Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D.
Professor and chair
Zewe Serpell, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director of graduate studies
Linda E. Zyzniewski, Ph.D.
Professor and director of undergraduate studies
Associate director of graduate academic operations
Associate director of psychology advising and undergraduate academic operations
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).