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There are three degree levels in the field of psychology:
An undergraduate or bachelor's level of education in psychology is an important and worthwhile endeavor for your personal and occupational development. Psychology majors graduate from Hofstra University with a broadly based liberal arts education. They are taught to appreciate the many aspects of human behavior including those associated with normal and problematic development in the childhood, adolescent and adult years. Psychology majors acquire a broad base of knowledge about human behavior and they learn research skills required to gain new knowledge. Indeed, the breadth of training psychology majors receive is attractive to many employers.
However, if you are going to terminate your education with a B.A. then it is important to gain experience and exposure to other fields and the workplace while completing your degree in psychology. This can be acquired through summer jobs, part-time work, and courses in the University related to your interests. With this kind of background you will become a broadly trained, well-educated and marketable graduate.
This is a list of some of the job possibilities for graduates with a B.A. in Psychology to consider:
Although graduates with a B.A. in psychology are well prepared to enter to world at large, most careers in professional and scientific psychology require at least a master's and usually a doctoral degree. So, if your goal is to become a "psychologist," be prepared to go on for graduate work.
A dual major or a minor in a related field is useful, particularly for students who wish to eventually work in business. For example, Social Psychology (Psychology 159), Industrial Psychology (Psychology 33), and Organizational Psychology (Psychology 34) would be useful courses for a marketing career, along with the Measurement and Statistics (Psychology 140) and Research Methods and Design (Psychology 141) courses that all psychology majors complete. Other courses to supplement your education can be taken in the School of Business.
A popular option is the Elementary Education/Psychology dual major. Such a student would take Child Psychology (Psychology 153) and Research Seminar in Developmental Psychology (Psychology 196), and a course in Behavior Modification (Psychology 111) or Psychological Testing (Psychology 178). Other courses would be taken in the School of Education.
When choosing your elective psychology courses, do not shy away from courses that promote writing and critical thinking. Some people think: "research papers--uggh!" But, have you ever seen a job description that says: "WANTED-crackerjack multiple choice and fill in the blank expert?" No? Well, you get the point.
There are two types of master's programs. A professional or terminal program provides training for employment in applied settings such as community mental health centers, business, school systems (APA, 1986), and so on. In constrast, some other programs expect their graduates to apply subsequently for a doctoral program. Those are not terminal programs, as they expect graduate to pursue further education.
If your career goal is to work as a Certified School Psychologist or in an industrial-organizational psychology or business or industry setting, the M.A. is the entry-level degree. To earn an M.A. in School Psychology or in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, you would typically complete two years of course work and an internship.
Check out master's programs carefully for what they offer and learn what the graduates of that program do. All states and most Canadian provinces require that services provided by person's with a master's degree in psychology work under the supervision of a doctoral level psychologist (APA, 1986).
A Masters of Social Work degree (MSW.) is also worth exploring. MSW holders may provide counseling and therapy in community centers and in private practice. It is important to note that M.A. and MSW recipients often compete for the same career opportunities as do B.A. recipients (see list above).
Persons with only a master's degree in academic or clinical settings may find a limit to their advancement and earning power as compared with those with a doctoral degree (i.e., the Psy.D or the Ph.D).
All states reserve the title "Psychologist" for persons with doctorates, and a doctorate is required for independent, unsupervised private practice. It is rare these days to find a full-time faculty position above the junior college level which requires less than a Ph.D., unless that person has had extensive field or teaching experience.
A clinical Ph.D. program prepares you to practice psychology (e.g., provide therapy or other services) and/or do research in a university, clinic or hospital setting. You can also earn a Ph.D. in a research area of psychology, such as social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, or quantititative psychology. With a research Ph.D., you can teach at the college level, and conduct research in a university, hospital, government, policy, or business setting.
If your goal is work in an academic or clinical setting, but your academic credentials are not strong enough to obtain admission to a four (or more) year doctoral program, a master's program may be a good option for you as a first step to a career. A person who does well in such a program can then apply to a doctoral program after having "proved" him or herself. Be aware that not all credits may transfer between master's and doctoral programs, so this route takes more time. If you are interested in the doctorate, it is recommend that you work hard and earn good grades, obtain some hands-on research experience, and try to enter such a program directly after you earn you B.A.
