As you work toward finishing your major, you should put effort into planning your future. Keep in mind that the decisions you make now will have a tremendous impact on the course of your life. Parents, friends, or professors may act as sounding boards, but they should not make the decisions for you. It is vital for you to take the initiative in planning your future.

Importantly, this web site is certainly not a substitute for the advising process – the faculty of the Department of Psychology believe that careful discussion and planning of your program of study in consultation with your advisor is most important. Your advisor is essential to your guidance during your college career.
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 Joining the Department of Psychology

The first step in pursuing your major is becoming familiar with the people and facilities in the Department of Psychology. You will want to spend time in the Science Building, where the Department of Psychology is housed, and you will want to meet with your advisor and discuss your interests and goals. Talk to the staff and students who work in the department, as well as the students you meet there, and get to know the whereabouts of various resources.

The Department of Psychology office is located in the Science Building, Room D-240. If you are an incoming freshman or transfer student, the process for joining the department involves enrolling as a psychology major at registration. If you are changing to, or are declaring psychology as your major, you need to have your file transferred over (from the department where it is being kept ) to the Department of Psychology. In either case, you must also register with the Department of Psychology Program Assistant. You will be assigned an advisor, and a file containing transcripts and information from your high school and/or previous college will be created and given to your advisor. If you want a certain professor within the Department of Psychology to serve as your advisor, let the department’s Program Assistant know of your request.

For a list of department and university course requirements, refer to either the University Catalog or subsequent sections of this handbook entitled Course Requirements. Seek additional information from department faculty or your advisor. Each semester, you should select courses in a manner that will help you satisfy requirements for both the psychology major and for the general degree ( BA or BS ) you are planning to obtain. In addition to these requirements, you may also want to take courses in which you have an interest, or which serve to round out your general liberal arts education.

Fundamental to your major is PSY 110 Introduction to Psychology, the prerequisite for all other psychology courses. The goal of this introductory course is to convey elementary concepts and facts of the discipline, introduce the full range of its subject matter, examine its basic paradigms and methods, present its established and new research results, and provide some guidelines for further studies.

There are a variety of requirements and options within the department’s set of course offerings. Many of these are not specific courses but areas of concentration in psychology. Our department offers a concentration in human services. A minor course of study is another option you many consider in addition to your psychology major and/or area of Concentration. A more detailed discussion of the value of a minor is outlined in this handbook under the section entitled, The Added Value of a Minor.

The Department of Psychology also offers the opportunity for Independent Study in Psychology (PSY 399). A student can work with a professor on directed readings, original experimental or survey research, applied internships (PSY 494 & PSY 495), or pursue some other project of special interest. Students interested in graduate school or pursuing a career in psychology are strongly encouraged to take part in one or more of these activities.

Once you have chosen psychology as your major, you will need to plan your college career in greater detail and with greater focus. While tackling the rigors of your psychology curriculum, you will also be getting a liberal arts education.

An undergraduate liberal arts education serves the purpose of providing you with broad, foundational knowledge and analytical skills in the humanities, arts and sciences. It prepares you for good citizenship, for working in the world, and for further specialized study in a discipline. It teaches you how to find existing knowledge in an area of interest and how to think carefully and critically about information and ideas. It also provides a start in teaching you how to acquire new knowledge. The university has general degree requirements in order to provide its students with this broad base of knowledge and skills.

 Consulting Your Advisor

As an initial step in planning your degree program, talk with your faculty advisor. However, you should do some basic preparation before your initial meeting. Both your time and your advisor’s time are best spent responding to your specific questions rather than repeating the basic information that is already present in this handbook or the University Catalog. A new catalog is published every other year. In general, you may meet either the academic requirements current at the time you first enroll or those approved later. Be sure to meet all of whichever set of requirements you choose.

Gather and study information about the university and major requirements and programs in your copy of the University Catalog or material from particular departments. Web pages for these departments can be accessed from the UWSP website. Prepare questions based on your needs and what you think you want to do. As you talk with your advisor, check off items as they are covered and take notes about courses, further work needed and sources of information.

Begin a master plan of your course of study. This master plan should extend through your entire college career. It should be flexible, because a course may not be offered during a particular semester, or two courses may meet at the same time, and so forth. Although your initial meeting with your advisor should center on your degree requirements, it might be a good time to begin formulating your master plan.

Consult your advisor when you draft your class schedule. Your advisor can help you to evaluate your reasons for choosing certain classes rather than others. When you meet with your advisor, have some idea of the classes you want to take for the coming semester. Consider alternatives and ask which would be best in terms of your master plan. By doing your scheduling this way, you can take full advantage of your advisor’s insights and opinions as you develop your own ideas and direction. Remember; plan ahead!

Ask around to find out which advisors are knowledgeable about career planning in your area of interest. As you explore various careers for which you may be suited, visit the Career Services Office (Room 134, Old Main Building), for additional advice or career testing. You can then work together with both your faculty advisor and Career Services advisor to plan an effective course of study.

Talk to faculty members (or advisor, if appropriate) in the particular field of psychology in which you might be interested. They can advise you concerning suitable courses, minors, or graduate programs. These persons might also have information on how to find an internship or a job, or gain entrance into a graduate program. Ask your own faculty advisor to recommend any special advisors or departmental colleagues who might be willing to meet with you.

Your faculty advisor will be a source of advice during your entire college career. There may be times when you need advice or direction that is not academic in nature, for which you need an impartial response. Most advisors are quite willing to help students find ways to deal with problems that are outside those areas they usually handle. If not, your advisor can refer you to help or guidance. In short, throughout your college career, look to your faculty advisor as a source of help in both academic and nonacademic matters.

 The Added Value of an Academic Minor

There are many possible sequences for completing the Psychology major (with or without the Human Services Concentration). That said, the next few pages summarize one possible path for completing the major.

Notice that these outlines assume that the first Psychology class is taken in the student’s first year. It is possible to complete the major (even with the concentration) beginning in the student’s second or third year by taking more Psychology classes than the number indicated above.

Similarly, psychology majors can fulfill GE requirements and the courses needed for another major or minor by taking more than 15 credits each semester or classes in summer, interim, and winterim.

Finally, interested students may, of course, take more courses in psychology than required. In fact, most psychology majors take many more credits than these minimal requirements. Explore the subject that you love!