Psychology is the scientific study of thought, behavior, and experience. Many people associate psychology with psychological therapy and the practice of clinical psychology. There are also many other important areas of scientific psychology, such as cognitive, developmental, industrial/organizational, and social psychology. What these subfields of psychology have in common is the use of the scientific method to understand human behavior and apply that understanding to the development of theory and practice.
Psychologists are increasingly making use of neuroscience methods and theories to understand psychological phenomena. As a profession, psychology is related to fields such as health, education, marketing, human resources, social work, and more. The principles of psychology are relevant to almost all areas of human endeavor, and the career paths of psychology students reflect this wealth of possibilities.
Students will also develop information and computer competence, communication skills, and develop realistic ideas about how to implement their psychology education in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings. The major may lead to either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. The B.A. degree incorporates a broad exposure to the many facets of the field of psychology, in addition to a strong Liberal Arts foundation. The B.S. degree provides the same exposure to the field of psychology and adds options in Science and Business to prepare students for more specific career directions. Students in both degree programs may also prepare for graduate school; research experience with faculty members is encouraged for such students.
Skills for the Real World
The field of psychology is dedicated to understanding and explaining human behavior, why we think, feel, and act the way we do, and how life circumstances affect people. Learning about human motivations and intentions helps psychology majors develop strategies for personal growth and success in real life.
Psychology students have the opportunity to translate information they learn in class to personal growth and development in real life. Psychology majors are taught to become more aware of their own thoughts and beliefs, how they see themselves, and how their cognitions influence their day-to-day experiences. As a result, graduates from the psychology program are better equipped to with strategies and habits that lead them towards greater life success.
Studying psychology also provides students with an understanding of interpersonal relationships they can translate into their real -world interactions with friends, family, co-workers, employers, and even romantic relationships. Through classes on cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and other topics students learn about empirically tested strategies that help to achieve harmony and mutual satisfaction in interpersonal relationships.
Psychology students gain experience in conducting research working in teams and, through these, learn how to balance between independence and cooperation. This experience reflects real-world workplace environments, where teamwork is the norm and success depends on the ability to collaborate successfully with others.
A psychology degree also helps to strengthen student’s’ analytical and reasoning skills. Being exposed to scientific principles in psychology classes helps students to think, question, and reason like a scientist. They learn how to make observations of human behavior and apply what they have learned in their interactions with others. Students are able to translate the psychological theories about human behavior they learn about in class to real-world scenarios.
Across the psychology curriculum, students engage with writing and oral presentation skills-building activities. In addition, the insights gained from the field of psychology support the development of effective communication skills that students can apply in many situations. Graduates from the psychology program also receive education that gives them an improved sense of how to write a persuasive job application, handle a job interview smoothly, and effectively introduce themselves to a new group of people.
Concentrations or Academic Tracks
The Psychology program at Penn State Berks offers two opportunities for students to study psychology. The Psychology B.A. degree incorporates a broad exposure to the many facets of the field of psychology, in addition to the B.A. requirements focusing on language, communication, and writing. The Psychology B.S. degree provides the same exposure to the field of psychology and adds options in Science and Business to prepare students for more specific career directions.
The Psychology BA/BS degree programs require students to complete at least one semester of research, community-based internship, or capstone experience during their senior year. Students choose to complete one or more community-based internships can complete this experience in a variety of settings depending on their specific career goals.
Graduates from this degree program have completed internships at:
- Berks Talkline
- Safe Berks
- Children’s Home of Reading
- Hispanic Center
- Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Service
Because psychology is as much about the advancement of knowledge as it is about its application, our program promotes the development of research skills through varied research opportunities in required courses, student working with faculty on research projects, and in student-lead independent research. All psychology courses involve elements of research methods, and the research methods coursework provides more in-depth research expectations and production.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Greenauer have conducted research focused on the study of the organization and structure of long-term spatial memory, the development of spatial category formation, the embodied basis of spatial knowledge, and the integration of spatial knowledge across experiences.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Hillman have conducted research focused on sexuality and aging, LGBT issues in aging, intimate partner violence and aging, problem behavior in long-term care, and grandparents of children with autism spectrum disorder.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Lindsey have conducted research focused on examining connections between parent-child relationship quality and children’s socioemotional functioning, children’s peer relationships, and cultural differences in childrearing practices.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Mello have conducted research on the development and evaluation of assessment tools and intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, and on the experiences of families of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Russell have conducted research on how gender and sexual orientation play a role in evaluating defendants and victims in legal cases, such as self-defense in intimate partner violence, rape, sexual coercion, bullying, and sexual harassment.
- Graduates who have worked with Dr. Johnson have investigated the impact of anxiety on college-age students and self-care strategies for mental health professionals.
Psychology students who would like to pursue a double major are encouraged to explore their options as early in their academic career as possible. Students who are completing the Psychology BA degree can add a complementary double major from the other BA degree programs offered at Berks including:
Students who are completing the Psychology BS degree must choose the Science or Business option as part of the degree requirements. Depending upon the option chosen, double majoring in any of the Science or Business BS majors offered at Penn State Berks is possible.
Students can pair the following minors with this degree program:
- Communication Arts & Sciences
- Civic & Community Engagement
- Criminal Justice
- Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Global Studies
- Natural Science
- Political Science
- Special Education
- Women’s Studies
Students can obtain jobs in a variety of domains as the degree provides an excellent background for a wide variety of professions that involve working with others. This includes positions within (1) industrial/organizational psychology-related areas such as business, human resources, marketing, market analysts, and program evaluation or (2) mental health organizations as caseworkers, counselors, crisis counselors, supervisors, therapists, social work, psychiatric technicians, drug abuse, youth detention facilities, (3) research-related positions in university laboratories or within educational or social service-related organizations, (4) educational positions in community prevention, and child development, (5) community outreach as organizers, workers, relations, (6) forensic positions such as juvenile caseworker, detention worker, probation/parole officer, investigator, law enforcement professional, insurance investigator, (6) health and cognition related positions such as behavior analyst, neuropsychology assistant, medical assistant, child development specialist, geriatric populations, and dementia units, alcohol/substance abuse counselors, youth coordinators, camp staff directors.
Some of our recent graduates work for human resources, social services, family services, state organizations such as child/youth services, attending graduate school in psychology, social work, nursing, business, or law school, research laboratories, drug counseling, agency coordinators, advocates, marketing, child development worker, behavior analyst, case managers, juvenile prevention program coordinators, child/youth services, juvenile delinquency or mental health caseworker, admissions recruiter/representative, corrections, probation/parole, psychiatric technician, rape crisis counselor, residential services, research analyst, coordinators/research and development and at the International Association for Chiefs of Police, and much more.
While this degree program does not require additional schooling at the graduate level, many students choosing clinical, counseling, law school, school psychology, mental health, business psychology and other occupations such as medically related, or academic positions will elect to pursue graduate school. Students are encouraged to pursue this avenue and prepare for this process throughout the undergraduate studies.
Our students have gone on to earn graduate degrees in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Neuropsychology, and School Psychology, as well as Social Work, Nursing, Higher Education, Law, and Business, and subsequently qualified for licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors, Clinical Psychologists, and Licensed Professional Social Workers.
Our students have attended graduate programs located both near and far from our campus, including Immaculata University, Drexel University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple University, LaSalle University, Lehigh University, Indiana University of PA, Ball State University, St. Joseph's University, West Chester University, Kutztown University, Millersville University, New York University, and Weidner University, among others. Our students consistently receive feedback through their graduate school admissions that their extensive undergraduate internship and research experiences made them stand-out applicants.