Wendy Kliewer, Ph.D.
Professor and chair

Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D.
Professor and director of graduate studies

Linda E. Zyzniewski, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director of undergraduate programs

Dorothy E. Fillmore
Associate director of academic operations

psychology.vcu.edu

In addition to the Bachelor of Science in Psychology, the Department of Psychology offers instruction in clinical, counseling, health and general psychology leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Students in all doctoral degree programs are educated first as psychologists and then helped to develop competence in a more specialized area relevant to their scholarly and professional objectives. In addition, special training and experience in college teaching is available.

Honors in psychology

Psychology majors in the baccalaureate program can earn honors in psychology. Any student is eligible to join the program if he or she declares a major in psychology, meets one of the three following entrance requirements and joins the Honors College.

Entering freshmen must have combined SAT scores of at least 1910 and rank in the top 15 percent of their high school graduating class and present an unweighted 3.5 GPA (4.0 scale). Students transferring to VCU must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA in at least 30 college semester hours of credit and have no more than 60 college semester hours of credit. Continuing VCU students must have a 3.5 cumulative GPA and have taken a minimum of 20, but no more than 60, credits at VCU.

Once admitted to the program, the honors student must complete an honors thesis during a three-semester course sequence (PSYC 497, 498, 499), typically begun in their junior year, in which they propose, conduct and successfully defend their research.

A student in the program will graduate with honors in psychology if he or she has completed this three-course sequence with an A in each course, has maintained a GPA of 3.5, overall and in psychology, has had their thesis defense approved by members of the committee with no more than one negative vote and has completed all other requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

Psychology advising (Psyugrad)

Students choose to major in psychology for many reasons. Most often they select the major from a combination of wanting to help other people and wanting to learn the scientific principles of behavior. Students in the program expect to receive career counseling and information on graduate and/or professional school training. The department has developed methods to meet these expectations.

Psyugrad has been established by the department to provide advising to undergraduate majors with educational and career planning. Students are shown how to choose appropriate electives for bachelor’s-level careers in mental health services, personnel, management, corrections, rehabilitation, health services, education and laboratory research. In addition, all psychology majors are enrolled in PSYUGRAD, a Blackboard organization. PSYUGRAD provides up-to-date information on research opportunities, jobs, special presentations and advising documents.

The adviser’s role is to consult with students about various areas of professional opportunity, explain the role of graduate education and suggest general areas of study outside of the psychology department that might fit the student’s interests and goals. Advisers are available on a walk-in basis at the department’s Psyugrad Advising Office located at the White House, 806 W. Franklin Street, Room 107. Hours are posted on PSYUGRAD Blackboard.

PSYC   492 and PSYC   494 are two of the upper-level electives specifically designed to enhance the psychology major’s career pursuits for either employment or graduate-level training. Both of these courses provide opportunities for direct, practical experience with close supervision. Students may register for one, two or three credits following consultation with a faculty mentor who will supervise the experience. Students are expected to work three hours per week per credit hour for each of these experiences. They may be repeated for up to a total of 12 credits, but with no more than six credits of each.

The Department of Psychology offers service-learning courses (PSYC   307/LFSC   307; PSYC   493) that involve participation in an organized community service experience. Through classroom discussions and written assignments, students relate theories and research presented in class with community experiences. Through service-learning courses, students:

  • Gain an understanding and appreciation of the community and its diverse people
  • Explore an area of study or a career option
  • Critically reflect on their values and responsibilities as citizens

In many cases, a service-learning course will meet the urban experience general education requirement (refer to the Schedule of Classes).

 

PSYC   101. Introduction to Psychology. 4 Hours.Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Psychology

Semester course; 3 lecture and 1 computer-assisted instructional hours. 4 credits. A survey of the basic principles, methods of investigation and fields of study and application. Includes individualized application of principles and methods in computerized learning activities. This course is a prerequisite for upper-level work in the field of psychology.

PSYC   201. Career Development in Psychology. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Introduction to the discipline of psychology and the career alternatives available in various specialties. Self-assessment, career decision-making skills, educational program planning methods will be covered. Special topics will include graduate/professional school options, opportunities for minority students and job search strategies for the B.A. or B.S. psychology major.

PSYC   214. Applications of Statistics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   101 and STAT   210 both with a minimum grade of C. Frequency distributions, measures of central tendency and variability; sampling, probability, correlation and significance tests as applied in psychological data.

PSYC   301. Child Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. A study is made of the growth and development of the child until puberty. Childlike is viewed in terms of physical, mental, social, emotional and educational factors. PSYC   304 Life Span Developmental Psychology also may not be taken for credit.

PSYC   302. Psychology of Adolescence. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   101. A study of mental, moral, social and physical development from puberty to maturity viewed as in child psychology. Designed for secondary school teachers, youth leaders and professional psychologists.

