The mission of the Department of Psychology is to introduce students in the major to the broad field of scientific psychology while offering them an education in the true liberal arts tradition.
Many students begin by assuming that psychology consists primarily of clinical psychology, but they soon learn it includes many other specialties, such as industrial/organizational, developmental, cognitive, physiological and more. Students study psychology from several vantage points: as a natural science, as a social science and as an applied science. In this way, students come to appreciate the complexity of the field.
The psychology faculty is committed to helping students become more sophisticated readers of scientific texts, more effective writers and more articulate speakers. These skills are linked to the development of critical thinking, a primary goal of the faculty. Many courses require students to read primary research publications, to write in expository style and to speak their minds. Students engage in these activities as a way to learn about different kinds of research and about competing theories. The faculty prides itself on the way it prepares students to think analytically and express themselves clearly.
The department offers preparation for admission to graduate and professional schools and employment after graduation. All students learn a variety of useful skills in addition to those described above. They design and conduct research, analyze data using statistical software and use academic search engines. Students learn the importance of first impressions and how to behave professionally. They also learn how to be self disciplined; all seniors complete a substantial piece of scholarly work in the form of a thesis. The psychology program is designed to produce independent, lifelong learners.