Undergraduate Students

Classes and Advising

  • Information about the Psychology Minor *

    Information about the Psychology Minor

    Minor in Psychology: (18 semester hours)

    The minor in psychology is designed for students of any major and is tailored to the specific educational goals for each student. After taking PSY100, the student will choose 15 additional hours of PSY courses in consultation with the Department of Psychology's minor advisor. *NOTE: At least 50% of psychology minor courses must be completed at WCU.

    Psychology Minor Advising Sheet (Prior to Fall 2022)

    Psychology Minor Advising Sheet (Fall 2022 or Later)

  • Psychology Senior Seminar (PSY400) - Class Descriptions

    Hill, Erin:  Digital Minimalism, Health and Well-Being

    The Senior Seminar titled "Digital Minimalism, Health, and Well-being" will involve a critical analysis of how we use personal technology and its impact on our health and well-being.  Digital Minimalism is not necessarily about removing technology from one's life, but rather, it is about becoming intentional and conscious of the ways technology can support individual values and goals - rather than having our behaviors governed by technology. The topic for this senior seminar was developed based on the book "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World" written by author Cal Newport. In this senior seminar, we will read Newport's book alongside peer-reviewed articles focused on the role of technology use (e.g., social media, cell-phone use, or screen time in general) in our physical and mental well-being. The seminar is discussion-based and hybrid in format, and will involve in-class and online discussions based on the Newport chapter readings and the peer-reviewed articles. Students will engage in reflections on the application of the readings/discussions in their personal and professional lives. The course will also involve regular critical analysis of research in this area of psychology.  Students will also work over the course of the semester in putting together their own research proposal focused on an aspect of digital minimalism in health and well-being.

    Hyers, Lauri: Course Description Qualitative Inquiry

    This course serves as an introduction to the theory, politics, ethics, and practice of qualitative research in psychology and the social sciences. Qualitative styles of research are largely overshadowed in psychology by the field’s overwhelming preference for quantitative research design. Yet many academics embrace qualitative methods and have developed some useful systems of analysis that compliment more quantitative methodologies. As interest in qualitative research has slowly grown, psychologists have borrowed and adapted some of these qualitative techniques. We will begin by examining some of the philosophical and political issues surrounding qualitative methods. Next we will examine qualitative research design. We will explore several qualitative research techniques, with attention to both conceptual and practical considerations. Students will read qualitative research related to their interests.

    Hyers, Lauri: Course Description Climate Change

    This course covers the Social Psychology of the contemporary Climate Crisis. As an in-depth study of advanced topics in psychology, students will prepare and present written and oral presentations describing and analyzing current research on Climate Change in psychology.  Humans have made and continue to make their indelible mark on the planet: rapid exponential growth of the human population, environmental pollution, deforestation, natural wild habitat loss, mass extinctions of non-human animals, abuse of captive animals for food, fashion, and pets, destruction caused by human overconsumption, war, and depletion of natural resources. We will explore the psychological implications of these human actions and the application of psychology to sustainability and conservation.  

    McKibben, Jodi: Patterns and Course of Psychological Disorders

    "Protecting health, saving lives - millions at a time." This is the mission statement of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  It is also an apt description of our subject matter for this senior seminar - patterns and course of psychological disorders (also known as psychiatric epidemiology).  Specifically, we will examin the methodologies used to understand the causes, prevalence, course, and consequences of various mental disorders.  In so doing, we will consider the risk and protective factors at the individual, environmental, and global levels and over time.  This knowledge can then serve to develop effective intervention strategies including prevention programs.

    How do we distringuish between the ongoing rates of PTSD in Army soldiers versus the rate of the onset of new cases?  What is the typical course of schizophrenia amongst those with early onset?  Is diabetes risk factor for the development of major depressive disorder?  Can Prevention programs be designed and implemented that will reduce the current rates of suicide among adolescents with suicidal ideation?  These are the sorts of questions we will learn how to tackle as we explore the ever-changing landscape of psychiatric epidemiology.

    Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the examination of mental disorders from a more global perspective.  This understanding will be assessed through multiple assessment techniques including written and oral presentations.

    Mitchell, Karen: Fake News: Processes and Problems (Spring Only)

    Fake news, the term is used to refer to everything from satirical sources like the Onion to objectively factual news reports in legitimate sources that people don't care for and want to delegitimize. In this course we will discuss how individuals assess the legitimacy (validity) and veracity (truth or accuracy) of news reports, why they make mistakes, and what can be done to improve our ability to accurately assess the news. We will extend our consideration to other areas, such as "fake science." We will also consider the news media as an important institution for monitoring the activities of other institutions that act in the public interest, such as the government, the courts, and science, which in turn monitor the veracity of what is reported in the news and the appropriateness of how reporting gets done. We will discuss how such institutional monitoring provides checks and balances designed to maintain the integrity of, and public trust in, institutions, as well as examples of how these checks and balances break down. We will consider these topics primarily from a cognitive psychology viewpoint, especially the theoretical perspective of the Source Monitoring Framework, but we will consider other views (e.g., legal, ethical), as well.

