Thursday, November 10, 2011
Changes to the Psychology Undergraduate Programs
Many of our students have learned that the Psychology Department has made changes to our major. We wanted to take the opportunity to describe them here, and explain which sets of requirements apply to you. Here are the main points:
1. Don't worry about having to satisfy any new requirements if you declared your major before Fall 2011. You still can complete the old Psychology BA and Psychology BS requirements if you so chose, or you have the option to make the transition to the new program. You can still find the requirements for the two old degree programs in the archived catalogs, which are available here.
2. The requirements are different for undergraduates who have declared their Psychology major in the current semester (Fall 2011) and onward. Our department conducted a detailed review of our curriculum. We read the newest recommendations for Psychology majors developed by the American Psychological Association, compared our coursework against many other universities, and even brought in an outside consultant to examine our program. After careful deliberations, we updated our requirements in light of all of this information. The requirements that apply for students who declare their Psychology major in Fall 2011 and beyond can be found here.
The new major ensures that students will complete courses in four major areas of Psychology. This is important and helpful for students who want to pursue either graduate school or employment in the field. There are still lots of electives and choice in the updated major, which has increased from 33 to 36 semester hours.
You'll also note that we are no longer offering the Psychology BS degree, but only the Psychology BA. We found that universities across the country didn't have systematic reasons why they offered a BA versus a BS degree, which results in uncertainty among graduate schools or employers who examine students' transcripts and backgrounds. Our students were also often confused by the distinction and didn't know which program they wanted or needed.
We are still very committed to our majors who want to learn a lot about the biological bases of behavior, who tended to be the ones to select the BS degree. We offer many courses in the area, and we will be excited to roll out a new Concentration in Neuroscience as an optional part of the Psychology BA that will start in Fall 2012. More on this news to follow in the months ahead.
3. We also made changes to our two undergraduate certificate programs offered by our department. This was needed because the federal government developed a new definition for certificate programs as requiring extensive coursework that is completed independently of a degree program. Our programs didn't meet these criteria, so we had to make this change effective immediately.
The former Certificate in Child and Family Studies was converted into the Concentration in Child and Family Studies. All requirements, which are described here, remain the same.
The Psychology Department changed the former Certificate in Relaxation, Meditation, and Mindfulness (RMM) into a course sequence. Students who complete our "Comprehensive Stress Management and Meditation/Mindfulness (CSMMM)" courses will receive a letter of completion from the department.
We know that changes like these can be confusing, but they do bring us in line with national standards and best practices. I hope that this explanation is helpful as you plan your coursework for the semesters ahead.