Doctor of Philosophy [Ph.D.] in Clinical, Counseling or School Psychology
Persons who are interested in both the practice and the science of clinical, counseling, or school psychology may want to look into programs that offer the Ph.D. degree. This degree requires at least four years of course work and supervised practical work, and is followed by a year of internship. Ph.D. graduates in these professional specialities then may take a licensing examination to work as an independent practitioner or they may work in academic or governmental settings.
An original doctoral dissertation including a literature review, data collection, statistical analysis and discussion is required. A Ph.D. in clinical, counseling or school psychology offers the possibility of teaching at the college or university level, working as a researcher, and working as an independent private practitioner.
Note: Some doctoral programs [both Ph.D. and Psy D.] require M.A. degrees before they accept students for the Ph.D., but the trend is towards a Ph.D only program. In these programs, students are not accepted unless they are attempting the Ph.D.
Ph.D. in Research Fields
Although undergraduates often first consider the professional psychology route (clinical, counseling, or school psychology) many if not most of the professors who teach them have obtained a research-based Ph.D in other fields of psychology.
It is quite important and prestigious to earn a Ph.D. in a research field. Remember, the practice of psychology is based on empirical evidence and research psychologists gather that evidence.
Obtaining this kind of degree requires advanced course work and at least a dissertation completed in graduate school, composed of one or more original experiments or research studies. Sometimes the dissertation follows a masters' thesis. The following is a partial list of such areas:
Typically, after completing a 4- to 7-year course of study at a major research university, and sometimes after additional postdoctoral work, holders of these degrees become college or university professors or researchers for the government or industry.
In addition to teaching two to four courses a semester, professors are expected to publish research articles and books, present their work at national or international conferences, and perform service to their communities. Professors at large universities also write proposals for research grants, supervise graduate students who are conducting their master's theses and doctoral dissertations, and teach graduate courses in their specialties or clinical practica (techniques of therapy, etc.). Research based Ph.D.'s provide fulfilling lives for those who hold them and there is great satisfaction in discovering new knowledge.
Students interested in becoming a professor in an academic sub-field should try to gain experience working with a professor interested in that area and, if possible, complete an honors thesis (see below) before they apply to graduate school. It is importantly that the students develop a strong interest in a particular topic. Then, selectively apply to graduate programs where research on that topic is being conducted. (Typically, graduate professors select students on the basis of their interest, as well as academic excellence, and serve as mentors to the students through graduate school and beyond).
To become a psychology major, just go to the psychology department and declare your intention to do so. At that point, you will be assigned to an advisor. If you have a particular interest, such as industrial-organizational psychology, it would be a good idea to request that your advisor be a professor who is interested in that topic. You may get an advisor or change your advisor at any time. Sometimes, because of the large number of students, or the popularity of the professor, a professor's list of advisees is full. Then, you must have the permission of that professor to be added to the list, or you can choose someone else. Once you have an advisor, make an appointment to see him or her at least once every semester.
An advisor is good for several things, other than signing the many forms. Your advisor can introduce you to the mysteries of that big transcript-like piece of paper called, "the DARS Report" (i.e., Degree Audit Report). Although this document was meant to be self-explanatory, experience shows that to be only partly true. Your advisor can decipher its mystical codes.
Your advisor can help you select courses. Many useful courses, both within and outside of psychology, are not technically "required" for graduation. However, they might be useful thereafter. As but one example, many graduate programs in psychology require that students have taken the History of Psychology course before they enroll in an M.A., Psy.D or Ph.D. program.
Your advisor can help you avoid mistakes. There are rules that you may not have noticed in the Bulletin. Your advisor can remind you of requirements, before it is too late.
Your advisor can defend you if you do make an error. If you find yourself in a bind, and you've seen your advisor regularly, exceptions may sometimes be made or alternative routes be taken. If you find yourself in a bind and you have never seen your advisor, then you may be out of luck.
Your advisor can remind you of those all-important requirements in psychology that are not written anywhere in the Bulletin. You can get a degree in psychology by following the rules set forth in the Bulletin. However, if you want to go further, to graduate school, you need a broad range of courses, research and volunteer experience, help in writing your resume the way people in psychology expect to see it, etc. Your advisor knows more than your peers about these matters because your advisor has been there, or at least the advisor can suggest a colleague who has relevant information.