    Consistent with the style of a seminar, the format primarily involves discussion of articles from scientific journals and other sources, though we will also watch videos and do exercises and demonstrations. Consistent with the requirements of all PSY400 seminars, students will prepare both written and oral presentations. Although this seminar focuses primarily on cognitive theories and methods, you should be able to do well in the course without having had PSY475 (Cognitive Psychology).

    Rundus, Aaron: Comparative Sensation & Perception

    Imagine what life would be like if you did not have the ability to see, smell, taste, touch, or hear. How would you survive without the ability to sense the world around you? It quickly becomes obvious that the processes of sensation and perception are vitally important with regard to our ability to function in the world around us. In this course we take an in-depth look at some of the sensory and perceptual processes found within the animal kingdom. This course will emphasize a comparative approach by highlighting, when possible, the similarities and differences in sensory and perceptual processes in humans and non-human animals. Furthermore, in this course we will focus on two major categories of empirical questions 1) ‘How’ questions dealing with the mechanisms through which organisms obtain and process information about the world around them and 2) ‘Why’ questions using an evolutionary approach to understand the function of these two processes in the behavior and survival of organisms. This course is organized in a seminar format, affording us the opportunity to survey current research in the field of sensation and perception through the discussion of peer-reviewed literature.

    Shivde, Geeta: Neuroscience of Cognition and Emotion (Fall)

    We will explore how various neuroimaging methods and the study of patients with brain injury have informed our understanding of psychology from consciousness and cognition to social and emotional behavior and clinical disorders. We will learn about these different methodologies and the kind of data they produce, as well as discussing the promise and limitations of interpreting this data. You will be reading and discussing primary literature in the field, and will develop your own ideas about how cognitive and affective neuroscience methods can be applied to your individual topic of interest. Understanding how to read and think about research using these neuroscience methods should give you the ability to continue to follow developments in this quickly moving field as they apply to your chosen career, your personal development, and public policy.

    Tahmaseb-McConatha, Jasmin: Culture and Psychology

    Who we are and how we understand the world is shaped by the culture in which we live. This senior seminar addresses the intersecting influences of culture, society, and community on well-being across adulthood. The seminar focuses on an exploration of contemporary and socio-historical factors that have influenced our understanding of ourselves, our relationships, our sources of meaning, and our health and happiness. We will explore theoretical developments and methodological strengths and limitations in the field of cultural psychology. We discuss fundamental similarities and differences in models of the self, the structure of relationships and support, sources of meaning, emotional management, and well-being. We examine a series of topics on how culture and psychology interrelate in our increasingly globalized world. By taking this course students will be able to: 1. Become more informed about current theories and methods in cultural psychology. 2. Able to critically assess psychological theories with respect to their appropriateness and relevance across particular cultural groupings. 3. Prepared for further advanced study in cultural psychology, adult developed, and/or social-personality psychology. 4. Increase their sense of cultural competence by understanding how cultural patterns influence their own daily lives in a globalizing world. 6. Gain experience preparing a written and oral presentation on a chosen topic relating to the goals of the class.

    Tahmaseb-McConatha, Jasmin: Adult Well-being

    We all strive for happiness and well-being. As psychologists, the study of well-being and happiness in an important area of research. This course will address personal, social, and cultural factors influencing well-being during adulthood, from transitional adulthood to young and middle adulthood, to later adulthood. Well-being will be considered broadly and include happiness, satisfaction with life, subjective and objective physical health, emotional balance, engagement with life, satisfying relationships, meaning and purpose in life, and feelings of self-acceptance. We will explore culturally specific as well as universal factors influencing well-being. Gender, ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, social class, religion, and nationality intersect to shape the course of people’s lives and therefore their well-being. This seminar focuses on an exploration of research and theory addressing the intersecting influences of these important factors in adult developmental. Students will conduct research, interview volunteers, develop health promotion programs, read research, and write a critical review of research paper on topics relating to the human condition. By the end of the semester students should understand the ways that global demographic changes (i.e. pandemic reality, fear, and anxiety, increased life expectancy, widespread obesity and chronic illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, technology, climate change, social inequality …) influence well-being.

Field Experience Information

Getting Involved

  • Peer Mentoring Program

    Faculty Advisor: Dr. Lia O'Brien

    The Psychology Peer Mentoring Program pairs incoming first-year Psychology majors with Jr/Sr Psychology majors. The program was developed to help incoming students cope with the transition to college by providing support and guidance from current Psychology majors. New students and mentors will engage in a variety of department sponsored activities throughout the upcoming year to enrich the college experience. Look for opportunities to sign up at the beginning of each Fall semester.

  • Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society)

    Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society)

    Faculty Advisors: Dr. Deanne Zotter and Dr. Karen Mitchell

    The Department of Psychology sponsors a chapter of this international honor society. Membership is by invitation, with scholarship as the major criterion. Psi Chi, an affiliate of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science endeavors to advance the science of psychology and encourages superior scholarship in all academic fields, particularly in psychology.

    Requirements for Psi Chi Membership

  • Psychology Club

    Psychology Club

    Faculty Advisor: Dr.Ellie Brown

    The purpose of this club is to provide experiences for students that enhance classroom instruction. Programs include presentation of current research by the Department of Psychology's faculty and students as well as guest speakers. Other programs provide information on graduate education and career opportunities in psychology and related fields. Members are also provided with opportunities for informal interchange with faculty, invited scholars, and others. Interested students may join by contacting club officers or the faculty adviser.

  • Student Life Committee

    Student Life Committee

    Faculty Advisors: Dr. Rebecca Chancellor, Dr. Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha

    This committee gives students opportunities to interact with faculty for socializing with other students and faculty, organizing psychology-related informational sessions, and giving input on departmental matters such as hiring. The Committee also sponsors the annual Psychology Awards Ceremony each Spring.

    SLC Nomination Form

  • Student Research Day

    Sponsored by the Psi Chi

    Each Spring, undergraduate and graduate psychology students have an opportunity to talk about their research activities with other students and members of the University, display posters in the Psychology Department, and give selected demonstrations of laboratory activities.

  • Winter Break Student Volunteer Opportunities

    Winter Break Student Volunteer Opportunities

    The holiday season is just around the corner. Get out of the cold and spend your winter break doing good on a volunteer adventure that makes a difference. Experience the true meaning of "it is better to give then receive" by joining one of GoEco's volunteer projects. We have selected some great projects that will take your winter break from ho-hum to life-changing!

Internships and Scholarships

Your Future

  • How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process

    How to Avoid the Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process

    Personal statements

    • Avoid references to your mental health. Such statements could create the impression you may be unable to function as a successful graduate student.
    • Avoid making excessively altruistic statements. Graduate faculty could interpret these statements to mean you believe a strong need to help others is more important to your success in graduate school than a desire to perform research and engage in other academic and professional activities.
    • Avoid providing excessively self-revealing information. Faculty may interpret such information as a sign you are unaware of the value of interpersonal or professional boundaries in sensitive areas.
    • Avoid inappropriate humor, attempts to appear cute or clever, and references to God or religious issues when these issues are unrelated to the program to which you are applying. Admissions committee members may interpret this type of information to mean you lack awareness of the formal nature of the application process or the culture of graduate school.

    Letters of recommendation

    • Avoid letters of recommendation from people who do not know you well, whose portrayals of your characteristics may not objective (e.g., a relative), or who are unable to base their descriptions in an academic context (e.g., your minister). Letters from these authors can give the impression you are unable or unwilling to solicit letters from individuals whose depictions are accurate, objective, or professionally relevant.
    • Avoid letter of recommendation authors who will provide unflattering descriptions of your personal or academic characteristics. These descriptions provide a clear warning that you are not suited for graduate study. Choose your letter of recommendation authors carefully. Do not simply ask potential authors if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation; ask them if they are able to write you a strong letter of recommendation. This question will allow them to decline your request diplomatically if they believe their letter may be more harmful than helpful.

    Lack of information about the program

    • Avoid statements that reflect a generic approach to the application process or an unfamiliarity with the program to which you are applying. These statements signal you have not made an honest effort to learn about the program from which you are saying you want to earn your graduate degree.
    • Avoid statements that indicate you and the target program are a perfect fit if these statements are not corroborated with specific evidence that supports your assertion (e.g., your research interests are similar to those of the program’s faculty). Graduate faculty can interpret a lack of this evidence as a sign that you and the program to which you are applying are not a good match.

    Poor writing skills

    • Avoid any type of spelling or grammatical errors in your application. These errors are an unmistakable warning of substandard writing skills, a refusal to proofread your work, or willingness to submit careless written work.
    • Avoid writing in an unclear, disorganized, or unconvincing manner that does not provide your readers with a coherent picture of your research, educational, and professional goals. A crucial part of your graduate training will be writing; do not communicate your inability to write to those you hope will be evaluating your writing in the future.

    Misfired attempts to impress

    • Avoid attempts to impress the members of a graduate admissions committee with information they may interpret as insincere flattery (e.g., referring to the target program in an excessively complimentary manner) or inappropriate (e.g., name dropping or blaming others for poor academic performance). Graduate admissions committees are composed of intelligent people; do not use your application as an opportunity to insult their intelligence.

    Taken from Table 1 of:
    Appleby, D. C., & Appleby, K. M. (2006). Kisses of death in the graduate school application process. Teaching of Psychology, 33(6), 19-24.

    Appleby Graduate School Application Kisses of Death (2006)

More Info Coming Soon!! (e.g., Information on getting into graduate school and careers in Psychology)


Back to top of page.