PSYC   303. Personal Adjustment. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Surveys major theories of personality as a basis for studying theory, research and intervention into areas that require personal adjustment. Such areas include sense of self, stress and coping, work and career and several varieties of interpersonal relationships. Positive adjustment and growth as well as problems are discussed.

PSYC   304. Life Span Developmental Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Reviews the basic concepts and principles of physical, cognitive and social development at each major stage of life-prenatal, infancy, toddlerhood, preschool, middle childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Consideration is given to the study of development at each stage of life and to different theoretical explanations for development. PSYC   301 Child Psychology may not also be taken for credit.

PSYC   305. Educational Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. The application of psychological principles to the teaching-learning process with special emphasis on theories of learning and development. Crosslisted as: EDUS   305.

PSYC   306. Psychology of Adult Development. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. The life stages and transitions of the young adult, middle age and young-old phases of the life cycle are considered, following a review of methods of research within life-span development psychology. Topics include the impact of events such as birth of the first child, job relocation, mid-life re-evaluation and anticipated retirement.

PSYC   307. Community Solutions: Multiple Perspectives. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Explores possibilities for addressing social concerns of the Richmond community by understanding the complex nature of social issues as essential to their successful amelioration via perspectives of life and social sciences. Toward this end, expertise from the social sciences, the life sciences and the community are integrated. Includes a service-learning experience (a 20-hour volunteer requirement). Crosslisted as: LFSC   307.

PSYC   308. Stress and its Management. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Physiological and psychological aspects of stressors and the stress response. Review of principles, research and methods of stress management, such as relaxation, self-suggestions, meditation and biofeedback.

PSYC   309. Personality. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. The study of the various approaches to understanding human behavior in terms of personality theory. Various theories will be examined for commonality and uniqueness in assumptions, dynamics and development of personality.

PSYC   310. Industrial Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Application of psychological principles and techniques to problems in personnel management and human engineering; recruitment, selection, training and placement in industry; criteria in testing and test development; morale evaluation and improvement, employee counseling; work-management communications; human engineering in equipment design, quality control, working conditions and safety.

PSYC   317. Experimental Methods. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   214 with a minimum grade of C. Introduction to experimental procedures and laboratory techniques in psychology. Demonstrations and experiments in sensation, perception, learning, emotion and motivation.

PSYC   318. Principles of Psychological Tests and Measurements. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: minimum grade of C in PSYC   101 and minimum grade of C in STAT   210. Concepts in psychological measurement and a survey of commonly used tests; testing procedures and rationale underlying these tests; tests of intelligence, aptitude, achievement, interest and personality critically examined, procedures described for selecting and evaluating specific group tests in these areas.

PSYC   321. Social Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Survey theory and research in social psychology. Topics include interpersonal and social influence processes, attitudes and social cognition, the impact of personality on social behavior, conformity, leadership and small group behavior.

PSYC   322. Personality and Behavior of the African American. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. A study of personality factors such as motivation, ego-functioning and the socialization processes, with special emphasis on living conditions of African-Americans. Crosslisted as: AFAM   322.

PSYC   323. Interpersonal Relations. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Analyzes human relations from various theoretical perspectives. Typical topics include the effects of attraction, friendship, love and dependency on relationships; the evolution of relationships from initiation through termination. Strategies for increasing effectiveness of communication between individuals also are addressed.

PSYC   333. Psychology and Religious Experience. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Religious belief and experience as viewed by major psychological theorists. How psychological methodology has been used to study religious experience. Topics include personality factors and development, conversion experiences, religious experiences and mental health and human values. Crosslisted as: RELS   333.

PSYC   335. Psychology of Women. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Overview of issues in psychology relevant to women. Topics include: research methods of women's issues; sex-role socialization; women and hormones; psychological androgyny; personality theory and counseling strategies for women; women and language; women and violence; and rape and abuse. Crosslisted as: GSWS   335.

PSYC   340. Introduction to the Helping Relationship. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Overview to the dynamics of communication in a helping relationship. Didactic material includes the principles of empathy, nonverbal behavior, problem-solving, crisis intervention and interview techniques. Basic paraprofessional counselor skills will be demonstrated and practiced through structured exercises.

PSYC   341. Group Dynamics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Social and psychological principles and research related to the individual in groups. Specific topics include motivation for individuals forming and joining groups, performance and productivity of group members, group leadership and majority and minority influence. The group will be examined in relation to the larger society and as a subculture in itself. Crosslisted as: SOCY   341.

PSYC   401. Physiological Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Data from the fields of anatomy and physiology are presented, and their implications for psychology are discussed. The central nervous system, internal environment, vision, audition, reflexes, emotion, learning behavior disorders and their physiological components. Behavior of the human organisms is studied from the biopsychological point of view.