Always bring your "DARS report" (Degree Audit Report) when you make an appointment and call ahead - during pre-registration, things can get pretty busy. The DARS provides the easiest way for your advisor to be brought up to speed on what you have already taken and what courses will fulfill your psychology, college and university requirements. This is particularly important for transfer students and dual-majors.
Many students now register for classes "electronically." Your faculty advisor will "flag" your registration records to show that you have been advised and that you are authorized to select courses, or a manila-colored course card may be filled out by the student signed by the advisor, and submitted to the registrar. If you are registering for classes in this manner, bring the manila-colored course card filled out in pencil with (non-conflicting) courses you would like to take next semester. Do your homework with the newsprint course schedule beforehand. It saves time, and leaves more time for important questions.
Bring paper and a pen to take notes. (Yes, many people don't, and then forget what the advisor said.)
There are many nuances to the requirements for graduation with a B.A. in the Department of Psychology of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (HCLAS). All of the requirements are specified in the Hofstra University Bulletin, which is published prior to every academic year and is distributed to every incoming students. Hold on to this Bulletin! The Bulletin for the year you enter Hofstra is your contract with the University: Meet the requirements, and you have earned your degree. Ultimately, it is your responsibility alone to know the requirements which apply to your unique educational history at Hofstra University. Your faculty advisor, nonetheless, is always available to discuss your academic program during their office hours (posted at the start of each semester) or by appointment.
Here is a"metaphorical overview" of the general "shape" of the degree requirements. Imagine that Hofstra is a Nation, and you are citizen in good standing. Your goal is "professional status" (the B.A.). You have not one, but three masters:
You have to fulfill requirements (think "pay taxes") for each of these three "levels" of Hofstra-the University, the College, and the Department:
Easy to remember, but critical: You need to acquire 124 semester hours (s.h.) for graduation, and maintain a minimum cumulative average of 2.0-non-negotiable!
Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (HCLAS for short) requires a minimum of 94 s.h. The 94 s.h. must include:
The goal, of course, is to assure that Psychology Majors and all majors in HCLAS Departments have a liberal, not narrow, education.
It is important to acquaint yourself with the details of these College requirements in the University Bulletin for the year in which your entered. They are listed under the heading "Degree Requirements" in the section titled "Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences."
Note: Courses taken in the School of Business , the School of Education and the Allied Human Services or technical courses from the School of Communication are treated as "non-liberal arts credits." In other words, they count toward the University requirement of 124 credits but not toward the College's required 94 credits. So, count your liberal arts credits carefully! For further details, look up "liberal arts, definition of" in the index of the Bulletin.
The Department requires students to take a minimum of 33-36 s.h. of Psychology course work, depending on your year of entry. Note that, under normal circumstances, no more than 45 credits of psychology course work can count towards graduation.
The psychology course requirements fall into two categories: the research sequence and electives.
(a) Four Research Courses:
A "research sequence" of four classes must be taken, in order, in different semesters:
(b) Elective Courses:
Students are required to take a total of six or seven elective courses, depending on your year of entry, in addition to the research sequence courses. Two or more must be chosen from "the fundamental (small) set", and the remainder from "the general (large) set."
The Fundamental (Small) Set of Electives:
[minimum of two are required, more are encouraged]
The General Elective (Large) Set
Although your course selection is constrained by these "College" and "University" requirements, you actually have considerable flexibility in choosing other "general elective" and "distribution" courses throughout the university. For example, a Psychology Major's College and Department requirements cover 26 of the approximately 41 courses required to graduate. In other words, about one-third of psychology major's courses are "free-choice" general electives. This leaves plenty of room courses in other departments, to take a minor concentration in another field, or even to "double major."
If your are a dual major, you need "twin advisors"-one person in each department who can help you select (and get) the courses you need when you need them. Since you will have fewer "free" general electives, you can less afford to choose unwisely.
Students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in Psychology, a GPA of 3.4 overall, and who will have completed at least 60 semester hours in residence at Hofstra before graduation, will be notified by the Psychology Department that they are eligible to complete a Psychology Department Honors Thesis in their senior year. An honors thesis provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct their own scientific research. Students planning a career in psychology are especially encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.
Students will work on their senior honors thesis under the guidance of a faculty sponsor and a thesis committee consisting of two faculty members in addition to the faculty sponsor. A faculty sponsor must be chosen prior to beginning the thesis project and the thesis committee should be chosen no later than the start of semester in which the thesis is to be completed. A list of faculty research interests is available on the Psychology Department webpage.
