement. Within psychology, only PSY 201 – Principles of Psychology, and PSY 222 – Human Development will transfer. Abnormal psychology or other electives taken at a community college will not count as part of your psychology coursework at JSU.
What courses transfer from other universities?
- For new transfer students this is worked out on a case-by-case basis with the registrar. The registrar will make an initial evaluation of your transcript when you are admitted to the university. However, if you think that a course you took somewhere else should be counted as an equivalent course, contact Dr. Dempsey, the Psychology Undergraduate Program Coordinator and she will work with you to determine if the course is equivalent.
- Similarly, if you want to take a course from another university to substitute for one of our courses, you will need a transient letter from the registrar’s office and approval from Dr. Dempsey and the Psychology Department Chair before you take the course.
What courses are required for a Psychology minor?
The requirements for the minor are 19 hours of psychology, including PSY 220 and PSY 221 (PSY 201 is a prerequisite for these courses). Students must take a minimum of three credits from Group A: PSY 323, 327, 330, 335, and 350; a minimum of three credits from Group B: PSY 363, 400, 415, 423, 425, 436, and 444, and a minimum of three credits from Group C: PSY 305, 337, 352, 355, 380, 399, 412, 413, 430, 433, 460-499. Students must also take six credits of electives chosen from any of the courses listed above.
Does PSY 222 – Human Development count for a major or minor?
No, this course only counts as a general education course for those students that are not majoring or minoring in psychology.
What are my options for a Practicum experience?
- PSY 460, 461 – Instructional Practicum. In this practicum you would serve as a teaching assistant for an instructor in a course in which you received an “A” (or maybe a high “B”). Most common courses that need assistants are PSY 201, PSY 300, or PSY 310, although you may ask any professor if they would like to mentor you as a teaching assistant. Your common duties would include leading a lab component, marking papers, or helping to prepare course materials.
- PSY 480, 481 – Community Practicum. In this practicum you would contact a community agency to see if you could volunteer your services. The Psychology Office (AH 202) contains a list of organizations where students have typically volunteered. (Note that it may not be possible to volunteer in some places because of confidentiality issues.) Dr. Paige McKerchar typically serves as the faculty advisor for these practicums, and you may contact her for more information.
- PSY 485, 486 – Applied Behavior Analysis Practicum. In this practicum you will be applying behavior analysis principles (those learned in courses such as PSY 220 and PSY 363) to a real-world setting. One of the common practicums is at the Little Tree Preschool working with preschoolers with autism or other developmental disabilities. Other students volunteer at the Learning Tree working with children and adolescents with autism or other developmental disabilities. Dr. Paige McKerchar typically serves as the supervisor for these practicums. Another option is to work with the summer program at JSU called EXSEL, which aims to increase reading and math skills for freshmen entering college with severe deficits.
- PSY 490, 491 – Individual Research. In this practicum you will work with a faculty member, and possibly other students, to work on a research project. Faculty are always engaged in a variety of research projects and are often seeking students to help them with a variety of tasks, such as reading literature in a field, developing new projects, collecting data, entering data, and so forth. For those students that are especially dedicated, these contributions can result in a conference presentation or even a publication in a psychology journal. There is no one faculty member who supervises research – if you are interested in this practicum, you should read the biographies of each faculty member in the department and then contact the faculty member with whom your interests most closely align. Note that there may not be a faculty member who does research in exactly the same area you are interested in, but it is still good to get research experience in any field before you apply to graduate programs in psychology.
- PSY 498, 499 – Honors Thesis. For those students that are highly motivated, the honors thesis option allows them to stand out above the crowd in their graduate applications. These students typically complete an entire research project from start to finish and write up an APA-style paper that details their findings. These students usually work more independently than students enrolled in Individual Research.
Are there any suggested minors for those majoring in Psychology?
There are no specific minors that are suggested for psychology. For those students who want a competitive application for graduate school, typically minoring in math or science is preferred (e.g., Math, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics). Other common minors include Gerontology, Child Development, Sociology, English, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, and Forensics.
How do I prepare for a career as an Applied Behavior Analyst?
There are two levels of certification as an Applied Behavior Analyst. One is a BCaBA, which is for students with undergraduate coursework and experience in behavior analysis. The other is a BCBA, which is for those with master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis. See the Behavior Analyst Certification Board for more details.
- For the BCaBA, we do not yet have a pre-approved coursework sequence which will automatically qualify you for this certification. Thus, you need to work with your advisor to develop an appropriate course sequence that will prepare you for certification. In general, we recommend that you take courses such as PSY 220, PSY 221, PSY 310, PSY 363, and either PSY 425 or PSY 444, along with PSY 485 and PSY 486.
