Department of Psychology at Illinois State University
Welcome to the Department of Psychology at Illinois State University! We are very proud of both our Undergraduate and Graduate Programs. At many large universities, courses are often taught by graduate students, and faculty spend most of their time working on research or teaching only graduate courses. But not at Illinois State. There are approximately 35 full-time faculty members who teach psychology courses and conduct research. Our faculty hold doctorate degrees from some of the finest universities in the country. The specialty areas for teaching and research of our faculty are as diverse as their educational experiences.
Psychology is a scientific discipline with a focus on the behavior of individuals. Some psychologists have interests that overlap most closely with biology; they may study such topics as physiological psychology, neuroscience, perception, learning, memory, information processing, and psychopharmacology. Other psychologists have interests closer to those of social scientists. They study topics such as social development, social psychology, and personality.
As a profession, psychology applies scientific principles to specific problems. Examples of applied psychology are clinical or counseling psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, educational psychology, and school psychology. It is important for students who are interested in psychology as a profession to have a thorough understanding of the scientific principles they will apply. It is just as important for students interested in psychology as a science to understand applied problems.
Psychology has a unique approach to understanding behavior and working with people (or animals) to facilitate behavioral changes. The approach is characterized by an empirical focus, in that, psychology values knowledge that is obtained through empirical, scientific studies. The Major in Psychology focuses on learning about the behavior of individuals and how to facilitate behavioral changes. Students also learn about the research process—how psychology obtains empirical, scientific knowledge and how to applies this knowledge to solve problems.
Students who take psychology courses in high school are exposed to only the general content of psychology. High school psychology courses should give students enough information to determine if they want to study psychology in depth in college. Students should also consider foreign language courses, because psychology is becoming very multicultural and international in its emphasis. The Major in Psychology at Illinois State builds upon skills in math, science, writing, critical thinking, and reasoning. Therefore, high school students are advised to take college preparatory courses in order to prepare for a variety of challenges that are available in higher education.
Students who study psychology in college learn about the entire discipline of psychology. Students study behavior and problem issues as well as the principles and procedures for conducting research. However, students are also exposed to a variety of disciplines in general studies courses and develop skills and attitudes that reflect a broad education. In addition to studying other disciplines (Math, English, Biology, arts, etc.), students should also enroll in courses that will enhance their ability to evaluate knowledge (i.e., thinking in an analytic manner), to communicate verbally or in writing, and to understand how knowledge occurs in cultural contexts.
Psychology is unlike some areas of study that prepare students for specific careers after graduating with a bachelor's degree. For example, with a bachelor's degree in social work, graduates can seek employment as a social worker. With a bachelor's degree in education, graduates are eligible for employment as a teacher. However, students with a bachelor's degree in psychology cannot work as psychologists after graduation. Instead, graduates are prepared for two types of post-graduate opportunities:
1. jobs that utilize the skills acquired as a psychology major. These skills include knowledge of psychological processes, research abilities, and liberal arts skills (e.g., writing, communicating, analyzing, etc.). These jobs are often in areas of social service, business, and education.
2. or graduate study. Many jobs that utilize a knowledge of psychology require either a master's degree or a doctorate degree. These positions include counseling and psychotherapy, positions in school settings and business, college-level teaching, and advanced research positions.
Because the positions obtained by graduates vary, the Major in Psychology at Illinois State is designed to be applicable to students interested in a variety of careers at several educational levels (i.e., bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree). See the American Psychological Association's brochure "Psychology Scientific Problems Solvers—Careers for the 21st Century". It is a useful resource that explains the field of psychology and potential careers.
Our Graduate Programs in School Psychology have the accreditations and approvals recommended for higher quality training, comprehensive curricular content, and properly supervised field experiences. Our doctoral program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association, and approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The Doctoral Program Data is made available in compliance with the American Psychological Association disclosure policy IR C-20. Our specialist program in School Psychology is approved by NCATE and NASP. Both graduate programs are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions about School Psychology.
The Clinical-Counseling Psychology Program has faculty who have been trained in clinical psychology or counseling psychology. Students who complete the program are eligible to sit for both the Illinois Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor examinations. Many of our graduates have entered doctoral training programs or developed professional practices.
The graduate sequence in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences emphasizes study in basic research content areas (e.g., behavioral neuropsychology, conditioning, perception, learning, memory, psycholinguistics, and cognitive development) and the development of quantitative and methodological skills. The sequence supports two emphases: Behavioral Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Commensurate with faculty expertise, the sequence focuses on three content areas: Behavioral, Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science. The sequence provides critical foundation preparation for advanced graduate study and can facilitate entry into research-related careers in non-academic settings.
The graduate sequence in Developmental Psychology provides preparation in lifespan development using a distinctly ecological and interdisciplinary approach. The curriculum offers in-depth exposure to developmental theories, methodologies, and applications within each of the following age sectors: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging. Students may also complete professional practice experiences in the community.
The graduate sequence in Industrial/Organizational-Social Psychology has an I/O and Social emphasis that are designed to meet the educational needs of two types of students: those who plan to enter doctoral degree programs or students seeking employment in such areas as human resources management, personnel administration, or organization development.
The graduate sequence in Quantitative Psychology provides preparation in the use of quantitative methods in the solution of problems in theoretical and applied psychology. The sequence focuses on critical foundation preparation for advanced graduate study and can facilitate entry into careers in community college teaching and a variety of careers in the business-industrial sector.