The end-product of an honors thesis project is an APA format scientific report of the research conducted for the project. Honors theses must test a specific theory or hypothesis. If the project consists of an original experiment, an hypothesis derived from theoretical considerations must be formulated and tested; if the project is a literature review or meta-analysis, the paper must support a clearly stated thesis derived from a synthesis of the literature reviewed. Students are encouraged to consult the members of their thesis committee as they work on their thesis.
Students who successfully complete the written thesis and an oral defense of their work will graduate with Departmental Honors or High Honors. Students are also encouraged to present their honors thesis projects at the HCLAS spring student research symposium and other local student conferences. (A list of local student conferences is available on the Psychology Club website.)
An electronic archive of completed honors theses is maintained on the psychology department webpage.
Timeline for Psychology Honors Theses
Students are strongly encouraged to begin their thesis project by the fall semester of their senior year. Honors theses typically take two semesters to complete.
The completed thesis must be submitted to the committee no later than one week prior to the defense.
The thesis must be defended no later than the last day of classes. Students are encouraged to defend earlier in order to leave plenty of time for revisions. Revisions of the written thesis are expected after the defense. The deadline for submitting the final draft is the last day of final exams.
The undergraduate Psychology Club is an organization for students run by students. Although the Psychology Club is geared towards the needs and interests of students majoring in psychology, club meetings may be attended by all Hofstra students with an interest in psychology and related fields. The club meets Wednesdays during common hour (11:30-12:30) and sponsors speakers who provide information on the numerous possible careers in psychology, how to get the necessary training for a career in psychology, and how to prepare for and apply to graduate programs in psychology. Attending Psychology Club meetings is also a great way for psychology majors to get to know each other outside of the classroom setting. The club's annual Mental Health Awareness Day brings representative from local mental health agencies to campus to provide information about the psychological services and jobs and internships available to undergraduates on Long Island.
In recent years, the club has invited speakers on volunteer opportunities for students, suicide prevention, AIDS and drug counseling, anger management, rational emotive behavior therapy, psychoanalysis, social work, industrial/organizational psychology, school psychology, and forensic psychology. Don't forget our acclaimed annual Graduate School: How Do I Get in and What Do I Do when I Get There? meeting.
Call or email one of the club's faculty advisors, Dr. Amy Masnick (463-5757 | E-mail), or Dr. Brianna Eiter (463-4685 | E-mail) for more information. Have your name placed on the club's e-mail list to receive announcements of club meetings and information about jobs and internships as they become available.
The Psychology Club also has a website listing information about job and internship opportunities, graduate schools in clinical, counseling, and school psychology, local psychology meetings and seminars, and more http://people.hofstra.edu/faculty/Brianna_M_Eiter/PsychClub/
Undergraduate and graduate students who meet certain academic requirements may apply for membership in Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology.
The Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology was founded in 1929 and the Hofstra University Psi Chi Chapter was created in 1950. New members are inducted at a banquet held each spring semester.
Membership is for a lifetime, and members receive Eye on Psi Chi, the society's magazine, and a membership certificate upon induction. A list of the benefits of Psi Chi membership is available on the Psi Chi website.
Psi Chi meets jointly with the Psychology Club. If you are not yet eligible for Psi Chi membership you simply sign up to be a member of the Psychology Club at the meetings and come to hear our interesting speakers, and participate fully in the business of the club, anytime you want!
Click here to see the current requirements for becoming a member of the Hofstra chapter of Psi Chi.
Psychology graduate programs will select students with clear intellectual motivation for pursuing a career in a selected field, and they will avoid students who merely "are confused and suffering persons, who want to help confused and suffering persons." Perhaps you are interested in learning more about ADHD (i.e., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which you began to study in your research seminar, and which you researched for your final project. The programs to which you apply will want to know that you already have a clear idea of what you are getting into - that is, you understand something about the deep intellectual issues behind particular psychological research domains, and you have some hands-on experience in the practice of research.
It is a good idea to get some clinical and research experience if you wish to apply to a clinical, counseling or school psychology program. Similarly, it is a good idea to have experience working with children, as well as doing developmental research, if you wish to study development at the graduate level. The Psi/Chi web site lists some resources to help you get started. Most full-time faculty members have active research programs in which students may be able to participate. Faculty members are most likely to be receptive to such an arrangement if you have a demonstrated interest in the research topic and can make a serious time commitment.
