Psychology is the scientific discipline that studies human behavior and mental processes: how human beings develop, learn, think, and feel. Psychologists study the relative influences of heredity (qualities people inherit from their biological parents) and experience (what happens to people during their lifetime). Many areas of psychology require substantial funding for research success. Our faculty include acknowledged leaders in their fields who have attracted major external funding to the University. The department is currently generating approximately $12 million per year in research funds. Psychological studies are carried out in a wide variety of environments, including the laboratory, home, school, workplace, jury room, hospital and hospice. Faculty of the Department of Psychology at SDSU actively involve students in their research and focus on a number of areas of psychology including:
- the effects of prenatal environments, including the influence of hormones and drugs used by expectant mothers on brain development and later functioning;
- the normal processes of learning, memory, and cognition (knowing and perceiving);
- the effects of childhood experience on social-emotional and cognitive development;
- the functioning of adults and the elderly in response to biological and environmental challenges;
- the effectiveness of programs for enhancing physical and mental well-being of people;
- personnel selection and performance in industrial and business settings;
- ways of eliminating or controlling maladaptive behaviors.
SDSU psychology majors are required to take courses that expose them to the principal areas of psychology. Beyond the fulfillment of these core requirements, the program of coursework and hands-on experience varies greatly, depending on a student's goals for employment or graduate study after the Bachelor's degree. Therefore, the Psychology Advising staff is available to help each student work out an individual program of study. Here are some of the career options for which we develop programs of study:
- Employment with the Bachelor's degree (B.A.). The majority of students who graduate with a B.A. in psychology enter the job market and find employment in a wide range of settings, including business, state and local government agencies, and health-care services. Elective classes can be selected in accord with different career goals. Students interested in health and human services may take classes that focus on psychological health and well-being or issues related to child development. Those interested in business may take classes that focus on industrial, organizational and consumer issues or those that emphasize computer skills, measurement, data analysis, or some combination of these.
- Graduate work in applied areas such as counseling. Students who have maintained strong academic records in psychology often enter Master's degree programs in counseling, such as Clinical Social Work, Marriage Family and Child Counseling, and School Psychology. Others earn a Master's, Ph.D., or professional degree in related fields including Program Evaluation, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Public Health, Social Ecology, Education Program Development, Criminal Justice, Law, Administrative Social Work, Human Resource Development and Medicine.
- Graduate Programs leading to the Ph.D. in Psychology. Programs that lead to the Ph.D. train one to be a scientific psychologist, to study human behavior and mental processes, and to teach at a university. The Ph.D. in clinical psychology also includes supervised training in clinical practice. The time commitment for earning a Ph.D. degree is considerable, and these programs are highly competitive.