102 Gilmer Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400400
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400
(434) 982-4750 Fax: (434) 982-4766
Overview Psychology is the scientific study of behavior of humans and other animals. It ranges from studies of human development and complex thought processes to social relations, brain and neural mechanisms, psychopathology and beyond. The requirements for the major are designed to ensure breadth of coverage, but to allow flexibility in selecting courses according to each student’s interests. Opportunities for independent work are available in research and field experience through internship.
In addition to gaining a general liberal arts degree, training in the subject matter and methodology of psychology (including experimental methodology and statistics and an appreciation of the relatively unique ways psychologists view human behavior) is excellent preparation for a variety of careers.
Faculty The department of psychology has approximately thirty-five active full-time faculty members in seven broad areas of specialization: clinical, cognitive, community, developmental, sensory systems and neuroscience, quantitative, and social. Faculty members are active scholars, with numerous research grants, books, and other scientific publications to their credit. Specific areas of faculty interest include adolescence, aging, behavioral development, behavioral genetics, deception, emotion, family studies, interpersonal processes, language and communication, neurobiology and behavior, perception and perceptual development, personality and individual differences, psychological intervention, psychology and law, psychopathology, public policy, social cognition, social development, social ecology and development, and women, ethnic, and minority studies.
Students Psychology is a liberal arts major, with 300-350 students graduating each year with a bachelor’s degree. However, students from schools other than the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences also major in psychology.
Courses An extensive array of courses is offered throughout the department. Courses below the 4500 level in the major are usually large lectures of 65 to 350 students, and are taught exclusively by faculty members. These courses are often supplemented with smaller lab or discussion sections led by graduate teaching assistants to provide more personalized contact. Likewise, fourth-year seminars are usually limited to less than twenty students to facilitate active discussion. Students may also get involved in research by becoming an research assistant on some ongoing project, and by doing an independent research project as part of the Distinguished Major Program.
Becoming a professional psychologist, similar to becoming a doctor or lawyer, requires post-graduate training in one of many areas. Traditional research areas include cognitive, developmental, sensory systems and neuroscience, quantitative and social psychology. Persons interested in these areas usually pursue a doctoral degree. Applied areas include clinical, community, industrial/organizational, counseling, educational psychology and school psychology. Careers in these areas are possible at the master’s or doctoral level. Students who do not choose to pursue graduate degrees in psychology often enter the job market in human service delivery areas or positions requiring a general liberal arts degree. Psychology is also an entry degree for graduate programs in social work, education, medicine, and law.