Yes, standardized tests are alive and well, and used by every graduate program in North America as part of the basis for admissions. Even with their limitations, they provide one standardized way to help select individuals who have the necessary quantitative skills, reading skills, writing skills, and specific knowledge of psychology necessary to begin classes and research at an advanced level.
The book published by the American Psychological Association, Graduate Study in Psychology and Related Fields, has a complete list of programs in North America and their admissions requirements. It is available for review in the main office of the Psychology Department. If you are planning to take the Graduate Record Exams, contact the Educational Testing Service directly for test dates and locations by the start of your senior year (see their web site http://www.gre.org or phone them at 1-866-473-4373).
Usually, you will need three letters of recommendation from your current or past instructors or supervisors. Your advisor -if you visit him/ her often - can also write a recommendation for you!
The "Personal Statement"- the letter you write about your interest as part of the application - is an important part of your application package. Always get another person to look it over and serve as your "Editor." A fellow student with good skill in written expression, your advisor, or a faculty member can provide comments and suggestions which will improve your personal statement. Also, always type and proofread your materials!
Approximately 30 full-time psychologists are available in the department to provide guidance about specific areas in psychology. Feel free to consult with us.
Animal Behavior: Dr. Chaiken, Dr. Pineno
Behavior Analysis: Dr. O'Brien
Biopsychology/Neuroscience: Drs. Chaiken, Levinthal, Shafritz
Clinical Neuropsychology: Levinthal, Serper, Shafritz
Clinical Psychology (Adult): Drs. Guarnaccia, Kassinove, Motta, O'Brien, Sanderson, Schare, Serper
Clinical Psychology (Child): Drs. Barnes, Flaton, Gilbert, Kassinove, Ohr, Scardapane
Community Psychology: Drs. Meller, Motta, Tsytsarev
Cognitive Psychology: Drs. Brown, Eiter, Cox, Levinthal, Masnick, Valenti, Weingartner
Cross-Cultural / Ethnic Psychology: Drs. Barnes, Kassinove, McDonaugh, Shin, Tsytsarev
Developmental Psychology: Drs. Cox, Flaton, Gilbert, Masnick, Meller, Ohr, Shin, Valenti.
Ecological Psychology: Dr. Valenti
Educational Psychology: Drs. Cox, Levinthal, Masnick
Experimental Psychology: Drs. Barnes, Brown, Chaiken, Cox, Dill, Eiter, Johnson, Masnick, Novak, Pineno, Shafritz, Valenti, Weingartner
Experimental Psychopathology: Drs. Kassinove, Salzinger , Serper
Forensic Psychology: Drs. Cox, Flaton, Tsytsarev
Health Psychology: Drs. Novack, Shin
Industrial/Organizational: Drs. Carroll, Fan, Kaplan, Liu, Metlay, Shahani-Denning, Shapiro
Language and Reading: Drs. Eiter, Weingartner
Learning: Drs. O'Brien, Pineno
Perception and Attention: Drs. Brown, Eiter, Levinthal, Shafrtiz
Positive Psychology: Dr. Froh
Psychometrics/Quantitative Psychology: Drs. Barnes, Carroll, Dill, Fan, Schmelkin
Psychopathology: Dr. Serper
School Psychology: Drs. Guarnaccia, Froh, Kassinove, Meller, Motta, Ohr, Scardapane
Social Psychology: Drs. Johnson, McDonaugh, Novak, Valenti
Sports Psychology: Dr. O'Brien
Woods, P. J., and Wilkinson, C.S. (1987). Is Psychology the major for you? Planning for your undergraduate years. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.*
Sternberg, R.J. (1997). Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.*
American Psychological Association (1993) . Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology. Washington , DC : American Psychological Association.*
Keith-Spiegel, P. (1991). The complete guide to graduate school admission: Psychology and related fields. Hillsdale , NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
American Psychological Association (2004). Graduate study in psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.*
*Note: All of the publications of the American Psychological Association (APA) are available by writing to: Order Department, APA, P.O. Box 2710, Hyattsville, MD 20784. These publications and much more are also available through their web site http://www.apa.org/students.