PSYC   404. Social Psychology of Emotions. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   101, SOCY   101. An examination of the social shaping of emotion as well as its function in maintaining the social process. Cross-cultural uniformities and diversity in basic emotions and their expression are addressed as well as selected social psychological theories of emotions. Crosslisted as: SOCY 404.

PSYC   406. Perception. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Perception of information from sensory systems with concentration on vision and hearing. Research and theories on how we learn and judge color, form, movement, depth and how individuals integrate these in object identification.

PSYC   407. Psychology of the Abnormal. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Development of personality is discussed, with emphasis on factors leading to maladjustment. Lectures and reading cover the symptom groups of emotional disorders of both psychological and organic origin. Methods of assessing and treating these disorders are surveyed.

PSYC   410. Principles of Learning and Cognition. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Comprehensive treatment of learning and cognition with emphasis on humans, from behavioral, cognitive, biological and developmental viewpoints. Topics include conditioning, information processing, memory, sociobiology and cognitive and moral development.

PSYC   412. Health Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Application of the principles and techniques of psychology to the field of medicine, to health maintenance and to illness. The integration of theoretical, research and applied issues is emphasized in the analysis of such topics as psychological/behavioral factors contributing to and protecting against physical illness (stress, smoking, exercise), factors relating to treatment and recovery (coping, treatment compliance), psychological problems resulting from illness and injury, and specific techniques and problem areas in health psychology (such as biofeedback, pain management, pediatric psychology, geropsychology, rehabilitation psychology and lifestyle change.).

PSYC   414. Psychology of Women's Health. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Overviews the psychological research on women's health. Topics include health behavior change, personality and individual differences, cognitive factors, disease-specific behaviors and interventions. Crosslisted as: GSWS   414.

PSYC   426. Child Psychopathology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   101. Principal childhood behavioral abnormalities. A review of causes, assessment and diagnostic methods, and treatment, intervention and prevention approaches.

PSYC   451. History of Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   101 and senior standing. Traces the history of ideas about mind and behavior as they relate to the theory and practice of psychology.

PSYC   491. Topics in Psychology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Maximum total of 6 credits in topics courses. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. An in-depth study of selected topics and issues in psychology. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered.

PSYC   492. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1, 2 or 3 credits per semester. Maximum of 6 credits for all independent study courses. PSYC   492, PSYC   493 or PSYC   494 may be repeated for a total of 6 credits but a maximum of 12 credits total for all three courses. Prerequisite: PSYC   101. Open only to students of junior or senior standing who have acquired at least 12 credits in the departmental discipline. Determination of the amount of credit and permission of instructor and department chair must be procured prior to registration of the course. Independent study is defined as student-conceived and initiated readings or research project which is supervised by a psychology faculty member. An oral examination or written, comprehensive paper is required at the end of the semester.

PSYC   493. Fieldwork: Human Services. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. PSYC   492, PSYC   493 and PSYC   494 may be repeated for a total of 6 credits but a maximum of 12 credits total for all three courses is allowed. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Students are placed in an agency, which will provide supervised work experience in various aspects of helping other people. The setting might be a government or private community agency, or a corporation, depending on the student's goals. The student works eight hours per week at the placement site, attends several group discussion sessions during the semester and completes written assignments. This course is designed to enhance the psychology major's career pursuits for either graduate-level training or post-baccalaureate employment.

PSYC   494. Research Internship in Psychology. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1, 2 or 3 credits per semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits with adviser's approval. PSYC   492, PSYC   493 or PSYC   494 may be repeated for a total of 6 credits but a maximum of 12 credits total for all three courses. Prerequisites: PSYC   101 and permission of faculty research supervisor must be obtained prior to registration. PSYC   214 and PSYC   317, or permission of supervisor. Students will work on various phases of a research project (design, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing) under a psychology faculty member's close supervision. This course is designed to enhance the psychology major's career pursuits for either graduate-level training or post-baccalaureate employment.

PSYC   497. Honors in Psychology I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: PSYC   317 (co-requisite with permission) and admission to the honors in psychology program. First in a three course sequence to develop, execute and defend an empirically based thesis in psychology. Students will work with a mentor to develop ideas into a tangible research project, working toward a proposal.

PSYC   498. Honors in Psychology II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   497 with a grade of A. Students will refine research ideas developed in PSYC   497 into a formal proposal document with introduction, method and proposed results. Students are expected to propose the thesis to their committee members no later than the second week of this course and begin data collection thereafter.

PSYC   499. Honors in Psychology III. 3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PSYC   498 with a grade of A. Students will complete the research project developed in PSYC   497 and 498 and generate the final thesis, including introduction, method, results and discussion. Students must orally defend the thesis to their committee members by the end of this course with time for revisions to be submitted within the semester’s defined grading period.