- For those interested in the BCBA certification, please see our graduate program in Applied Psychology that offers a pre-approved behavior analysis course sequence. For those looking to prepare themselves for the undergraduate program, we suggest you take the core psychology courses (PSY 201, 220, 221, 300, 310, 450), and at least PSY 363 and one ABA practicum (PSY 485, 486). Grades in these courses will be more heavily weighted in the graduate admissions process than grades in other psychology courses.
How do I prepare for a career as a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D.s) that specialize in mental disorders. Thus, you must take the Pre-Med curriculum (see an advisor in the Biology department) to prepare you for medical school. This includes Calculus, Biology, Chemistry (including Organic Chemistry), and Physics. Psychology is not required at the undergraduate level, although many students choose to take a few psychology classes as part of their Pre-med curriculum, minor in psychology, or even double major in psychology.
How do I prepare for a career as a Counselor?
- Counseling in a master’s level degree – there is no undergraduate degree in counseling. If you want to be a community/agency counselor (working with individuals or psychological agencies), then psychology is a good undergraduate degree to help you prepare for graduate coursework. When you are searching for graduate programs, be sure to note that counseling falls under many departments and has many names (community counseling, psychological counseling, clinical mental health counseling, agency counseling, etc. and they are found in both Psychology Departments and Colleges of Education).
- If you want to be a school counselor (working in an elementary or high school with students), the path is more varied. Some programs (including JSU’s) require that you have a bachelor’s degree in a teaching field (elementary education or secondary education) and several years of teaching experience in a school. Other programs will let you have a degree in a non-teaching field (like psychology) and then get a graduate degree in school counseling. Make sure you carefully research the programs you are interested in to see what the requirements are.
Are there any courses that can help me prepare for applying to graduate school?
PSY 305 – Professional Psychology is typically offered in the summer; the primary goal of this course is to help students prepare for graduate school admissions. This course is best taken in summer before your junior year, although many students take it the summer before their senior year. In this course you will choose graduate programs that interest you, research their faculty members, and read articles written by their faculty, prepare your curriculum vita and letters of intent, learn how to ask faculty members for letters of recommendation, and prepare for interviews. This course should only be taken by students that wish to go to graduate school in psychology or a closely related field (e.g., counseling).
What if I don’t know what I want to do in psychology?
The best option in this case is do some digging on the internet. One of the best places to start is the American Psychological Association. They have lots of information on PsycCareers, including information on the many different subfields of psychology. Try to search terms on the internet that sound like the job you want. See if someone out there is doing what interests you. Then, talk to faculty members (particularly your advisor or PSY 205 instructor) about what you find and see if they have any helpful suggestions. There are many things you can do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology – however, the job titles don’t say “psychologist” which makes your search even more difficult. Also, you can talk to JSU’s career services department and they can help you with the job search (they hold an annual job fair which is worth checking out).
Does a bachelor’s degree in psychology only prepare me for graduate school in psychology?
No, there are a lot graduate programs our students enter that are not directly related to psychology. There is marriage and family therapy, counseling, school counseling, special education, criminal justice, sociology, social work, clinical social work, occupational therapy, audiology and speech pathology, public administration, and emergency management to name a few. If you are interested in these programs, search for them on the internet or within a university that you are interested in attending and see what their entrance requirements are. Some will require additional coursework if you did not major in the field as an undergraduate, but others do not.
What do I have to do to graduate in Psychology?
- Have a “C” or higher in every major and minor course.
- Have a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA overall.
- Have a minimum 2.00 JSU GPA overall.
- Complete 128 semester hours with 33 hours in the psychology major (12 hours of which must be completed at JSU) and an approved minor (6 hours of which must be completed at JSU).
- Have a minimum of 36 hours at the 300/400 level (including major and minor courses).
- Pass the English Competency Exam (ECE) at least one semester before graduating.
- Meet with the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Certification Advisor Ms. Karen Gregg to clear your courses (typically done one to two semesters before you graduate).
- Apply to graduate by the deadline, one semester before you plan to graduate.
- Take the CBASE (typically completed your last semester).
- Take the Major Field Test in Psychology your last semester (contact the Psychology Department office for test dates).
- Complete the Psychology Exit Interview with the Psychology Department Chair your last semester (contact the Psychology Department office for interview dates).
What if I have more questions?
Talk to your advisor or talk to Dr. Heidi Dempsey. She will be happy to answer any questions you might have about our undergraduate program in psychology.